How well do you know the Japanese language?



9 Questions

What is the basis of the standard dialect of Japanese?

What is the copula verb in Japanese?

What is the name of the list of kanji that Japanese students are required to learn by the end of high school?

What is the name of the Japanese writing system primarily used to write foreign words, plant and animal names, and for emphasis?

What is the structure of Japanese word order?

What is the name of the Japanese writing system used for words without kanji representation and for showing conjugational endings?

What is the name of the Japanese language proficiency test provided by the Japanese government for second language learners?

What is the name of the Japanese culture of 'naughty' teenage girls that emerged in the 1990s and changed Japanese norms of gender and language?

What is the name of the distinct branch of the Japonic family spoken in Okinawa and the Amami Islands, considered 'endangered' by UNESCO?


Language spoken in Japan

  • Japanese is spoken by around 128 million people, primarily Japanese people and primarily in Japan, the only country where it is the national language.

  • Little is known of the language's prehistory, or when it first appeared in Japan.

  • From the Heian period, extensive waves of Sino-Japanese vocabulary entered the language, affecting the phonology of Early Middle Japanese.

  • Late Middle Japanese saw extensive grammatical changes and the first appearance of European loanwords.

  • The basis of the standard dialect moved from the Kansai region to the Edo region (modern Tokyo) in the Early Modern Japanese period.

  • Following the end of Japan's self-imposed isolation in 1853, the flow of loanwords from European languages increased significantly, and words from English roots have proliferated.

  • Japanese is an agglutinative, mora-timed language with relatively simple phonotactics, a pure vowel system, phonemic vowel and consonant length, and a lexically significant pitch-accent.

  • Japanese writing system combines Chinese characters, known as kanji, with two unique syllabaries derived by the Japanese from the more complex Chinese characters: hiragana and katakana.

  • Japanese emigrant communities sometimes employ Japanese as their primary language.

  • Japanese has no official status in Japan, but is the de facto national language of the country.

  • Japanese dialects typically differ in terms of pitch accent, inflectional morphology, vocabulary, and particle usage.

  • The Ryūkyūan languages, spoken in Okinawa and the Amami Islands, are distinct enough to be considered a separate branch of the Japonic family and are classified by UNESCO as 'endangered'.Overview of the Japanese Language

  • Japanese is a member of the Japonic language family and is often called a language isolate.

  • Attempts have been made to show its genealogical relation to other languages or language families, but only the link to Ryukyuan has wide support.

  • Japanese has five vowels, and vowel length is phonemic, with each having both a short and a long version.

  • Some Japanese consonants have several allophones, which may give the impression of a larger inventory of sounds.

  • Japanese has a pitch accent, which is not represented in syllabic writing.

  • Japanese word order is classified as subject–object–verb, and the only strict rule of word order is that the verb must be placed at the end of a sentence.

  • Japanese personal pronouns are generally used only in situations requiring special emphasis as to who is doing what to whom.

  • Verbs are conjugated to show tenses, of which there are two: past and present (or non-past) which is used for the present and the future.

  • Questions have the same structure as affirmative sentences, but with intonation rising at the end.

  • Negatives are formed by inflecting the verb.

  • The word da (plain), desu (polite) is the copula verb.

  • The verb "to do" (suru, polite form shimasu) is often used to make verbs from nouns.Overview of the Japanese Language

  • Japanese language has three types of adjectives: i-adjectives, na-adjectives, and adjectival nouns.

  • The grammatical function of nouns is indicated by postpositions, also called particles.

  • Japanese has an extensive grammatical system to express politeness and formality.

  • Japanese has a rich collection of sound symbolism, both onomatopoeia for physical sounds, and more abstract words.

  • There are three main sources of words in the Japanese language, the yamato kotoba (native Japanese words), kango (words of Chinese origin), and gairaigo (borrowed words).

  • Japanese is written in a mixture of three main systems: kanji, hiragana, and katakana.

  • Attempts to limit the number of kanji in use commenced in the mid-19th century.

  • Japanese students begin to learn kanji from their first year at elementary school.

  • The difference between honorific and humble speech is particularly pronounced in the Japanese language.

  • Japanese children rarely use polite speech until they are teens.

  • Most Japanese people employ politeness to indicate a lack of familiarity.

  • Literacy was introduced to Japan in the form of the Chinese writing system, by way of Baekje before the 5th century.Overview of the Japanese Language

  • Japanese has three writing systems: kanji, hiragana, and katakana.

  • Kanji are adopted Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system.

  • The jōyō kanji is a list of 2,136 kanji that Japanese students are required to learn by the end of high school.

  • Hiragana is used for words without kanji representation, for words no longer written in kanji, for replacement of rare kanji, and for showing conjugational endings.

  • Katakana are primarily used to write foreign words, plant and animal names, and for emphasis.

  • Different linguistic features are used in the Japanese language depending on the speaker's gender, including first-person pronouns and sentence-final particles.

  • In the 1990s, a popular culture of "naughty" teenage girls emerged, called kogal, which changed Japanese norms of gender and language.

  • Many universities and schools worldwide offer Japanese language courses, with over 3.6 million people studying the language globally.

  • The Japanese government provides standardized tests to measure spoken and written comprehension of Japanese for second language learners, such as the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which features five levels of exams.


Test your knowledge of the Japanese language with our quiz! From the phonetics and grammar to the writing systems and cultural nuances, this quiz covers it all. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, challenge yourself to see how well you know this unique language spoken by over 128 million people. Keywords: Japanese language, phonetics, grammar, writing systems, culture, JLPT.

Ready to take the quiz?

Start Quiz