Mystery of Japanese language!?

[日本語]


I heard people say that Japanese is such a beautiful unique language, but extremely difficult to learn due to the three writing systems. Don’t worry! Even Japanese have hard time to learn it. We cannot read newspapers until we graduate from high school because the Kanji (one of the writing systems) learning process usually takes a long time.

Japanese languages are also well known for having loan words. We call these words Gairaigo. We apply the word as it is, then pronounce it in a Japanese way. Many words have been borrowed from Portuguese, Dutch and German, especially in the fields of medicine. Some words came from French and Italian in the fields of music and food.

Following are some examples of Gairaigo:

German: Energisch, Arbeit, Ideologie, Neurose, Gips, Demagogie, Gelande

Portuguese: Pao, Tabaco, Charamela

Dutch: Orgel, Schop, Letter, Ransel

French: Fiancé, Fiancée, Enquete, Piment, Vacances, Concoures, Escargot, Pochette

Italian: Casino, Maestro

English has been the most of it, especially in the field of IT. As Japanese language is completely different from English counterpart, there are a lot of alphabets that do not exist in Japan. “L” and “R”, “B” and “W” are some of the typical examples that we cannot pronounce right. That is the reason why English speakers call it Engrish or Japangrish to make fun of it. Yeah, I know.

For more details, please have a look at the following video.

Since the words are heavily pronounced in Japanese way as you can see, that causes miscommunication or misunderstanding.

As Japanese are so creative (!?), some of the English words have been made up for Japanese use only. For example, we have a word called “salary man”. It means “business man” in English. That is not absolutely understandable if we say the word in English-speaking countries. We call these words Wasei words (English words made in Japan). Unfortunately Wasei words became one of the obstacles for Japanese to speak right English. Because there are many Wasei words, people cannot tell if the words are Wasei words or real English.

In recent years, the numbers of adapting loan languages are tremendously increased because of the influence of globalization. I hope that we do not lose our own beautiful languages!

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4 thoughts on “Mystery of Japanese language!?”

  1. To the question if you we will lose our unique languages and the example of the Japanese language:

    The biggest result of cross-cultural communication is merge. This counts for the DNA of the people, the arte
    , philosphie, technical knowledge, goods, ideas, politics, music and also the language – as you pointed out in the article. If you look to several parts of culture in the past, you find out the usually the most practical thing survived in the merge. German – my native – is a wonderful language with a lot of fines, but english is the much more handy, and more easy to learn. So I guess in the merge of Europe, English will clearly stand out as the European language of the future. According to the spread of the language, English has the best change to become the language of the world – if it not still is it.

    If you ask a linguist, he can tell you that there are each year, languages and cultures disappear from the face of the earth or get lost in the merge. Japan has a very closed culture, like the most that disappeared from the spoken languages of the earth. It’s also not spoken outside of the country – maybe from a small part of the migrants in Brazil and the USA. The number of Japanese people are decreasing. But it is in a lot of field very powerful: Economical and from the number of people. So it will remain a good while longer than the smaller languages that disappeared. But in the long run, there is not really a reason than a historical to keep up a inefficient language like this – even if it has a beautiful side, which is the reason to learn it for me.

    I talk of more than a hundred years, and just of the condition, that the Japan culture will do not much more progress to open up and therefore has a chance to have an influence to the merge while taking part in the progress of discuss the merge with a strong voice. Conservative habits within the Japanese cultures prevent that to purify the language and culture with the exact opposite output like described above.

    The key point in this happenings is, not to think of a merge as something bad or less than the old status. It is something new, that makes more people able to share ideas and therefore makes all stronger and able to do more faster. The rest has nothing to do with the sense of a language and can be missed. Change in general is part of every second of life on earth since it beginning. Therefore it is the most natural and good thing you could imagine. To keep up a status is just a way for a simple human mind to simplify a complex world in an unnatural way. The longer you keep this status of steadiness in anything, the more it differs to the real world and makes things on a specific point wired and mad and pervert. Therefore I hope the influence of globalization will change all our languages including the language that will become the world language some day.

  2. “Even Japanese have hard time to learn it. We cannot read newspapers until we graduate from high school because the Kanji (one of the writing systems) learning process usually takes a long time.”

    Then there is no excuse for sticking with kanji as a writing system, when the same information can be conveyed in hiragana, katakana, or even romaji. It is COMMON for young adults in the West to be able to read adult newspapers—-indeed I took several classes in junior and senior high where students were SUPPOSED to read from adult literature and even adult books. I read somewhere that some people in Japan are trying to change the Japanese braile system, which currently only uses the phonetic hiragana to NEEDLESSLY incorporate kanji. This. Is. Wrong.

    One last thing before I leave—my criticisms are also valid for the Chinese kanzi system, from which Japan borrowed characters for kanzi.

  3. @Cunningham, your comment is very ignorant, you don’t understand the culture value of kanji in the Japanese Language, it is a part of the art of its culture. Many Japanese people are proud of being able to read and write various kanji characters, and they even hold yearly competitions for kanji calligraph in various regions.
    and the Chinese writing system is not called “kanzi”, it is “hanzi”(汉字), please know what you are talking about before you transmit the message to other people. if Chinese abandon their characters and use “pingyin” only, then there will be a great deal of confusion out there, i hope you do know that there are four tones in Chinese, and it will not be enough to make the sentence clear if you simply put accent marks on each word. And again, hanzi is an IMPORTANT aspect of the Chinese language, without the characters, the culture itself will be lost.
    You are just too ignorant about the Latin Alphabet and you are not qualified to criticize the writing system of Japanese and Chinese unless you really understand their culture.

  4. Japanese is a beautiful language, but it is a provincial language, restricted therefore in its usefulness. There
    will always be some people who study it, as people go to museums or delve into 17th-century literature in Portugal. But as a means of of world-communication, it has little value and will unfortunately never be an important means of communication.

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