For many native English speakers, Japanese is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. Nonetheless, this has not stopped people from trying. As a matter of fact, Japanese is among the most popular languages that everyone wants to learn, with hundreds and thousands of people looking to sign up for a Japanese class in Singapore.
The popularity of Japanese comes as no surprise since Japanese media – from music and films to video games and anime – is in high demand worldwide. If you are one of the numerous people who wish to learn this amazing language, this article might interest you! Let us share with you some of the most fascinating facts about the Japanese language that you probably do not know yet.
1. Japanese is not tonal unlike many Asian languages
A tonal language is basically one that makes use of unique words and less distinct syllables, choosing to use inflection instead to differentiate between words. A lot of East Asian languages, such as Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese, are tonal. This means that they all depend on tone to convey meaning. Japanese, on the other hand, is not.
Considering its geographical location, many people are surprised to find out that Japan did not adopt a language system similar to its East Asian neighbours. However, like all languages, Japanese still have a specific rhythm and cadence to its sentences and words. The most effective way to learn the distinct tone of the Japanese language is to listen to authentic speech.
2. Japanese has an alphabet system specifically for writing foreign words
Japanese is a pretty unique language. As proof of its uniqueness, the Japanese language has a specific alphabet system called “Katakana,” which is intended for writing foreign words. The need for Katakana arose due to the new information and languages that were being introduced to Japan through international exposure and trade.
Numerous words in Japanese are adopted into the language, so that it becomes easier for the Japanese people to say them. Likewise, a lot of English names and pronouns as well as other foreign languages were modified to be easier to say in Japanese. Today, the Katakana system is already composed of 48 unique syllables and is accepted as an official part of the language used by everyone.
3. There are no plurals and articles in Japanese
In Japanese, there is no distinction between saying “there is a bee” and “there are bees.” This is because there are really no plurals in the Japanese language. Hence, it can be hard to tell whether someone is saying there is a bee in your garden, or your backyard has been attacked by a swarm of bees.
Similarly, the Japanese language does not also use articles. It does not differentiate between “the,” “a,” and “an.” Although this does not cause a lot of issues, it is an aspect of the language that seems tricky and complicated for many speakers.
4. There are three varying levels of formality with corresponding grammar in Japanese
In Japanese, verbs are conjugated differently according to whether you are speaking in a formal, polite, or casual situation. Just like other Asian languages, such as Chinese and Korean, Japanese has varying levels of formality that come with corresponding grammar.
Formal Japanese, particularly, is even further divided between a language that elevates the listener and is intended for conversing with important people like superiors at work. It is also a language that humbles the speaker and is often used by customer service workers. Among the different levels of formality, formal Japanese is the most complicated that even native speakers still struggle to use it correctly.
Japanese is undoubtedly an interesting language not only because it has been popularised by J-pop and anime but also because it comes with many intricacies that make it more unique than the majority of other languages. By knowing the numerous fascinating facts about the Japanese language, you can understand its origin and distinctiveness better and will likely be more interested in mastering it!
If you are looking for the most effective and comprehensive Japanese course in Singapore to help you learn the language fast, Japanese Explorer is the language school you can count on! We offer an array of Japanese classes that will deliver you the right materials and resources you need to become an absolute pro at speaking Japanese. With our immersive and extensive lessons, you can surely develop your Japanese skills with relative ease!