The Japanese language (Nihongo)
Japanese is spoken by 126 million people mainly in Japan but also in 26 other countries including American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guam, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines and Taiwan.
Japanese has no known linguistic relatives though is possibly distantly related to the Altaic family of languages, which includes Korean, Mongolian and Turkic languages. Japanese is not related to Chinese, though it does contain a huge number of Chinese ‘loan’ words, in fact perhaps 50% of the words used in Japanse are of Chinese origin.
Since the mid 18th century the Japanese have adopted a huge amount of gairaigo: foreign words mainly from English. These include tēburu (table), bīru (beer), gurasu (glass), aisu (ice), takushī(taxi) and hoteru (hotel).
There are also a few words from Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish, such as pan (bread), from the Portuguese pão. Such words arrived in Japan mainly during the 16th and 17th centuries, when missionaries and merchants started to visit the country.
One notable feature of Japanese is the tendency to create new words by shortening and/or combining English words. Examples include wāpuro (word processor), sarariman (“salary man” = a male corporate employee), OL, pronounced ōeru (“office lady” = a female corporate employee) andmasukomi (mass communications).