An Ancient tongue, also known to the Japanese as “日本語 – Nihongo” is spoken by over 125 million people living across the Japanese archipelago and in immigrant communities abroad, notably Brazil. Although it has a relatively simple grammar system and what has been regarded as a typically ‘pure’ pronunciation (i.e. no diphthongs), the language is distinguished by a complex level system. In this system, the interlocutors’ forms of speech may vary – including verb forms and vocabulary – depending upon one other’s relative status and the status of any other persons mentioned.
Traditional “Kanji” characters are derived from the Chinese alphabet of which upto three thousand kanji are in regular use used to convey meanings in sentences and is often combined with “Kana” the modern Japanese which has the two syllabaries (Hiragana and Katakana) used to denote grammar each containing 46 basic characters, and representing one sound. In addition these scripts are used with “Romanji” for romanised words incorporated into modern Japanese. Most Japanese sentences contain kanji and hiragana, while some also use katakana, sometimes all in the same line. This mixing of scripts and the large number of traditional kanji characters, has made Japanese fairly difficult to learn and therefore requires an ongoing commitment.