The Japanese Language



Countries where Japanese is spoken

Although the Japanese language (Nihongo, 日本語) is only official in Japan, it is ranked 9th by the number of speakers, with 123 million of them estimated worldwide, Brazil being the country with the most number of immigrated Japanese citizens (1.5 million).

Its writing system is a nice blend of three character families:

Hiragana ( phonetic scripts )
Katakana ( phonetic scripts )
Kanji ( Chinese Characters )

In addition, there are two language forms of communication:

1. Hyojungo (standard Japanese) is the one taught in schools and used by media, institutions and formal situations. It is subdivided in Kogo (oral language) and Bungo (literary language).

2. Kyotsugo (common Japanese) is the one used by people in their daily communication.

In Hong Kong, there has been always a high interest in Japan’s language and culture. Moreover, the number of the Japanese population in the city tripled between 1981 and 1999, reaching a similar size as other major (and bigger) cities, such as London and New York. Because of this, the number of companies from the land of the rising sun in the city also doubled on that time.

Nowadays, despite the fact that a significant number of them has left Hong Kong in favour of China or other countries, there are still 1,358 Japanese companies operating in Hong Kong (2014), and those Hong Kong professionals proficient in Japanese are highly valued by both Japanese companies operating in Hong Kong and by overseas companies operating in Japan. Hence Japanese is one of the most studied languages in our city.

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