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The written language of Japan is a combination of Chinese derived ideograms (Kanji) and phonetic syllabary. Although it uses Chinese ideographs in its writing, Japanese does not bear any linguistic relation to Chinese, apart from using Chinese pronunciations and ideographs. The Japanese people can neither speak nor understand Chinese unless they have studied it. In other words, Chinese and Japanese are completely different languages.

Generally, it is agreed that the sentence structure and grammar of Japanese is part of the Ural-Altaic languages. It is a group that extends across northcentral Asia, reaching into eastern Europe (Korean, Mongol, Turkish, Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian).

There are three different writing systems: Kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana, and Katakana. Hiragana is usually used for grammatical endings of verbs, nouns, adjectives, and particles, as well as other original Japanese words, which are not written in Kanji. On the other hand, Katakana is used for writing loan words and the names of people and geographical places that cannot be written in Kanji. Texts can be written in two ways: horizontally from the top to the bottom, or vertically starting in the upper right corner and proceeding to the left. The latter is the traditional and still commonly used way, which books are written.

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