|Pronunciation:||[/ni.ho.ɴ.go/, [nihõ̞ŋgo̞], [nihõ̞ŋŋo̞]]|
|Country:||Japan, USA, Brazil, Peru|
|Writing system:||Japanese writing system|
The autonym 'Nihongo[nihõ̞ŋgo̞]' is the Japanese pronunciation of the compound word 日本語 which consists of two parts; 日本 (nihon; Japan) and 語 (go; language). The former part, 日本, means "sun-origin" and dates back to the Japanese missions to Imperial China in medieval time who referred to Japan in this way because of her eastward position relative to China.
The internationally acknowledged name Japanese derives from Mandarin or possibly Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan, Cipangu, mentioned in a work of Marco Polo.
Japanese is spoken nearly exclusively inside of Japan.
The number of native speakers is estimated at 126,000,000. The most of them are concentrated in Japan (124 million).
Relatively large communities of Japanese expatriates exist in the USA (0.8 million), Brazil (0.38 million), Peru (0.1 million), Canada (43,000), Mexico (35,000), Argentine (32,000) as well as in Germany (21,000) and Singapore (20,000) et al.
The number of second language speaker of Japanese is relatively small. Its largest groups are the Korean minority in Japan (0.6 million) on the one hand, and the inhabitants of the Ryukyu Islands, the southernmost part of the Japanese archipelago, whose native language is a Ryukyuan language on the other hand.
Japanese is normally split up into Eastern and Western Japanese, which can in turn be further divided into subcategories.