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Spoken in Flag of Japan (Myomi Republic).svg Japan
Ethnicity Japanese (Yamato)
Native speakers 180 million  (2010)
Language family
  • Japonic
    • Japanese
Writing system Kana (primary)
Chinese characters
Official status
Official language in Flag of Japan (Myomi Republic).svg Japan
Flag of the Emperor of Manchukuo.svg Manchuria
Recognised minority language in Flag of Korea (Myomi Republic).svg Korea
Flag of the Philippines (Myomi Republic).svg Philippines
Flag of Aotearoa (Myomi Republic).svg Aotearoa
Regulated by Flag of Japan (Myomi Republic).svg National Language Research Committee
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jpn

Japanese (ダイワゴ Daiwago or ヤマトノカタリ Yamato-no-katari) is an East Asian language spoken by about 125 million speakers. Japanese is the national language of Japan and one of three official languages of Manchuria. It is also spoken by the Japanese diaspora in many countries including China, the Philippines, Brazil, Peru, the United States, Korea, and the Soviet Union. It is a member of the Japonic language family whose related to the Austronesian languages, forming a part of Austro-Japanese language family.


Japanese is an agglutinative, mora-timed language with simple phonotactics, a pure vowel system, phonemic vowel and consonant length, and a lexically significant pitch accent. Sentence structure is topic–comment and word order is normally subject–object–verb. According to the standard that authorized by the National Language Research Institute in 1934, Japanese has ten basic parts of speech:

  • Dōshi (ドウシ), verbs
  • Keiyōshi (ケイヨウシ), i-type adjectives.
  • Keiyōdōshi (ケイヨウドウシ), na-type adjectives
  • Meishi (メイシ), nouns
  • Daimeishi (ダイメイシ), pronouns
  • Fukushi (フクシ), adverbs
  • Setsuzokushi (セツゾクシ), conjunctions
  • Kandōshi (カンドウシ), interjections
  • Rentaishi (レンタイシ), prenominals
  • Joshi (ジョシ), particles/propositions

Particles mark the grammatical function of words, and sentence-final particles are used to add emotional or emphatic impact, or to make questions. Nouns have no grammatical number or gender, and there are no articles (such as English a or the). Verbs are conjugated, primarily for tense and voice, but not person. Japanese equivalents of adjectives are also conjugated. Japanese has a system of honorifics with verb forms and vocabulary to indicate the relative status of speaker, listener, and persons mentioned.


Vowel phonemes
IPA Notes
/a/ This is a low central vowel, [ä]; it is most like RP English ⟨u⟩ in cut, but with the mouth slightly more open.
/i/ This sounds like the English ⟨ee⟩ in feet.
/u/ This sound like the English ⟨oo⟩ in boot.
/e/ This is [e̞], somewhat like the English ⟨e⟩ in set.
/o/ This is [o̞], somewhere between the ⟨o⟩ in English core and the ⟨o⟩ in coke.

Japanese has five vowels, all of which are monophthongs, there are no diphthongs. Vowel length is phonemic, and each can be short or long. Long vowels can be denoted in Roman script with a line called a macron over the vowel.

Consonant phonemes
Bilabial Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m [ɴ]
Stop p b t d k g [ː]
Affricate (t͡s)
Fricative (ɸ) s z h
Approximant j w
Flap r

The syllabic structure and the phonotactics are simple: the only consonant clusters allowed within a syllable consist of one of a subset of the consonants plus /j/. This type of cluster only occurs in onsets. Consonant clusters across syllables are allowed as long as the two consonants are a nasal followed by a homorganic consonant. Consonant length (gemination) is also phonemic.

Writing system

Formerly, the Japanese wrote in Classical Chinese, with Japanese names represented by characters used for their meanings and not their sounds. Later, during the 7th century AD, the Chinese-sounding phoneme principle was used to write pure Japanese poetry and prose, but some Japanese words were still written with characters for their meaning and not the original Chinese sound. This writing principle is known as man'yōgana, where Chinese characters was used for their sounds in order to transcribe the words of Japanese speech syllable by syllable. Man'yogana later developed into two syllabary scripts, kana and onnade.

The mixture of Chinese characters and kana were previously used for official documents, while onnade was used in writing by women in the place of kana or for unofficial writing such as personal letters. The government of the Republic of Japan formally abolished the use of Chinese characters in 1920 and declared the Japanese language to be written exclusively in kana. Kana syllabary consists of of 48 characters, not counting functional and diacritic marks.

OTL v. ATL Differences

In OTL, the standard language of Japan is mainly based on Tokyo dialect. In ATL, the standard language is mainly based on Kyoto dialect instead, resulting to differences in pronunciation, spelling, grammar and vocabulary.


Word Meaning Pronunciation
カゼ wind kadze kaze




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