Difference Between Chinese and Japanese Language

Chinese vs Japanese Language

Because of the proximity of the two cultures and their coexisting natures, the Chinese and the Japanese languages have quite a few similarities. However, over the years, Chinese and Japanese languages have evolved greatly to showcase great differences, which in turn have made the two distinctly unique. While the similarities with regards to certain words in pronunciation and written may be quite similar, there are many other differences between the two languages that set them apart.

Chinese Language

Chinese is the language mainly spoken by the people living in China, and this has several varieties or dialects that are spoken within the mainland of China itself. Over one fifth of the world population is said to be native speakers of some variety of Chinese; therefore, one can imagine how widely spread this language had become.

There are 7 and 13 main regional groups of the Chinese language of which about 850 million speaks mandarin, about 90 million speaks Wu, and 70 million speaks Cantonese followed by 50 million of people who speak Min. These languages are considered to be extremely hard to understand and at some points, hardly intelligible.

The standard Chinese based on the Beijing dialect derived out of Mandarin Chinese is known to be the official language of the People’s Republic of China. It is also one of the four main languages spoken in Singapore and also one of the six official languages of the United Nations, as well. This is also the language that is utilised in government agencies, in the media, and as a language of instruction in schools while the government of China encourages Chinese speakers of all Chinese varieties to utilise this language as a common medium of communication. In Hong Kong too, Mandarin has begun making its linguistic mark among English and Cantonese, its other official languages.

Traditional, standard Chinese is more commonly used for writing purposes, whereas other dialects are the ones that are utilized for communicating verbally.

Japanese Language

Spoken by about 125 million speakers primarily in Japan, Japanese is an eastern language that is a member of the Japonic language family. While the exact dates of the formation of the Japanese language is still unknown, a few Japanese characters have appeared in Chinese writing during the 3rd century while it was during the Heian period (794–1185) that the Chinese had had a considerable influence on the vocabulary and phonology of Old Japanese and which was later on changed during 1185–1600, to resemble the modern Japanese utilized today.

The Japanese language consists of simple phonotactics, a phonemic consonant and vowel length, pure vowel system, a pitch-accent that is lexically significant and is an agglutinative, mora-timed language. Dozens of Japanese dialects are spoken in Japan varying in terms of many factors, but the most distinct differences in Japanese accents can be seen between Tokyo-type and Kyoto-Osaka-type. Japanese word order is classified as subject–object–verb where the verb must be placed at the end of a sentence unlike in many Indo-European languages. The modern Japanese writing system, known to be one of the most complex writing systems of the world, consist of three scripts.

Kanji – Characters adopted from Chinese that forms the stems of most verbs and adjectives

Hiragana – used alongside kanji for grammatical elements and to write native Japanese words

Katakana – sometimes replaces hiragana or kanji for emphasis to write foreign words and names, plant and animal names and to represent onomatopoeia

What is the difference between Chinese and Japanese Languages?

• Since the Japanese language was originally derived from Chinese, Chinese language is the older of the two.

• Japanese pronunciation is easier than Chinese pronunciation.

• In Japanese, the characters originally borrowed from the Chinese language are called Kanji. The Chinese word for these characters is Hanzi. Each character allows multiple pronunciations in both languages.

• The Chinese language has more speakers worldwide than Japanese speakers.

• While the Japanese language is originally derived from Chinese, they have very distinct qualities both in writing and spoken which sets them apart from one another.

  • Dustin Brantley

    What proof do you have that “the Japanese language was originally derived from Chinese”. This is surely wrong as all research shows that it is a result of an ancient form of korean (in the same family as perhaps Turkish) and maybe a mix of even older inhabitants of the islands such as the modern day Ainu.

  • hardyharhar1603

    The author clearly copied from multiple sources without citation and actually comprehending the sources. What makes the author think a subject-object-verb multisyllabic language like Japanese can be derived from a subject-verb-object monosyllabic, tonal language like Chinese? This piece needs to be corrected.