Save Japanese! Part 1: Position of Japanese in the world and its loan words

The number of Japanese speakers placed Japanese at number 10 in a recent poll of languages spoken in the entire world. The survey revealed that there are nearly 3 Million Japanese learners outside of Japan: Korea has about 910000 (30%), China has 680000(23%) and Australia 370000 (12, 3%). The number of people learning Japanese in these countries together accounts for more than 60% of those learning Japanese outside of Japan. Furthermore, the number of the Japanese-learners is growing steadily each year.

A native speaker of a language is a ‘culture bearer’ for their country, especially if they have emigrated. Every language has its own value and mentality which produces cultural diversity. The question is if English is able to reflect such diversity of the cultures of every language as it is the world language. The answer is no, because English is the language for global business, but not the culture bearer of all countries in the world.

Happily, the Japanese language is continually developing, but, on the other side of the coin, it has become marked that Japanese has so many ‘Katakana,’ these loan words from languages such as English. The growing quantity of loan words in Japanese has been acknowledged as a problem.

Before I state its problem in detail, I will explain simply about Japanese to help you understand the problem better. So, Japanese has two sets of phonetic characters, hiragana and katakana, which were created by simplifying kanji in the 9th century to lessen the inconvenience of using it. As you perhaps already know, Japanese uses four types of writing: kanji characters, hiragana and katakana phonetic scripts, and the Roman alphabet. Of the two kana systems, hiragana has by far the wider usage in modern times. Katakana characters are used mostly for the spelling of loan words brought into Japanese from other languages. Japanese has borrowed a large number of words from other languages, though it is not alone in doing so; it happens to all other languages as well. Katakana characters have three following groups. The first group is for the naming of the subjective which did not exist in Japanese before; an example of this is the word rajio (radio in English). The second group made for such words imported into Japanese as technical terms, for example ozon (ozon), inflation (inflâshon). The last group is used for words which already exist in Japanese but new images are created for the words by using Katakana characters.

[日本語]

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