Konichiwa! (Good day!) Japanese or nihongo is spoken by over 120 million people throughout Japan and immigrant communities across the world. Japanese is unique in that it is such a major language with no known linguistic relatives (although some claim that it belongs to a larger Altaic family). One of Japanese’s distinctive traits is its three scripts: it is written in pictographic Chinese characters called kanji as well as two syllabic scripts - hiragana and katakana, the first for Japanese words and the second for foreign ones.
Japanese Fun Facts
Impress your sushi chef and order in Japanese. Tuna is maguro, mackerel saba, squid ika, salmon sake, octopus tako, and sea urchin uni. After the end of the meal, express your pleasure by saying Gochiso sama deshita, or “Thank you for the feast!”
Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s acclaimed film The Seven Samurai (1954) tells the story of farmers who hire 7 samurai to stop bandits from stealing their crops. Hollywood made a Western remake in 1960, The Magnificent Seven, with 7 gunslingers hired by poor Mexican farmers.
The Japanese grammatical structure is very different than many of the Germanic and Romance languages. In Japanese, a sentence goes: subject object verb. The action word always comes at the end of the sentence, like “I television watch.”
Japanese and the Livemocha Community
- Half of all Japanese speakers on Livemocha live in Japan, and another 15% live in China.
- More Japanese learners on Livemocha live in China than in any other country.
- Over half of all Japanese Livemocha members are learning English. And almost 16% are learning Japanese.