With about 127 million speakers, and a share of 2.4% of world population, Japan is in the list of the most widely spoken languages in 9th place Outside of Japan it is mainly in the U.S. (about 200,000 speakers in the North American mainland, about 220,000 speakers in Hawaii) and South America (about 380,000 speakers, mainly in Brazil). This is mainly due to three major waves of emigration from the end of the 19th Century to the mid-20th Century due.
It is estimated that approximately 4.9% of all websites are in Japanese (4th place behind English, German and French). Despite this high proportion of speakers is one of Japanese do not as a world language, since the 127 million speakers almost without exception, are native speakers (Compare German native speakers: 105 million, second language but up to 80 million), the Japanese language has thus relative to the other world languages a few second language and remains localized to Japan.
The origin and classification of the Japanese language is still disputed among researchers. generally accepted is only the relationship between the spoken Japanese and the Ryukyu Islands Ryukyu languages. They are classified by many linguists as dialects of Japanese. A genetic relationship between Japanese and Koguryo Although recent studies of Ch Beckwith very likely, but needs further basic research.
The first problem is that the oldest surviving Japanese writing testimony, the Kojiki, the first from the 8th Century after Christ comes, that is about the time of the earliest written documents Altaic (Orkhon runes, Khitan script). All knowledge about the Japanese language history before that date are therefore linguistic reconstructions or transfers from archaeological or genetic studies.
The second problem is that although the Japanese phonetic, morphological and syntactic striking similarities to the Korean and the Altaic languages has (only the nordtungusischen languages behave syntactically different) is. This Old Japanese, however, has the field of phonetics and morphology in addition to the similarities (including the Old Turkish as the most westerly and earliest inscriptions occupied Altaic language) also features. While this leaves some linguists doubt the principle of genetic relatedness. However, by most Altaizisten the Korean and Japanese language than previous spin-offs from a common proto-language (Macro-Altaic) seen as the subsequent fragmentation of the Altai in the Turkic, Mongolian and Tungus languages. All these languages have the most important common feature that they are agglutinative languages.
Genetically, the Japanese are the descendants of two different groups who immigrated both at different times over the Korean peninsula to Japan, the Jomon people from the Jomon period from about the 10th Millennium BC and the Yayoi people from the Yayoi period from about the 9th Century BC. Both groups have genetically and probably mixed and linguistically.
On the language of the Jomon people, there is no hard evidence, as neither written documents nor speakers are completely preserved and it is unclear which elements of this language have been preserved in modern Japan, the Ryukyu languages or the Ainu language. Proposed theories link this language among others, the Ainu language, but also with Austronesian languages here.
The Yayoi language is better established, in a study, Riley (2003) Proto-Japanese and the language of the historical reconstruction of Goguryeo Korean government and establish a relationship. One hypothesis now states that the languages of the countries were at that time politically allied with Japanese Korean Baekje and Gaya states even closer relationship, but are not yet sufficient evidence to present.
The break between Japanese and Korean was then later than the 7th Century after Christ instead, when the Korean government Silla the other kingdoms on the peninsula defeated and thus asserted his language while began to develop in Japan in the Asuka period a distinct culture.
By today’s political differences between Japan and the two Koreas North Korea and South Korea is the question of the relationship between the two languages, however, not only linguistic, but also a political issue, which is why Japanese and Korean sources are colored in the topic often.
The Ainu language of the same indigenous people of Hokkaido, however, is neither the Japanese nor related to any other known language and is therefore expected with other isolated languages of the region to the Paleo-Siberian languages.
Some hypotheses arrange the Japanese language because of superficial similarities to other language families, the phonetics of modern Japanese is similar to the Austronesian languages (see, eg, Murayama in 1976 and Benedict 1990), while the morphosyntax also shows similarities with Dravidian languages. Both hypotheses are not however supported by human genetic or cultural-historical documents. Also as of date is the classification of the Japanese as a language isolate.