speak [日本語] is the answer to the title question, but is this the only way to say Japanese in Japanese? Are there other ways to refer to the Japanese language? What is the origin of the Japanese language? Let's understand in this article.
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Why is Japanese Nihongo?
As well as the name of Japan we can refer to the Japanese language also using nihongo [日本語] despite being unusual. In fact, to understand why the Japanese language bears that name, we also need to understand why is japan that name.
Knowing this, you need to understand that any language in Japanese is written with country name + ir [語] which means language or language. This is one of the particularities and facilities of the Japanese language.
The Japanese language is the only official language of the country, despite having different dialects, it results in nihongo. It is estimated that over 130 million people speak the Japanese language, including a large number of foreigners.
Kokugo - The National Language of Japan
Kokugo [国語] is another official way of referring to the Japanese language. In fact this term literally means language or language of the country, so it can refer to other languages depending on the context of the story or conversation.
The term kokugo it can also refer to native Japanese words (as opposed to borrowings). Kokugo is also the name of the educational subject of Japanese schools referring to the Japanese language.
It is worth remembering that the Chinese language in Japanese is Chuugoku [中国語] which uses the same ideograms with a lot of similarity in pronunciation. This is because China in the Japanese language is Chuugoku [中国] which means central country.
Yamato Kotoba - Old Japanese
The word yamato kotoba [大和言葉] refer to the previous language of Japanese spoken until the Asuka period (538-710 AD), sometimes abbreviated as wago [和葉], but the term may differ from the source word yamato kotoba.
Today the word can refer to Japanese poems and elegant words or to words of Japanese origin. It is not entirely correct to say that “yamato kotoba” refers to the very language spoken in Japan before Western and Chinese influence.
Generally most auxiliary words, verbs and adjectives other than the suru verb can be called yamato kotoba. In some cases you can also find written alternatively yamato kotonoha [やまとことのは].
The artigo is still half finished, but we recommend opening it to read the following later:
Other ways of referring to the Japanese language
Jyapaniizu [ジャパニーズ] – Western way of writing Japanese in Japanese.
Kodaigo [古代語] – Refers to the ancient Japanese spoken until the Middle Ages;
Hougo [邦語] – Used to refer to someone's native language, usually referring to Japan within the context and everyday Japanese. Used a lot to refer to things native to Japan or the Japanese language. See also Houbun [邦文].
Kougo [口語] – Refers to spoken Japanese, literally meaning language that comes out of the mouth. In addition to spoken language, it can also refer to colloquial speech or speech.
Gendaigo [現代語] - Refers to modern language, contemporary language and living language. This is modern Japanese, spoken since the Meiji period or since the end of Second World War.
Kango [漢語] - Refers to Japanese words of Chinese origin or Sino-Japanese vocabulary, may refer to ancient Chinese or Japanese language.
Nichigo [日語] - Abbreviation for the Japanese language that is rarely used or can already be considered obsolete. It literally means language of the day.
Bungo [文語] - Refers to written or literary language. It can also be a classic or formal writing style based on Japanese Heian period.
Hyoujungo [標準語] - Refers to the standard Japanese or standard language used primarily by government and education. A variety of language used by a group of people.
Kokuyaku [国訳] - Translation from foreign language to Japanese.
Joudaigo [上代語] - Refers to the ancient language or words spoken from the end of the 6th century to the end of the Nara period.
Yougo [洋語] - Western language or Japanese words of western origin.
Mikunikotoba [御国言葉] – Refers to Japanese but literally means kingdom language (archaic);
Kogo [古語] - Obsolete language;
Japanese Sign Language
A japanese sign language can be written as nihonshuwa [日本手話] and abbreviated as JSL. In Japan it is common to say only shuwa [手話] composed with the characters of hand [手] and language [話].
We also have shuuwagengo [手話言語] to refer to the language and shuwabou [手話法] to refer to sign language and handwriting. The word shuwatsuuyaku [手話通訳] to refer to sign language interpretation or Japanese sign language interpreters.
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