Is it right to use 'the' before a language like 'the Japanese', 'the Hindi', etc.?

  • too late in my time zone to do the research to write an answer, but I've never read "translating from the English we find that....." or "translating from the German we find that" but I have read "translating from the [obscure or now-little-spoken language] we find that..." for languages such as Inuktitut or even [classical] Greek. I think this probably was a habit of academics which has now fallen out of favor. Advice: don't use the "the" before a language unless you are writing for a publication which does.
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 6:30
  • We normally say 'I speak Japanese' 'He is a teacher of Hindi',. As others have indicated, sometimes we use 'the' when referring to a particular text in a foreign language - 'I have read The Three Musketeers in the original French'. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 8:29
  • As the linked answer already explains but no one mentioned here yet, it isn't wrong but it changes the meaning. The Japanese are a people, whether reckoned by ethnicity or nationality. Japanese is a language. Anime is generally translated from Japanese to English for the American market. Documents are translated from the Japanese, which refers by ellipsis/metonymy to "the original Japanese text".
    – lly
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


Only if qualified with "language" or for this to be implicitely inferable. Otherwise the meaning is obscure (japanese people/language/?)

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