Japan and the Richness of its Language
Japan is an island nation situated in the Pacific Ocean,
and lies east of the Sea of Japan, North Korea, South Korea, The People's
Republic of China and Russia. The country stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk
in the north, to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The country is
referred to as "Nihon" or "Nippon" by locals, or officially as Nippon-koku
or Nihon-koku. The characters that represent the nation's name make up the
words "sun-origin country", which explains why this country is commonly
referred to as the "Land of the Rising Sun". The country's English name was
made known to the Western world from the early trade routes, and the word "Cipangu"
was first recorded by the famed Marco Polo. This term was derived from the
early Mandarin or possibly Wu Chinese words. Jepang was the ancient Malay
word for this nation; however it is now spelled as Jepun. This Malay term
was also taken from the Chinese language, and early Portuguese traders
encountered this word during their commercial excursions to the port of
Malacca. These European traders were also believed to bring the word to
Mainland Europe, and it was spelled as "Giapan" in English.
The country is famous for being a major global economic power and has the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP. It is also a proud member of the United Nations, G8, OECD and APEC. Japan is the planet's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer, and its living standards are considered as the 8th highest in the world. It is also seen as global leader in technology, robotics, machinery and automobile manufacturing. Its government is considered constitutional monarchy, and the authority of its Emperor is limited, if not only symbolic. The government is headed by the Prime Minister along with the elected representatives of the Diet, which is Japan's parliament.
Japanese or Nippongo is the main language spoken by an estimated 130 million citizens in this country. It is also spoken by Japanese emigrant communities in different parts of the world, and is also closely related to the language spoken by the residents of the Ryukyu Islands. According to linguistics experts, the sound inventory of Japanese is relatively small, with having a lexically distinct pitch-accent system. The Japanese language is written through combining three different types of scripts such as kanji which are modified Chinese characters, and two syllabic scripts composed of modified Chinese characters, hiragana and katakana. In modern times, the Latin alphabet, romaji is also often used, particularly in company logos and names, advertising, and especially when typing Japanese text on a PC.
The Japanese language also has its distinct levels of regional dialects. According to Nippongo experts, the main distinction in local accent is between the Tokyo-type or Tokyo-shiki, and the Kyoto-Osaka-type. The Kyushu-type dialects also compose a third smaller regional dialect group. There are also sub-groups of the Kyoto-Osaka-type dialect in the central region, within the Toyama, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Mie prefectures. The Shikoku dialects are also as same as the Kyoto-Osaka type. The dialects that originated or derived from the Eastern dialect of Old Japanese round out the final category of dialects, and these are usually spoken in the Hachijo-jima Island as well as in a few islands.
There are dozens of dialects spoken in this vibrant East Asian country and the large number is due to a lot of factors, which include the length of time that the island archipelago had been inhabited, its long history of both external and internal isolation, as well as the archipelago's mountainous terrain. The nation's dialects generally differ in relation to inflection, pitch accent, particle usage and vocabulary. Some regional dialects also differ in vowel and consonant inventories, although these cases are quite uncommon.
About the Author
Jo is a writer for 'Transglobal Languages & Cultures' (http://www.transgloballanguages.co.uk), a UK company devoted in helping businesses and individuals to converse more efficiently in the worldwide market. If you or your firm requires japanese language training or if you're working in a new state and like to defeat language barriers then check out Transglobal Languages & Cultures
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