Japanese Language History

The fastest spoken language (most syllables per second)

The Japanese language is the eighth most spoken language in the world, according to the world’s league table of languages. There are 130 million Japanese language native speakers in Japan, and another 5 million native speakers around the world. These 5 million people are primarily Japanese emigrants. Taking into account the large Japanese economy, it is no wonder why Japanese translation services are in high demand.

The popularity of the Japanese language continues to grow as native Japanese travel internationally and move abroad. Most notable is the fact that they speak Japanese in both Hawaii and Brazil. In Australia, the United States, and Canada, the Japanese language is also present.

Having gained independence a little over 70 years ago, the success and power of Japan speak for themselves. Japan is one of the most powerful and important countries across the globe. Therefore, Japanese translation services are more in demand and more popular than ever before.

Origins & Roots of the Japanese Language

Linguists dispute extensively over the origins of the Japanese language. The roots of the Japanese language go back to the Ural-Altaic family of languages. This family of languages also includes Korean, Mongolian, and Turkish.

There are plenty of similarities between language in Japan and the language in Korea. For example, the general grammatical structure is identical: subject, object, and verb. The degrees of politeness used in dialogue are also similar.


The Difference Between Japanese and Korean

Several language families use Honorifics which are present as words, sentences, and grammar adaptations. The main difference between Japanese and Korean is the pronunciation. In addition, the pronunciation of both languages differs greatly from one to another.

Formality and politeness are key in the Japanese culture, and this is prominent in the language of Japan. There are broadly three levels of formality in the Japanese language. These three levels are the advanced polite form, the simple, polite form, and the plain form.

Strangers speak to each other politely. Children start out using the familiar plain form, which is usually used in the household. Formal schooling and more public interactions give children natural opportunities to adapt to more formal ways of speaking.

You can see the influences of the Japanese language and traditions everywhere. For example, ‘sushi’ is widely available in nearly every country in the world. Another example is the fact that Japanese ‘anime’ is gaining popularity around the world. These are only a couple of examples, but there are plenty more that show that people are inspired by the Japanese culture and the language in Japan.

Japanese Writing System

Here is some more history about Japanese translations. Before the 4th century AD, the Japanese had no writing system of their own. During the 4th century, the Japanese began importing certain aspects of the Chinese culture. These aspects included the Chinese script. Over time, a writing system emerged, where Chinese characters make up for words borrowed from Chinese. The system also enabled them to write Japanese words with the same or similar meanings.

Thousands of characters are part of the writing system of the Japanese language. The Japanese Ministry of Education expects students to be familiar with around 2,000 characters before high school graduation. This is usually an adequate number for common printed material. Highly educated Japanese speakers may know up to 8,000 characters.

You can write Japanese with a combination of three scripts. One of the scripts has Chinese characters called ‘kanji.” The other two scripts are two syllabic scripts made up of modified Chinese characters: ‘hiragana’ and ‘katakana’. Kanji typically represents complete words. Hiragana is a sound-based script for parts of words.

Katakana is a sound-based script for parts of foreign or borrowed words. An example would be writing brand names like “McDonalds”. There are also several common words written in katakana, such as ‘hoteru,’ which means “hotel.” The Japanese language has also adopted a lot of words from different languages, including English and Portuguese.


Japanese Translation Services

Interested in Japanese translations for your international company? Are you a Nihongo (日本語)-speaking organisation that would like to appeal to a more diverse global audience by translating your materials to Japanese?

At Renaissance Translations, we have a large network of Japanese language experts who can provide professional Japanese translations. Whether you have a video, a technical document, a website or a passport copy to translate to Japanese, our skilled experts can help you today. Feel free to contact us to discuss your specific project needs.