Japanese language

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The Japanese language (Kanji: 日本語; Hiragana: にほんご; nihongo) incorporates three writing systems: Chinese characters known as kanji and a pair of semi-alphabetic syllabaries called kana. Its grammar is similar to the Korean language. It is an SOV language. It also has a completely different syntax pattern from English, and as such is notorious for getting massive mistranslations from online translation sites such as Google Translate.



In Japanese, particles function as prepositions. They are more accurately called postpositions, though. They come after the noun they are being applied to.

For instance: 私は魚をヘアロドさんに上げた。 Watashi (ha) wa sakana (wo) o Hearodo san ni ageta.

The particles "wa", "o" and "ni" all come after the noun. The sentence above translates to "I gave fish to Harold"

The particle wa is the topic marker. This is a foreign concept to English speaking people. Take this sentence, "Zou wa hana ga nagai desu." The topic is "zou", elephant. The particle ga shows that "hana", nose, is the subject of the sentence. The sentence roughly translates to "As for elephants, their noses are long." There is added confusion though. In the sentence "Watashi wa Ichiro desu" you would expect it to translate to "As for myself, am Ichiro" when in truth it means "I am Ichiro".

  • は Wa: Topic (Boku waIchiro da) [written as ha]
  • が Ga: Subject (Zou wa hana ga nagai desu)
  • を O: Direct Object (chiizu o taberu) [written as wo]
  • に Ni: Indirect Object (Tanaka-san ni hanasu)
  • へ E: Destination Indicator (Tokyo e!) [written as he]
  • で De: Action Indicator (Niigata dewa sakana o taberu)
  • の No: Possession Indicator (Watashi no kamera)
  • と To: Connector (Ashita boushi to undou gutsu o motte kite kudasai) [used for complete lists e.g.: "The four gospels are Matthew to Mark to Luke to John."]
  • や Ya: Connector (Gakkou ga hajimattara, pen ya nooto ya jisho ga hitsuyo desu) [used for incomplete lists e.g.: "The four gospels include Matthew ya Mark."]
  • も Mo: Includer (Watashi mo miru!)
  • か Ka: Question marker (Ima wa nan ji desu ka)