Learning Japanese can certainly open you up to the exciting world of Japanese pop culture with movies, music, manga as well as giving you the chance to know more about the Japanese people with their amazing cuisine and unique customs. Not only that, Japan is the world’s third largest economy. With globalization, international markets are emerging and there is a need for more international understanding and language learning. Whether you are interested in the Japanese culture or in doing business with potential partners in Japan, learning Japanese clearly has many appealing benefits.
This article is a guide to interesting Japanese language facts to know before learning it.
Japanese is the 3rd Most Commonly Spoken Language Online
English and Spanish are the 1st and 2nd most-spoken language on the Internet worldwide. However, Japanese is the third common language despite the fact that Japanese speakers account for less than 2% of the world total population. This is because 80% of the Japanese population uses the internet and Japan also ranks 4th among countries with the most internet users.
With technological advances, online language learning is increasing in popularity and these top programs can get you started on your language journey. With programs like these, learning foreign languages has become easier and more accessible for everyone. There are many language courses online that you can enroll in and become bilingual or even multilingual.
The Japanese Speak Really Fast
Of course, measuring how fast a language is spoken is difficult and the results are relative because each language has different dialects, personalities and accents. However, a recent study conducted by French linguists shows that Japanese speakers have a faster pace than Spanish, Italian and French speakers. More specifically, Japanese speakers have a spoken rate of approximately 7.84 syllables per second while English speakers have only 6.19 syllables per second, Spanish speakers have 7.82 syllables per second and French speakers have 7.18.
Japanese is the 9th Most Commonly Spoken Language Worldwide
Of course, Japanese is the official language of Japan and it is also the only country where the language is made official nationwide. Approximately 130 million people speak Japanese and the majority of Japanese speakers live in Japan. However, there are nearly 2.5 million people of Japanese origin that speak Japanese who live in the United States, the rest of the Americas or Brazil.
There are also a few immigrant communities that speak Japanese around the world in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Peru, China, Australia, Canada and Argentina. Interestingly, Japanese is recognized in the Republic of Palau as a minority language as the island state of Angaur has many people who use Japanese primarily. As of 2010, studies showed that roughly 15% of Hawaiians and 1% of Californians speak Japanese.
Nowadays, these statistics are only increasing as more and more people outside of Japan are interested in learning Japanese.
Many Japanese Words Have Made Their Way into Everyday English
Japanese culture has certainly made its mark on a global scale as you probably know about Anime and Manga or regularly eat Sushi and Ramen. Thanks to the love of people for the Japanese culture and the influence of Japan in Western countries, many Japanese concepts and words such as karaoke, origami, tycoon, tsunami and bonsai are incorporated into everyday English.
Japanese can be Written in Two Ways
In contrast to many countries that only write horizontally and read from left to right, the Japanese language can be written in two ways. The first way is the traditional Japanese way, in which words are written in a vertical order and can be read from top to bottom. The second way is more common to non-Japanese speakers, in which words are written horizontally and read in order from left to right. These two methods are currently used at the same time by many newspapers to maximize space in the newspaper.
In Spoken Japanese, there are Different Formality Levels
So what are formality levels? Depending on different situations, Japanese speakers use different polite forms to show respect and stress formality. You might have heard stories about the Japanese and their politeness and with three primary formality levels, the Japanese language clearly shows how important respect and formality are. For instance, Japanese speakers can use “kudaketa” – the plain form in casual situations, “teinei” – the simple but polite form in more polite situations and “keigo” – the advanced polite form in highly formal situations.
For many language learners, Japanese is considered one of the most challenging languages in the world to learn. However, with the availability of online language courses, anyone can start learning the language and dive into the exciting world of Japanese culture with video games, films and anime or explore the promising opportunities that Japan can offer. Learning the language is an essential step in getting to know any country. Hopefully, these interesting facts will motivate you to continue on your language journey.