During your Japanese language learning phase, you will come to know that somewhere in the 6th century AD, elements of Chinese culture flooded into Japan, a result of diplomatic and religious intercourse between the Chinese Han Dynasty, Korea, and the Japanese Yamato rulers. Along with the introduction of Chinese governmental systems, art styles, manufacturing methods, and Buddhism, the Chinese writing system was also adopted, providing the Japanese with the ability to write for the first time. The Kojiki, (Records of Ancient Matters), and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), Japan’s first books, both historical anthologies containing a large number of legends, were written in Chinese characters during this time. Numerous Chinese vocabulary words were also added to Japanese. The influence of the Chinese language on Japanese remains apparent today,approximately 40% of the vocabulary of modern Japanese consists of words adapted from Chinese. The serendipity of borrowed vocabulary did not, however, carry over to the borrowed Chinese written system. The Chinese writing system posed problems in terms of accent, syllabic structure and overall divergence of structure of the languages themselves. The Japanese desired the ability to express themselves freely in written form. By the 7th century writers were inserting Chinese characters into the written format of their own language, word order and participle structure. Soon thereafter, Buddhist priests developed a simplified phonetic system for writing shorthand, the foundation for the present-day katakana phonetic script. In the 8th century, women of the Heian Court in Kyoto developed the second phonetic script of Japanese, hiragana, in order to write poetry, novels, and diaries. Still today, both of these phonetic scripts are used in a modernized form, along with Chinese characters, or kanji, to render written Japanese. In general, katakana is used with loan words, onomatopoetic words, terms for flora and fauna, and for italicized words; hiragana is used in children’s writing and to represent function words. With the writing of the Heike Monogatari (Tales of the Heike) in the 12th century, the use of Chinese characters, kana phonetic script, and Japanese language structure had become completely intertwined. Japanese evolved in four stages: Old Japanese (to the 8th century), Late Old Japanese (9th-11th centuries), Middle Japanese (12th-16th centuries), and Modern Japanese (from the 17th century to the present). Significant changes from ancient to modern times have been the gradual reduction of eight vowel sounds to five as well as phonological, morphological, and vocabulary changes. However, the Japanese syntax has largely remained intact. Japanese language consists of several dialects Several distinct regional dialects have existed within Japan since ancient times. During the past 700 years, the primary, or most important dialect, has shifted from the Capital, Heian Kyo (Kyoto) to Kamakura (near present-day Tokyo) in 1292. This coincides with the rise to power of a warrior class which established its power base in the Kanto Region of Eastern Japan. Today the primary dialect of Japanese remains the Tokyo dialect.In the Sengoku (Warring States) Period of the 16th century, Portuguese and other Western nations came into contact with Japan, bringing technology, the Christian religion, and their own languages. The Portuguese compiled a Japanese dictionary, and the Japanese borrowed a number of words from Portuguese. One Japanese warrior, ToyotomiHideyoshi, also brought wooden moveable type from Korea into Japan at the very end this period; during the Tokugawa Period which followed, the printing that was made possible by means of this moveable type greatly expanded the literacy rate of the populace, and increased the stature of the Edo (Tokyo) Dialect as the primary dialect of Japanese. With the rise of Tokugawa Ieyasu as military ruler, or Shogun, in 1603, Japan was soon almost completely closed to all outside influence. Christianity, along with western learning and its linguistic influence, was abandoned (except for very limited contact with Dutch traders in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki). For the next two hundred and fifty years, Japan remained closed to the outside world. In 1868, following the turmoil that resulted within Japan from the visit of American Admiral Perry, Japan’s new Meiji leaders determined to Westernize Japan and to adopt Western technology for the sake of survival and competition. Soon, the vocabulary of English, German, and other western languages was introduced into Japanese. As with the introduction of Chinese centuries before, these words were soon adapted to the pronunciation and writing systems of the Japanese, so that they could more easily be used. Many new Japanese vocabulary terms were also created to express new concepts adopted from the West. Another major development of the Meiji Period was the bridging of the gap that had until then existed between spoken and written Japanese; developments within literature and media both broke conventional barriers, so that for the first time everyday spoken Japanese could be expressed in written form. You would surely become familiar with all such things about language.