Talk:Japanese language

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Former featured article candidate Japanese language is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
January 19, 2004 Refreshing brilliant prose Not kept

article aspect[edit]

Nouns have no grammatical number, gender or article aspect.

By loose analogy with verb aspect I guess that "article aspect" means definiteness; but is that a standard term? —Tamfang (talk) 03:44, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Don't all clarify at once ... —Tamfang (talk) 07:43, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Doesn't mean anything. I assume it's a translation problem. I'd just say "and there are no articles". — kwami (talk) 07:59, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I didn't understand this either, and I can't find any evidence that it is a known term. I have changed it per Kwami's suggestion. (talk) 04:00, 19 February 2013 (UTC)


"Latin script is used in a limited way, often in the form of rōmaji..."

There is debate and uncertainty elsewhere about whether "romaji" refers only to Japanese words transliterated into the Latin alphabet (e.g. konnichiwa) or whether it also includes embedded use of Roman characters within Japanese text, such as the adoption of acronyms like "DVD". Whichever definition is accepted, I'm not sure that "often in the form of rōmaji" actually makes sense. I'm tempted to remove it, but does anyone else have a view? (talk) 03:55, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Omission of pronouns[edit]

10= dew — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:55, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

The article currently says:

While the language has some words that are typically translated as pronouns, these are not used as frequentforly as pronouns in some Indo-European languages, and function differently. Instead, Japanese typically relies on special verb forms and auxiliary verbs to indicate the direction of benefit of an action: "down" to indicate the out-group gives a benefit to the in-group; and "up" to indicate the in-group gives a benefit to me dic


"Instead ... typically" gives the impression that such special forms serve to disambiguate in most cases where pronouns are omitted. In fact, this is not true, as far as I understand it. These special "giving"/"receiving" forms apply only in a relatively small number of cases, and, of course, normally only with human subjects. (talk) 02:38, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

I don't think the special "giving"/"receiving" forms are even remotely related to pronouns, but this unreferenced paragraph implies they are. Where did this come from? Is this OR? Curly Turkey (gobble) 04:24, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
I think the supposed connection with pronouns is that the "giving/receiving" forms can clarify the subject and object/target of a verb (e.g. whether it's "he gave me" or "I gave him") when pronouns are absent. I didn't think that in itself was unreasonable (correct me if I'm wrong), just that the wording made it seem like a more widespread and general-purpose mechanism than it really is. (talk) 11:54, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Note, too, that the so-labeled "giving/receiving" forms are used outside of what is generally thought of in English as "giving/receiving" -- things like "I did XX for YY", which could be stated without using pronouns in a manner such as "XX してあげた" ("XX shite ageta", informal), or things like "let me do XX", stated as "XX させていただきます" ("XX sasete itadakimasu", formal). -- Eiríkr ÚtlendiTala við mig 16:47, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
あげる should be compared with やる and it has nothing to do with formal/informal. Usually, あげる is used when the speaker talks about older people like "母に歌を歌ってあげました/I sang a song to my mother" and やる is used when the speaker talks about younger people or non-human like "弟の宿題を手伝ってやった/I helped my younger brother to do his homework" and "犬に餌をやる/I feed my dog". "させていただく" is another matter and a lot of people use it incorrectly in these days. As for "giving/receiving", this might be helpful. [1] Oda Mari (talk) 18:00, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
@Oda-san, "informal" is just in reference to ageta as opposed to agemashita -- i.e., to indicate that this is the informal plain form, and not masu/desu. Eiríkr ÚtlendiTala við mig 18:51, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
  • I have changed "typically" to "in some cases". (talk) 19:31, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
    Which leaves us with the same problem—an implied relation where there is none. Also, it's still unreferenced. Curly Turkey (gobble) 21:51, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
The real problem is that there is no omission of pronouns in Japanese. Japanese simply doesn't use pronouns where European languages do; it's not like anything has been left out. — kwami (talk) 00:17, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
No, that's not actually the problem at all. While it certainly could be reworded to be more clear, the text does say that Japanese "has some words that are typically translated as pronouns", which is true. Even people who have demostrated that they know better typically describe these words as pronouns. The "instead", though, strongly implies ther's a relation between these "not-pronouns" and the "up" and "down" verbs (a description that itself is gibberish to anyone who doesn't already know the the text is talking about). The whole paragraph (and much of the article) needs a thourough re-think before a re-write. Also, the text quoted above isn't the only mangling of the "pronoun" issue—check out "Japanese speakers tend to omit pronouns on the theory they are inferred from the previous sentence". What "theory"? "inferred from the previous sentence"? ... except when there was no previous sentence, but still the "pronoun" (or other subject) was never made explicit? Again, no source, of course, because no reliable source would spout this gibberish. Curly Turkey (gobble) 22:02, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
So are you saying there are no cases in which the "giving/receiving" forms help to identify the subjects and objects of verbs when they are omitted? (talk) 11:57, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Using the examples in the article, if I said oshiete moratta, how could you tell if the person being taught/told was "me" and not "my mother"? Or "you", for that matter? Curly Turkey (gobble) 13:18, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
My knowledge of Japanese is not good enough to answer that, or to answer my own question. (talk) 14:00, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

As for the reference to "usted" in Spanish, "Usted" (being 2nd person formal/respectful pronoun) is actually from Arabic, the source being the Arabic word "Ustaz" which literally means "professor" or "teacher", but is used as an honorific in the 2nd person. Never heard reference to what is quoted in the article before, but then my Spanish is street Spanish, and not Castilian from the court in Madrid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jmland2 (talkcontribs) 21:30, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

Phonology and consonant clusters[edit]

The Phonology section makes the statement that:

However, consonant clusters across syllables are allowed as long as the two consonants are a nasal followed by a homorganic consonant.

In the orthography, and in careful speech, this is the case -- you only ever encounter intersyllabic clusters based on ん (the moraic nasal), such as:

  • /VɴkV/: [kõ̞ɴka̠i] (今回, konkai): “this time”
  • /VɴgV/: [hã̠ɴŋa̠] (版画, hanga): “a print, a printed picture”
  • /VntV/: [kã̠ntã̠ɴ] (簡単, kantan): “easy, simple”
  • /VmbV/: [õ̞mbɯᵝ] (負んぶ, onbu): “piggyback”

However, in everyday speech, other clusters also occur with the sibilant sounds, such as:

  • /VɕtV/: [ɕta̠] (した, shita): “did”
  • /VskV/: [so̞ːde̞ska̠] (そうですか, sō desu ka): “is that so?”

Japanese-language references about Japanese phonology, such as the NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 (NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary, ISBN 978-4-14-011112-3), describe certain vowels as being unvoiced in particular words. This is often indicated in Japanese phonology texts by circling the kana containing the unvoiced vowel with a dotted line, as in た (shita, “did”). In careful speech, the unvoiced vowel is realized by speakers making that mouth shape but just omitting the voice, indicated in IPA by an under-circle, as in [ɕi̥ta̠]. However, in more casual speech, the sibilant alone is pronounced, with the unvoiced vowel so foreshortened as to be effectively omitted, producing [ɕta̠] instead.

I think this bears mentioning in the article. Has anyone run across published materials describing this phenomenon? I thought Shibatani might have, but I cannot find my copy at the moment. -- Eiríkr ÚtlendiTala við mig 17:51, 11 July 2013 (UTC)


The infobox says that Japanese is the "official" language in Japan, but the main text says it "has no official status". Something not quite right there. (talk) 03:42, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

i want a leave for tommoro but will come on friday — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

OK, whatever suits you. (talk) 22:06, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Geographic distribution: Philippines[edit]

I'm not sure how this source and this source support "and the Philippines (particularly in Davao and Laguna)" at the end of Japanese language#Geographic distribution, so I have removed them per WP:RSCONTEXT and WP:SYN. Both links are dead, but archived versions can be found here and here.

The first source is about pottery in the Philippines. There is no mention of either "Davao" or "Laguna" at all in the article and no mention of "Japanese" as a language or its spread to the Philippines. The phrase "Japanese texts" is used quite a bit, but I don't believe this is in reference to the Japanese language. Rather, I believe it is referring to materials written in Japanese about pottery in the Philippines. I just don't see any direct connection between this source and the "geographic distribution" of the Japanese language.

The second source "The Cultural Influences of India, China, Arabia, and Japan" only makes reference to "Japan" twice throughout the entire article. Once in the title and once in the sentence "The Japanese made some important contributions to Philippine life too. They taught the early Filipinos certain industries such as the manufacture of arms and tools, the tanning of deerskin, and the artificial breeding of ducks and fish." Again, there is no mention of "Davao" or "Laguna" or "Japanese language" and its spread to the Philippines. Whatever connection there is between this source and the "geographic distribution" is very flimsy at best in my opinion and unacceptable per "RSCONTEXT".

I think it's possible that the IP who added these sources with this edit was acting in good faith, but was also interpreting them in a way that is not acceptable per WP:SYN. I normally don't delete links just because they are dead, but instead try to fix them per WP:PLRT. If another editor can figure out a way to make these links work, then please do, but I think this is a problem that cannot be fixed. - Marchjuly (talk) 04:39, 18 December 2014 (UTC)


色は匂えど 散りぬるを 我が世たれぞ 常ならん 有為の奥山 今日越えて 浅き夢見じ えいもせず-- (talk) 08:44, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Please try to use Engish as much as possible to discuss articles on talk pages per WP:SPEAKENGLISH. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Marchjuly (talkcontribs) 14:14, 7 June 2015‎ (UTC)
Since this is about the Japanese language, we are more lenient here. English is preferred, but we can help people in Japanese if needed. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 07:09, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
No problem Nihonjoe. Going by some of the other edits made by this IP, I thought this post might also have something to do with the proposed changes to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, but I remembered last night that these are the lyrics to Iroha (いろは歌) which is sort of like the Japanese "ABC song". My bad for not realizing it sooner. - Marchjuly (talk) 07:26, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
Aha. Oddly, I've never actually heard the song, though I've heard of it. That makes sense now. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 15:44, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

Official language[edit]

@WikiImprovment78: What are you trying to say here? General Ization Talk 14:06, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

Nevermind, I understand now (though this could stand some further explication and/or references in the article, with a ref linked to the infobox entry). General Ization Talk 14:27, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Old Japanese /p/ vs /ɸ/[edit]

In section History#Old Japanese: "Old Japanese does not have /h/, but rather /ɸ/ (preserved in modern fu, /ɸɯ/), which has been reconstructed to an earlier */p/."

This statement appears to state that Old Japanese had the phoneme /ɸ/, while */p/ was present in an earlier stage. The article on Old Japanese is fairly clear in reconstructing the phoneme as */p/ during the Old Japanese period, which ended in the 8th century. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vimitsu (talkcontribs) 02:32, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

Need help with an article citation[edit]

Hi. Someone cited this page as a source in an article. Can someone here translate it? Thanks. Nightscream (talk) 20:54, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

Birthdate: 1 January
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 95kg
Blood type: B
Nationality: Japan
Fighting style: Own style of karate
Important thing: His girlfriend (Chie)
Favourite thing: Headband hand-made by Chie
Least favourite thing: Studying; people who push their luck
Special skill: Killing cows (?!?)
It's possible that 牛殺し "killing cows" is a metaphorical name for something other than killing cows (I hope so!), but I don't know the term. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:23, 27 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, CT! Nightscream (talk) 23:34, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

Infobox language picture[edit]

In the infobox in the beginning of the article "Japanese language" (nihongo) is written in Japanese script. It looks like a semi-cursive script but the shape of the bottom part of 言 (口) is quite unusual. There is a lot of semi-cursive styles in China and Japan, so I am not telling that this is absolutely wrong, but I think that this shape is too rare to be chosen as the representative shape in this introduction. --Maidodo (talk) 08:53, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

I find it appropriate because the style looks uniquely Japanese. There are few kanji fonts that look clearly non-Chinese, and to my eye this one does. MJ (tc) 21:27, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

Language family color[edit]

As there is no accepted classification and the official japanese side say it is isolated, we should change the color to isolated. adopting from japanese wiki,

actually there are no japanese linguists that support the altaic theory anymore. also most or all modern western linguists say japonic and koreanic are not altaic,

so the japanese support mostly the isolated or austronesian theory and koreans the isolated or dravido-koreanic theory, but also the paleo-asian theory made by Vovin alexander. the altaic theory is dead. no genetically connection. so it is sooner or later clear that the altaic theory, if true, only include turkic, mongolic and tungusic.

--이준성 오스트리아 (talk) 16:39, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Peer Feedback LING 110[edit]


This Wikipedia article really well written: the sections are organized in an orderly manner, the language of used in the article sound neutral, the sources are reliable and recent enough, and the images and tables match the content. However, I think some of the writing can be rephrased to make it easier for readers to read. Also, the article touches upon the use of honorifics in the Japanese language, but only talks about one particular one "-san". I thought it would be helpful to list all the honorifics and briefly explain which honorific is used when talking to different people.

Angelali98 (talk) 02:49, 28 July 2017 (UTC)Angelali98

@Angelali98: That's a very broad topic to cover here. There is a separate article at Japanese honorifics which covers this topic in more detail (though that article needs a lot of work). The reason "-san" is covered here is because it is the default honorific to use, and (unless you're knowingly addressing royalty or nobility) is perfectly acceptable in almost every situation. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 02:53, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Just a quick question[edit]

Which Japanese to English translator is the most accurate? --PSI Thunder (talk) 16:24, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Colon Abuse[edit]

These days, many articles in Wikipedia use colon (;) extensively. It's not meant to be used that much. In this article, it appears 46 times! Read Newsweek magazine articles, for example, and you'll hardly find any. (talk) 11:47, 23 August 2017 (UTC)

The character ; is a semicolon not a colon. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:27, 27 August 2017 (UTC)