Geography and Its Place in World Languages
Japanese is spoken by some 125 million people in Japan and in pockets outside of Japan, in such places as Hawaii and Brazil where Japanese immigrants settled around the turn of the twentieth century. Speakers of Japanese are also scattered around in Taiwan and Korea where Japanese was the official language during the Japanese colonial period (Taiwan 1895-1945; Korea 1910-1945), although this number is decreasing and the speakers aging. With this many speakers, Japanese is ranked as ninth in the world in terms of number of speakers. A 2006 MLA statistics showed that more than 66,000 study Japanese at the college level and more than 500,000 at the secondary level in the United States.
According to one kind of language classification, Japanese is considered to be an agglutinating language. This means that a word may consist of several meaningful elements chained together. For example, the word (or a 'sentence'?) tataseraretakunakatta single-handedly takes care of the meaning "he did not want to be made to stand." Although the definition of what constitutes a word is by no means indisputable, it is assumed, for the purpose of this essay, that one can distinguish several meaningful elements in this word, i.e., tat- is the verb 'stand', -as- is a causative marker, -erare- marks passive, -taku marks desire, naka- is a negative marker, -tta- indicates completed action. In contrast, languages like Spanish or French are called inflectional languages. For instance, the o ending in the Spanish verb ending -o in vivo, 'I live', contains a host of different types of information: that the verb is first person singular, present tense, indicative mood, etc. Chinese and, to a lesser degree, English belong to yet another language group, called the analytic languages, in which fusion of the inflective or agglutinative sort occurs to much less extent. Ainu, a language spoken in Japan, and now practically extinct, belongs to a fourth language group, called the polysynthetic languages.
There are other ways of classifying languages. If one uses as a criterion the method by which major constituents (such as subject nominal 'S', object nominal 'O', and verb complex 'V') are ordered in canonical sentences, then Japanese is a verb-final language (SOV language, or more generally, XV language) and English is a SVO language. Korean is also XV and Chinese SVO. Among world languages, Japanese and Korean belong to the most common SOV/(XV) type.
Genetic Affiliation of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese
Scholars have long been interested in the question of if and how Japanese is genetically related to other languages in areas that surround the Japanese islands. To solve this question, historical linguists have developed a scientific method of systematic cross-language comparison called the comparative method. Using this method, they have compared language pairs such as French and Spanish, English and Dutch, etc., and have observed systematic and consistent sound changes and little semantic shifts, which allowed them to conclude that these languages are genetically related. In the case of Japanese, scholars have not succeeded in finding a common ancestral language or a sister language, i.e. a language that shares the same ancestral language. Some have speculated that Japanese is related to Tamil, a Dravidian language spoken in southern India and Sri Lanka, to Korean, or to languages in Southeast Asia, but none of these theories has passed the scrutiny of historical linguists.
Globalization has reached the Education sector too. Each year, more and more students go study abroad. This trend is only going to increase. While the US are still the most sought destination, Japan is becoming more and more popular among young people. And it has become a great destination for them. Japan, new land of opportunity? Yes!
Here are the Top 10 reasons to study in Japan:
1) The Japanese language is not difficult!
Really, Japanese language is not so difficult as it may seem to be. Many students become fluent within a year. Each year, thousands of international students graduate from Japanese language schools, mastering the language. Schools in Japan know how to do it: their students enroll knowing little or no Japanese. They leave being fluent. Of course, that requires dedication and hard work. But it is possible. And as you will see below, knowing the language will open many doors to you – and for your career. Further, the Japanese language is much more than the usual language skills. The non-verbal cues are extremely important to communicate in Japan. Becoming familiar to that will enhance your communication skills wherever you go on the world.
2) Compared to other popular study-abroad destinations, Japan is quite cheap
One year tuition fee in a Japanese school or university costs about 6,000$. That’s half or even the third of what would cost equivalent studies in the US. Or in the UK, to name just two of most popular destinations. Likewise, the cost of living is lower in Japan (we will discuss that in another post soon). On top of that, many scholarships are awarded to international students. With or without scholarship, studying is Japan may bring the best value.
3) The quality of Education in Japan is high
Whether you simply want to study the language or want to enroll in a higher education institution, you can be sure of one thing: the quality of teaching will be high. This is just the rule in Japan: services are top-notch, and that includes Education. Evidence of that is showed by the high number of Nobel Prizes awarded to Japanese people (the highest in Asia, and second in the World since 2000) and the statistics provided by the OECD (for example: Japan constantly has 10 or more universities among the top-200 in the world, Japan is always among the world leaders in literacy).
4) A Large choice of institutions to choose from
Japan has about 800 universities. And countless Vocational schools and Language Schools (to integrate higher education institutes, you may have to first study at a Language School). As the Japanese government has pledged that it wants to double the number of international students by 2020 (to reach 300,000), institutions have more and more programs for foreigners. International students are really welcome, if not wanted. For example, that will shows in the fact that more and more programs in Japan start in September to accommodate foreigners, instead of April. Whatever your field of Education, whatever your skills, the possibilities are almost limitless. The choice is truly yours.
5) Japan, a great school … of life
Living abroad – wherever that may be – is a great school of life. Japan even more so. In Japan, you will learn so much. For example, did you know that in Japanese, one seldom uses the pronoun “I” in comparison to westerners? That might be a detail but it actually tells a lot. Oriental philosophy, Japanese way of thinking … New perspectives. A new world will open up to you in Japan.
6) “Arbeit”: how to make your studies in Japan even less expensive
As we saw above, the cost of studies in Japan is rather low compared to other developed countries. In addition to that, another nice local feature may make your studies even less expensive. In Japan, foreign students are allowed to work up to 28 hours per week. Most international students decide to work. And they do find jobs easily. So it will really be up to you whether you need the extra income. It could cover your daily expenses. It could enable you to go out more, to travel. The choice is really yours in Japan!
7) After graduation, many job opportunities await in Japan
You will love Japan and chances are you will want to stay after your studies. That would be a good decision because the Japanese job market is extremely fluid. And the demand for language-skilled, international-oriented people is always strong. Basically, you would appeal to so many (big) Japanese companies that you would have no issue finding a job, regardless of the industry you choose. The job market is that good. As a matter of fact, 50% of Japanese companies are eager to find foreign graduates from Japanese schools. Last but not least, in Japan wages are high for qualified jobs.
8) As a matter of fact, many job opportunities await anywhere
Having studied in Japan – and thus speaking the language – will be greatly viewed if you decide to come back home, or go to another country. Your new skills and experience will be assets for you to find good jobs. Japanese big companies have branches all over the world. And, since Japan has such a powerful economy, companies abroad look at the Japanese market with interest and therefore hire people with your profile. Thanks to your new experience you will stand out.
9) Discover a unique culture
Japan is unique in many ways. Studying in Japan will bring you more than a new language and/or a new degree. You will learn on a personal level, as was mentioned before. But you will also discover a new culture, new arts, new hobbies maybe, a new way of life for sure, combining traditions and modernism. In no other country will you experience such contrasts. High technology everywhere … Deeply rooted traditions everywhere as well. And yet a unique, harmonious and serene environment. Japanese culture is ingrained in business too. Japanese creativity makes for reputed engineering and famous designers.
10) Simply: Life in Japan is GREAT!
Japan is the third economy in the world. Life there is very comfortable. It may be the safest developed country. The Health insurance system is good. The (public) transportation is reliable. The services are second to none in the world. People are known to be generally very welcoming, respectful and polite. Japan boast some of the most amazing nature sceneries. Food is very healthy (surely one of the reasons why Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world). Unemployment is low (see 5)). And we could go on and on. What’s not to like? Don’t make us wrong: there is no such thing as the perfect place. But surely, one of the best reasons to study in Japan is that it is a great place to live in.