How To Make a Language Evolve in an Original Way!

How To Make a Language Evolve in an Original Way!
Japanese language evolved in various way through the time

Did you know that the Japanese language keep evolve? Introducing new concepts from Western culture in Japan has always been a bit hard, due to big differences in the language. However, incorporating foreign concepts is a distinctive trait of the Japanese people!

Keep reading to find out why, by learning new vocabulary in Japanese!

To keep training with a bilingual magazine, check other interesting articles content partner Hiragana Times here!

Japanese Language Continues to Evolve, Incorporating Foreign Cultures

外国(がいこく)の文化(ぶんか)を取(と)りれ進化(しんか)し続(つづ)ける日本語(にほんご)

“Convenience stores” were introduced to Japan from the U.S. around 1970.

1970年(ねん)前後(ぜんご) に「コンビニエンスストア」がアメリカから日本(にほん) に導入(どうにゅう)されました。

Since there were no stores in Japan with this concept, the name “convenience store” was adopted as-is into the Japanese language.

日本(にほん)にはこのような概念(がいねん)の店(みせ)がなかったので、日本語(にほんご)でもそのままコンビニエンスストアの名称(めいしょう)で取(と)り入(い)れました。

However, because of its word length, the abbreviation “konbini” became widespread. The same goes for the widespread use of the word “terebi” derived from the word “television.”

しかし長(なが)いので、略称(りゃくしょう)の「コンビニ」が広(ひろ)がりました。「テレビジョン」が「テレビ」として広(ひろ)がったパターンと同(おな)じです。

The Peculiarity of the Language Force It to Evolve

Whenever a new cultural concept is introduced from overseas, the Japanese take the original language and use it as it is, evolving it into the Japanese language.

日本人(にほんじん)は海外(かいがい)から新(あた)しい概念(がいねん)の文化(ぶんか)が入(はい)ってくると、原語(げんぎ)をそのまま取(と)りいれ、日本語(にほんご)として進化(しんか)させて使(つか)います。

The same was true in ancient times, as for the reading parts of kanji characters introduced from China were used as Japanese characters.

古代(こだい)も同(おな)じで、中国(ちゅうごく)から導入(どうにゅう)された漢字(かんじ)の読(よ)みの部分(ぶぶん)を日本語(にほんご)の文字(もじ)として使(つか)いました。

However, because of the complexity of kanji, characters evolved to create hiragana and katakana.

しかし、漢字(かんじ)は複雑(ふくざつ)なため、その一部(いちぶ)を抜(ぬ)き出(だ)して、ひらがな、カタカナを作(つく)り出(だ)しました。

Additionally, Japanese characters replicated sounds similar to the original sounds of foreign words such as Chinese and English. That is to say, these foreign words were modified for a Japanese pronunciation.

さらに、中国語(ちゅうごくご)や英語(えいご)などの海外(かいがい)の言葉(ことば)の原音(げんおん)と近(ちか)い音(おと)を持(も)つ日本語文字(にほんごもじ)が当(あ)てられました。つまり、日本語(にほんご)の発音(はつおん)で置(お)き換(か)えたのです。

In other words, it is a Japaneseization of a foreign language. There are 45 sounds in Japanese, all of which can be pronounced with their variants, as well as with the long sound and double consonants that are unique to the Japanese language.

言(い)い換(かえ)えれば、これは外国語(がいこくご)の日本語化(にほんごか)です。日本語(にほんご)の音(おと)は45ありますが、これに、その変化形(へんかけい)と日本語独自(にほんごどくじ)の長音(ちょうおん)と促音(そくおん)で、すべて発音(はつおん)できます。

In the Meiji period (19-20th century), for the many concepts that did not exist in Japanese, the corresponding words for these concepts, introduced from the West, were created in kanji.

日本語(にほんご)にない概念(がいねん)が欧米(おうべい)からたくさん入(はい)ってきた明治時代(めいじじだい)(19~20世紀)(じゅうきゅうからにじゅうせいき)には、それぞれに該当(がいとう)する言葉(ことば)を漢字(かんじ)で作(つく)りました。

For example, “democracy” gave rise to the word “minshu” meaning people-oriented. Such idioms were reimported to China and are still in use today. The Japanese language is always evolving.

例(たと)えば、「デモクラシー」は、国民(こくみん)が主体(しゅたい)という意味(いみ)の「民主」(みんしゅ)という言葉(ことば)を生(う)み出(だ)しました。このような熟語(じゅくご)は、中国(ちゅうごく)に逆輸入(ぎゃくゆにゅう)されて現在(げんざい)も使(つか)われています。日本語(にほんご)はいつの時代(じだい)も進化(しんか)し続(つづ)けているのです。

Hope you enjoyed it!

To learn how to write foreign words in Japanese, check this article about the Katakana syllabary.

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