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Japanese Language’s Origins

Japanese Language's Origins

There are many theories seeking to explain the origin of the Japanese language, none of which is uncontested. Citing the many grammatical similarities, some scholars have linked Japanese to Korean or to Mongolian and the other Altaic languages.

Other scholars seek the languages origins in the ecologically and culturally similar societies from Southern China to the Himalayas. Yet others claim the language’s origins are the same as the Polynesian or Dravidian languages.

The oldest known record of Japanese dates back to the 3rd century, when a Chinese history book entry on Japan contained several Japanese words. Although Japanese has long used Chinese ideograms (kanji) for writing, it has also developed its own phonetic kana syllabaries based upon well-known ideograms. Today the ideograms and kana phonetics are used together in standard writing, and the complexity of this kanji-kana intermix is another factor keeping Japanese from becoming an international language.


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