Japonic languages

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Japonic languages are the language family made up of languages native to the Japanese islands. Known members of the language family are Japanese and Okinawan.

Both languages are agglutinative languages with a simple syllable structure and SOV word order. They have many similar features, but they are not mutually intelligible, which means native speakers of one language will not understand the other language without already knowing it.

While Japanese is the ninth most spoken language in the world,[1] Okinawan is critically endangered, which means there are very few speakers left. This was largely because of the Japanese government's assimilation of Okinawa into the mainland Japanese culture. During the Meiji Era, the Japanese government called the Okinawan language a dialect of Japanese. This was used to forbid Okinawans from speaking the Okinawan language and to force them to speak Japanese. In fact, Okinawans soldiers were executed for speaking Okinawan during World War II. The Japanese military would accuse these soldiers of being spies so they could have an excuse to execute them.

Both languages write using a combination of Chinese characters, called kanji in Japanese, and kana, a Japanese-made syllabic writing system made for writing phonetically. This was true even before the Japanese takeover.

References[change | change source]

  1. Babbel.com; GmbH, Lesson Nine. "What Are The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World?". Babbel Magazine. Retrieved 2019-07-20.