145,883 square miles (about 69% the size of France and about 10% larger than Germany in land area)
126 million people live in Japan making it the 10th most populated countries on Earth (circ 2013)
How many people speak Japanese? about - 130,000,000 (mostly in Japan and US)
5 Tips for Japanese beginners:
Japanese for beginners starts with Hiragana, Katakana and Romanji. I am still a beginner. Honestly, I have had many stops and starts. But I have noticed a few key points that have help me take steps in the right direction. Here are few tips that have helped:
Have Set Realistic "Japanese for Beginners" type Goals
Japanese for beginners should start with an objective, a goal of what you want to do. Is your goal to learn to write Japanese? Is your goal to speak fluently. The first step for a beginer in Japanese or ANY language, for that matter, is to figure out what your goal is.
Your goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time (S.M.A.R.T) limited. So its not enough to say, "my goal is the write in Japanese". You need the goal to be S.M.A.R.T. "I will learn to write Japanese by starting off with Hiragana, that I will practice daily for 4 weeks. On week 5, I should test myself and write all hiragana from memory."
Conquer the Japanese for Beginner Learning Curve with Motivation
You need a REASON to learn. Something that inspires you enough to do the hard work of memorization and interpretation. It can be talking to a penpal in Japanese, a vacation to Tokyo, meeting Japanese business partners, impressing a Japanese boyfriend, impressing a Japanese girlfriend. It needs to be something that will truly inspire you to do better.
Do some hiragana & katakana practice everyday. Staying consistent will help you to keep the information in your head. With consistency, the mind begins to lock into the necessary patterns that you need pick up language.
Go Hard or Go Home
No excuses. Work hard and don't do hiragana/katakan practice half way. You know what you need to do so push yourself if you really want to know the language then you have to put in the work.
Get the right tools for learning. Get the right tools for YOU. If you know you learn better by lectures then get the best audio lessons you can find. If you are a visual learner then focus on something like Rosetta Stone. But don't stick with only ONE tool. Use more than one. The difference in learning tools will help the information stick.
These are some of the things that I have done to learn languages.
I think Pimsleur is one of the best programs from learning and memorizing conversational Japanese, but there are lots and lots of online courses that offer conversational Japanese as well.
http://www.rocketlanguages.com & japanesepod101.com are a couple of good one.
List of starters for conversational japanese.
Thank you, very much.
What's your name?
How are you?
O-genki desu ka.
Thanks for your time. Sorry for disturbing you.
お いそがしい ところ、 しつれい しました
お 忙しい ところ、 失礼 しました。
O isogashī tokoro, shitsure shimashita
Nice To Meet you.
Even if your focus is mostly on conversational Japanese, its a good idea to know Romanji & kana because it helps you to pronounce the words correctly. for example, if you know how short of an "n" sound "ん" is you won't be tempted to pronouce it as "in" as native English speakers do. Hiragana and Katakana are pretty easy to learn and help you learn more words for your conversational Japanese.
A lot of the language of Japan is derived from Chinese! Particularly old Japanese is rooted in Chinese. Kanji is derived from Chinese.
So now, our question should be, "how many of these Japanese Kanji are from Chinese?"
Before world war II there was no standardised set of kanji characters in which Japanese was meant to be written. So basically Japanese was written in a random selection of the 6000+ chinese characters used at the time, and a lot of old variations and japanese creations thrown in aswell. This was a hinderance to creating dictionaries and to literacy. Come world war II, a list of standard kanji to be taught in primary school, a list of kanji to be taught by the end of highschool and a list of name kanji was created (this list has been altered quite a few times between then and now). The total number of kanji to be taught in school is 1,945 kanji (that is 1006 in primary school). The total number of kanji in names is about 300 (moji master added ref: Japanese script reform, Chizimi or Chidimi, Japanese Language Coucil).
Newspapers and books still use more than those 1,945 kanji. They commonly use about 2,500. And if you are reading complext texts like medical journals or laws, you would have to know about 3000-4000.
The good news is that in wide-spread publifications such as newspapers and books, if a kanji is not in the list of 1,945 it is common to have pronunciation guides above the kanji in question.
So knowing 1,945 kanji is all you really need to read almost anything in Japan.
There is a kanji proficiency test in Japan designed for natives. The medium levels test for about 2,500 kanji (which is how many kanji the average Japanese probably knows how to read). The highest level of the test tests for about 6000 kanji – this would only be for scholars etc.
(moji master added ref-Joyo Kanji, A Guide to Reading & Writing Japanese, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1961 Edition)
So the final answer to your question "How many KANJI are there?" kanji being Japanese-Chinese symbols. There are 1,945 officially endorsed kanji, 6,000 in the hardest level of the official kanji proficiency test, and 50,000+ in the history of everything. – From Yahoo Answers "Rick Byrne" Source: JLPT2
Japanese started to break away from Chinese about 7th century AD with a kana called "man'yōgana". This anchient kana mapped to phonetic sounds rather than logographs mapped to meaning. Hiragana and Katakana are derived from man'yōgana.
To write in japanese there are a few things you need to know before you get started:
- There are 2 japanese alphabets + 1 set of kanji
- There are about 2000 kanji
- There is an order to the strokes of each symbol
It gives you some idea of what kinds of work you will be expected to do.
2 Alphabets to learn to write in Japanese
They are called Katakana and Hiragana or Kana, together. Actually they are not an "alphabet" in the strict since of the word. They are known as a syllabary because unlike an alphabet, each symbol (known as a syllabogram) is its own syllable. Where as an alphabet such as English usually has a letter symbolizings sounds within a syllable. This is a simplified explaination and is best explained by a linguist. But essentially, each kana is a syllable.
Write in Japanese Kanji
Kanji is a not a syllabary, it is a set of logographs derived from Chinese about 2000 years ago. The Japanese Ministry of Education designates about 2000 characters as the most frequently used characters. And those are the ones taught in school and necessary to read items such as the Tokyo Times. But actually there are something like 50,000 kanji you could learn to write if you were insane.
Write Japanese with the Correct Strokes
The most essential thing to know about writing in Japanese is that you must do the correct strokes.
Is Japanese easy to learn? I would say that the difficulty of Japanese is relative. Easy compared to what?
If you are a native English speaker than compared to Spanish, Japanese is not easy to learn. But compared to Chinese it is super easy. What gives Japanese its learning curve is that there is more than one "alphabet" and there are lots of homonyms so that even if you do know how to speak it you quickly discover that a lot of words that sounds the same don't mean the same thing.
Japanese has three sets of "alphabets". Actually, two are syllabary which means symbols that make up syllables and one set of logograms. These two syllabary consist of about 50 symbles. They are called Katakana and Hiragana. They are fairly easy to memorize with a little work and repetition. The last set of symbols is called Kanji and it is "logographic" like Chinese. In fact, it was adopted from Chinese symbols. Logographics are images that mean concepts. Its not so easy to memorize.
If you want to be fluent in Japanese AND learn to read and write Japanese then it is hard for the average person because you will have to learn SOME Kanji. Logograms seem riduculously hard if you are not used to them. But even if you just want to learn a little conversational Japanese, one of the biggest challenges is that there are a lot of homonyms, or words that have the same sound with different meaning. So the only way to know the meaning is exact proper use in a certain context (or to have a kanji character that will distinguish your meaning).
So over all, from the perspective of a native English speaker, I would say compared to over languages it has a medium level of difficulty (where Spanish is easy and Chinese is difficult). I think if you know fluent Chinese its probably easy because Japanese kanji is already taken from Chinese, so it would be the equivalent of a native English speaker learning Latin or Spanish.
You will find plenty of great Japanese language programs. Learning systems such as Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone and others have mastered the art of teaching languages based on researching how people learn languages. But what about Japanese Language games? Not just a learning system but a real game. Something interactive thats addictive and maybe with some sort of score that track how you've done? Something where the game is just as important as the learning process. Where can you find them?
Japanese Language Games:
- Hiragana Pixel Party – from Springloaded Software, Hiragana Pixel Party is a popular Japanese language games using rythms and repetition to help memorize hiragana & katakana
- Mind Snacks Learn Japanese – Mind Snacks has a series of language learning games including Japanese. This app has 8 games with about 800 Japanese words.
- Koe（声） (JRPG) - A role playing game with Japanese at its core similar to Final Fantasy or Pokemon
- Moji Master – Fast pace Hiragana & Katakana practice game
Japanese language games do exist. They are more than helpful in learning Japanese, they are also fun and addictive. As more companies see how much of the new generation has adopted interactive gaming, they will definitely releash more games. Not just Japanese language games but korean language games, Chinese and others.
Japanese studies (also known as Japanology, Japanism, Japanisme) is one of the most popular a among East Asian studies. Japanese studies includes not only language but the history, art, culture science and music of the Japanese people. The Japanese have a fan club/cult following in European and Western civilization. The recent iteration of this obsessive subculture starts off with the Japanese popular culture. These fan boys and fan girls lovingly embrace their deragotive name "otaku".
Japanese studies is way beyond otaku because it is the study of the history, literature, art and culture that j-pop, anime and Japanese fashions have come from. I used to be among those who call themselves otaku, but as I have started to study more about Japan I realize there is so much more than the J-pop.
Language in Japan is not just Japanese. There are dialects of Japanese and Ryukyuan, which some say is not just a dialect but a separate language in Japan.
Japanese dialects consist of hyōjungo (標準語), standard language also known as kyōtsūgo (共通語), common language. Then there is Kansai-ben (関西弁), also known as Osaka-ben. This is actually a group of Japanese dialects in the Kansai area of Japan. Kansai area is where Kyoto and Osaka are located.
Kansai-ben has many dialects:
- Shiga dialect (滋賀弁)
- Osaka dialect (大阪弁)
- Yamato dialect
- Kyoto dialect (京都弁)
- Banshū dialect (播州弁)
- Kobe dialect (神戸弁)
- Tamba dialect
- Kohoku dialect
- Wakayama dialect (和歌山弁)
- Mie dialect
- Wakasa dialect
- Tajima-ben (但馬弁)
Ryukyuan languages (琉球語派) also known as Shima kutuba (しまくとぅば) island language.
Look how different Okinawan language is compared to Japanese:
Ryukyuan is about 70% similar to common Japanese. This may be because is 640 kilometers from mainland Japan and was not officially claimed as part of Japan until World War II.
I got into hirgana games in a very round about way. It started a few years ago I was going on business trips to Japan. I had always wanted to go because I am fascinated by the culture. I decided to learn a few words to get around Japan and to be polite. I do this when ever I go to another non-english speaking country as a way to interact with the people and to show respect and appreciation. It works everytime. You respect the culture of others and they usuaally accept you.
As I dove into the Japanese language I started wanting another method of learning. I was memorizng Hiragana and Katakana in the gojūon-zu table but thought it would be cool to have a some sort of fun game to learn Japanese. At the time there were games but nothing with the addictive fun quality you usually have in a real game.
Hirgana Pixel party is among the most popular and can definitely help in learning. Dr. Moku is also great in assisting you memorise by using the doctors prescribed nmemonics but its more like a digitized set of cards than an actual game.
Fast forward, 3 year later I met a very smart programmer, multitalented guy named Rashan who happened to be part Japanese and spoke it fluently. Since we shared a similar passion for creating things, we became immediate friends. We wanted to do a project together. We knew we wanted to do some sort of word puzzle game and kicked around a few ideas.
I mentioned that when ever I tried to learn a language I would look online for a game to learn quicker but could not find it.. The next step was obvious, he knew fluent Japanese, I wanted to learn some Japanese we both love the idea of crafting games so we decided to make hirgana games. Moji Master was born.
Art by Adam "WackWacko" Rakic