Welcome to the Self-Access Centre materials database

The SAC is here to pro­vide you with op­por­tu­ni­ties to study Japan­ese out­side class time. If you need ad­vice and guid­ance on what to study, you should talk to your class tu­tor, who will help you iden­tify your strengths and weak­nesses and make rec­om­men­da­tions on what to study.

A bit about the language

Japan­ese is a lan­guage spo­ken by over 130 mil­lion peo­ple in Japan and in Japan­ese em­i­grant com­mu­ni­ties. It is a mem­ber of the Japonic lan­guage fam­ily. There are a num­ber of pro­posed re­la­tion­ships with other lan­guages, but none of them has gained unan­i­mous ac­cep­tance. Japan­ese is dis­tin­guished by a com­plex sys­tem of ho­n­ou­rifics re­flect­ing the hi­er­ar­chi­cal na­ture of Japan­ese so­ci­ety, with verb forms and par­tic­u­lar vo­cab­u­lary to in­di­cate the rel­a­tive sta­tus of the speaker, the lis­tener, and per­sons men­tioned in con­ver­sa­tion. The lan­guage has a rel­a­tively small sound in­ven­tory, and a lex­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant pitch-ac­cent sys­tem.

The Japan­ese lan­guage is writ­ten with a com­bi­na­tion of three scripts: Chi­nese char­ac­ters called kanji , and two syl­labic scripts made up of mod­i­fied Chi­nese char­ac­ters, hiragana and katakana . The Latin al­pha­bet, rōmaji, is also of­ten used in mod­ern Japan­ese, es­pe­cially for com­pany names and lo­gos, ad­ver­tis­ing, and when en­ter­ing Japan­ese text into a com­puter. Ara­bic nu­mer­als are gen­er­ally used for num­bers, but tra­di­tional Sino-Japan­ese nu­mer­als are also com­mon­place. Japan­ese vo­cab­u­lary has been heav­ily in­flu­enced by loan­words from other lan­guages. A vast num­ber of words were bor­rowed from Chi­nese, or cre­ated from Chi­nese mod­els, over a pe­riod of at least 1,500 years. Since the late 19th cen­tury, Japan­ese has bor­rowed a con­sid­er­able num­ber of words from Indo-Eu­ro­pean lan­guages, pri­mar­ily Eng­lish. Be­cause of the spe­cial trade re­la­tion­ship be­tween Japan and first Por­tu­gal in the 16th cen­tury, and then mainly the Nether­lands in the 17th cen­tury, Por­tuguese and Dutch have also been in­flu­en­tial.