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The language spoken in Japan is Japanese.

hirashin

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Hello, those who are familiar with English grammar.

(a) I'm Japanese.
(b) The language spoken in Japan is Japanese.
In (a) the term "Japanese" is an adjective.
How about in (b)? I suppose that the word "Japanese" is a noun.

Thanks in advance.
Hirashin
 

OoTmaster

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Those are both used as nouns. An adjective is used to modify a noun. For example, "I am a Japanese person" would be using "Japanese" as an adjective because it modifies the noun "person".
 

hirashin

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OoMaster, "Japanese" in (a) IS an adjective. It is easier to judge it in "I'm British". "British" cannot be a noun. OK?
 

OoTmaster

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For it to be an adjective it has to modify a noun. I guess it depends on if the British and Japanese in those sentences are understood to modify the unspoken noun "person" or if the "person" is inclusive in the word itself. I would argue since it's obvious from context that "I" is not the Japanese language that the unspoken "person" is included in the word "Japanese". Any other native speakers have an opinion on this?
 
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Japanese is an adjective in (a) and a noun in (b).
If Japanese were a noun for (a) you would instead have,
(a') I am a Japanese.
(For adjective use vs. noun use, compare to: 'It is red.', 'It is fast.', 'It is a car.', 'It is a rock.' ; it has to be this way.)


This is (a') is grammatically correct but sounds strange for some reason. I don't know why exactly since 'I am an Italian' sounds fine to me and it's the exact same principle. 'I am a British' sounds worse than strange, it sounds flat out wrong, though again it follows the same principle.

In any case, for all nationalities (that I can think of) the adjectival use is the most normal, as in (a) not (a').

For almost all languages, they are named with a noun that looks like an adjective that describes that nationality: English, French, Japanese, Italian, Swedish, Russian. (This is obviously derived from shortening the adjectival use in phrases like 'the English language', but they just stand on their own as nouns now.)

There are some odd exceptions for artificial languages (Esperanto) and languages from areas where multiple languages compete (Hindi).
 

johnnyG

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hirashin--I'm a little surprised you're asking about this.

(a) I'm Japanese.
(b) The language spoken in Japan is Japanese.
In (a) the term "Japanese" is an adjective.
How about in (b)? I suppose that the word "Japanese" is a noun.

(a) is an adjective (a predicate adjective, to be technical), analogous to something like "happy" or "cold" > to be happy/cold..., to be Japanese. These show attributes, and they still modify the noun (show an attribute), in this case the subject of the example sentence, "I".

In (b) Japanese is a noun (tho if you rephrased it as "The Japanese language is spoken in Japan," it would be an adjective).

**
There are also nominalized adjectives, when the modified noun is elided (missing). "They will help the American students, and we'll help the Japanese," where the underlying form is understood to be "...we'll help the Japanese students."
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, everyone.
A Japanese student asked me how you can say "Japanese" in (b) is a noun, not an adjective. That's why I asked this here.
 

MjwWorkshop

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"I am Japanese."

Japanese is being used as a descriptive property. That makes it an adjective.

If we also defined "Japanese" as a person with that descriptive property, it could be used as a noun, but we would use the word "a" before it.

Adjective: I'm Japanese.
Noun: I'm a Japanese. (Although this is rare for the word Japanese, other demonyms like "American" are used as nouns more often)
 
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