Google translate says 日本語 means Japanese.

It also says:

  • 語 means "word"
  • 本 means "this"
  • 日 means "day"

So how do you get "Japanese" out of these three kanji?


2 Answers 2

  • 語 is the suffix which means 'language'. Unlike English which needs two different nouns for a country and its language, in Japanese, you can simply add 語 after the name of a country to mean the language spoken in that country. (e.g. ドイツ = Germany, ドイツ語 = German, フランス = France, フランス語 = French)
  • 日本 is one word made of two characters, meaning 'Japan'. Etymologically it can be further analyzed (日 (Sun) + 本 (origin) => the rising Sun), but no one cares about that in everyday life.
  • 2
    By the way, 本日, pronounced honjitsu, actually means 'this day', or 'today'.
    – naruto
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 3:18
  • 日 Can also mean "Sun"
  • 本 Can mean "Origin"
  • 語 Can mean "language"

If you look at the Japanese Flag ,you will notice there is a big red circle. That is a sun. The sun is a very important object in Japanese folklore. Another thing is that 日本語 refers to the Japanese language which we often just refer to as Japanese

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