Language of the Week: Japanese

As it was the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, we have chosen Japanese as our Language of the Week.

First and foremost, our thoughts and good wishes go to Jules Bianchi for his full recovery following his crash on Sunday at Suzuka.

Though in many respects I’m a complete petrol head, I have never found Grand Prix very interesting to watch, lap after lap, rarely exciting in my book.  However, when I started to research the history of the Japanese Grand Prix, I found some interesting facts:

Surprisingly it is the only circuit that crosses over itself in a figure of eight and therefore runs both clockwise and anti-clockwise.

The fastest lap ever recorded at the Suzuka circuit is 1:30.54 minutes and was set by Kimi Räikkönen in 2005.  To put this into perspective, since the track is 3.387 miles long, if a Cheetah could run at its fastest for further than 1500ft, it would take it approximately 2.7mins!

When looking to learn Japanese it can appear very daunting because of the characters. However, it is one of those languages which is much easier to speak than write.  Unlike the majority of languages, nouns do not have genders and there is also no differentiation between singular and plural. Personally, we love both these facts. There are also no pronunciation or tones.

Here are a few fun facts about Japan:

  • JapaneseJapan’s trains are among the most punctual in the world, their average delay is just 18 seconds. (What we’d give for that on a rainy Monday in London!)
  • Japanese farmers are growing square watermelons, because they are easier to stack and store. (Now that is thinking outside the box! Or is that inside?)
  • In Japan there is a cat café where you can and go drink coffee whilst hanging out with cats for hours (Is that a new kind of speed dating opportunity?)
  • This one has to be one of our favourites – sleeping on the job is acceptable as it’s a sign of exhaustion from working hard. (Sweet dreams!)
  • In Japan there is no Ronald McDonald!! But panic not Big Mac fans, he’s called Donald McDonald due to the lack of a clear “R” sound in Japanese.
  • There is an island in Japan called Ōkunoshima or Rabbit Island, since numerous feral rabbits run wild, though apparently they are quite tame!

The challenge for you all this week is another tongue twister:

Niwa no niwa ni wa, niwa no niwatori wa niwaka ni wani wo tabeta

Which means: In (Mr) Niwa’s garden, two chickens suddenly ate a crocodile.

So let’s see your best efforts! Send us your videos on Twitter to @EuroTalk using #itsJapaneasy or send them to us on Facebook – our favourite will win a free uTalk Premium in a language of your choice. Get twisting!

Are you learning Japanese? Or do you have any favourite facts about the language or the country? Let us know in the comments!



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