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Japanese All Around Us

Japanese is is a languaage that is becoming more and more popular in this country. Large corporations in central Alabama are working closely in Japan. These corporations, like Daikin America, are bringing Japanese families to the U.S. Teachers today are encountering Japenese more often. The following photos are examples of Japanese in our community.

The Language Links sections provides links to wonderful resources that will help teachers hear and learn the basics of Japanese.

Advertisment in magazine

This is an example of environmental print

Japanese greeting card

This is an example of social interaction reading

Japanese greeting card

This is an example of social interaction reading

Language Links: Japanese

The following websites are wonderful links to audio and videos that will assist teachers in learning basic Japanese language skills and survival terminology. The greatest thing is they are all free.


Overview of the Japanese Language

Around 125 million people in Japan speak Japanese, which makes it the ninth most widely spoken language in the world. There are another 5 million people who speak Japanese with some degree of proficiency outside of Japan-- predominantly Japanese descendants in Hawaii and Brazil.

Japanese is not known to be directly related to any other language or family of languages. Although some resemblances to Japanese and the Altaic languages (such as Mongolian) have been noted, a clear relationship has yet to be demonstrated.

The Japanese language has a number of dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible. Thanks to the development of mass communications and the government’s directive to establish a common language, however, most people now speak a common tongue.

Japanese Vocabulary

The Japanese language has absorbed a large number of foreign words from various other languages: Chinese (along with kanji) in the 6th to 9th centuries, Portuguese in the 16th century, and English after World War II. Today, 80 percent of loanwords are English and written in katakana. Examples include: maikaa (my car), taimingu (timing), konpyuutaa (computer), supiido (speed), and rasshu awaa (rush hour). English words that come from Japanese vocabulary include: tsunami, futon, sushi, judo, karate, karaoke, and honcho.

As you learn Japanese, you will come across some basic Japanese vocabulary words that sound like words in English. Hai is one example. It does not mean "hi!" In fact, it means "yes", and it is equivalent to an American saying "hmm" or "I see" in a conversational setting-- a verbal cue to let the speaker know that the listener is following along. (It is important to understand that hai does not necessarily mean that the listener agrees with the speaker!) Another example of a false friend is Ohayoo, the Japanese word for "Good morning," which sounds like the name of the state, Ohio.


To learn more about Japanese Culture and Language, Click here.