Similar to German and somewhat like English, Japanese is "agglutinative" meaning one can create words by joining words and word particles together. Different from Western tongues (and from many in Asia as well), Japanese pays much attention to the status of the speaker vis-à-vis the person being addressed and the person being discussed. Special terms, word changes and even grammatical inflections (collectively called “honorifics”) are used to alter the intentions of the speaker in terms of this status. For example, “-san,” is a status-neutral suffix for an adult (meaning roughly “Mr.” or “Mrs.”), whereas “-chan” is a status-neutral suffix for children in general.
Unlike Chinese, Japanese uses no tones to make distinctions between syllables. Like English, pitch and accent are used for syntactical meaning (such as asking a question rather than making a statement).
Japanese has borrowed vocabulary extensively from all over the world. For centuries it has adopted many words from Chinese. In the 1500’s the Portuguese arrived in Asia contributing words like “tempura” (from “tempero”) and “arigato” (from “obrigado”). The commercial presence of the Germans and the Dutch in the 17th century caused many more foreign words to come into use. English also had its influences in the 19th century, with the imperial expansion of Britain, and also in the post-war 20th century, with American-style industrialization.