Japanese Language Facts

Interesting Japanese Language Facts

If you’re thinking about learning Japanese it’s always good to know a little about the origins and history of the language you are learning. Here, Cactus Language offers up our most interesting Japanese language facts:

1. Japanese has mysterious origins and there are numerous theories on how it emerged

The oldest known from of Japanese is Old Japanese, which was recorded when Chinese writing was first introduced in Japan. Chinese substantially influenced Japanese until the 12th century. Later, European traders and explorers introduced European words which were incorporated into Japanese.

2. Japanese is the ninth most spoken language in the world

Japanese is spoken by 125 million people, mainly in Japan, and nearly 4 million people are studying Japanese as a foreign language worldwide.

3. The world’s first novel is still a landmark of Japanese literature

The world’s first novel is sometimes considered to be The Tale of Genji (源氏物語), written in the 11th century by Murasaki Shikibu, a noblewoman. Today, it has influenced modern authors such as the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.

4. A number of Japanese words have been incorporated into everyday English

This is thanks to the popularity of Japanese culture in Western countries, including in the UK and the US. Examples include anime, bonsai, karaoke, origami, sudoku, tofu, tsunami and tycoon.

5. Japanese is also one of the world’s fastest spoken languages

Not only is Japan home to one of the most famous bullet trains, the Shinkansen (新幹線), but Japanese is also one of the world’s fastest spoken languages. Japanese has an average rate of 7.84 syllables per second, compared to 6.19 syllables per second for English and 5.18 syllables per second for Mandarin, according to a study performed by the Université de Lyon in France.


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