The Japanese Language, the national language of Japan, is spoken by about 125 million native speakers. It is one of the major languages in the world, and indeed is the 9th largest language, following Mandarin, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian and Bengali, in terms of population of native speakers.
Japanese, in linguistic typology, is categorized as an agglutinating language. It has topic-comment structure and its word order is normally subject-object-verb (SVO) with particles marking the grammatical function of words. Phonologically, Japanese is a mora-timed language with a pitch accent. It uses a mixture of different types of characters, namely Chinese characters (Kanji), two syllabic scripts (Hiragana and Katakana) and Roman letters in its writing system. It can be written either vertically or horizontally.
Japanese has extensive varieties of regional dialect from district to district in a relatively small country; some are too far departed from the standard Japanese to be easily understood by those who are not familiar with them. There are also pronounced differences in words and expressions according to the speaker’s age, sex, occupation, and so on. It also has a complicated system of honorific expressions (Keigo).
International interest in the Japanese language has become prevalent since Japan came to have a great influence on the world’s economy in the 1980s. In late years, following the global popularity of Japanese popular culture such as comics, anime, video games, and J-POP, the number of learners of Japanese with an interest in those areas is increasing remarkably. In 2012, approximately 4 million people studied Japanese worldwide, and more than 120,000 foreign students studied at universities and language schools in Japan.