Japan Languages

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Modern-day Japanese is the language of virtually all Japanese living in Japan, but prior to 1868 there were many significant regional variations. Korean is spoken by one-half of one percent of the population. The Ainu language, spoken by the aboriginal Ainu people, is nearly extinct. There are also several Ryukyuan languages, closely related to Japanese, used in Okinawa and other islands in the south. These languages are disappearing as the younger generations are using modern Japanese.

The earliest documents in Japan were written in Chinese. Japanese language documents are written with a complex mixture of three separate writing systems: Japanese in Chinese characters (called Kanji) and two phonetic syllabic systems - Hiragana (more cursive and often used with Kanji characters) and Katakana (more angular and for transcribing words of foreign origin).[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Japan,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.