Translation:Welcome to Japan!
You can flip the sentence around and it still would be correct. Japanese can be flexible like that sometimes.
On the other lesson I put 日本へようこそ which is grammatically correct but actually ようこそ日本へ is more common way
へ is a particle which indicates the direction of an action, it's basically analogous to "to" here, but would more commonly get translated as "toward".
山へ行きます。 I'm headed in the direction of the mountain (My journey might lead me somewhere else.)
山に行きます。 I'm going to the mountain. (The mountain is my goal.)
It's hard to say exactly why へ seems to be preferred over に for the purpose of welcoming visitors to the country, but both are used.
It might seem weird that the sentence ends there, but ようこそ is just an interjection/adverb anyway, so it doesn't need to go at the end. If you prefer, 「日本へようこそ！」 is just as correct. There's no verb or adjective here to worry about putting at the end.
Good ear! I’m amazed the robot voice could do this. Think of it this way: Do we say “a apple?” There is a flap of skin over the trachea (your wind pipe) that keeps you from inhaling food. This is called the epiglottis. When you say the word “ugh” like you’ve just been hit in the stomach, you will hear the epiglottis slamming against the wind pipe in what we call a “glottal stop.” (Try it aloud!) A lot of languages don’t like the glottal stop, so we add an “n” to make “an apple” in English.
Now, normally, Japanese doesn’t mind the glottal stop so much. Take a listen to any pop song, and pay special attention to words with little っ. But taking syllable ん – this is called a “liquid consonant” because, like liquid flowing, you can draw this sound out forever – the ん in Japanese isn’t the hard “n” that we pronounce in English. It’s a lighter tongue flap to the roof of your mouth (and even sometimes resembles an “m” sound, with very little tongue flap at all.) To keep the glottal stop from occurring right before a vowel, you’ll hear a teeny teeny teeny miniscule bit of a “y” sound. I would recommend don’t deliberately try to do it; just be aware of it, and as you lose your 外国人 accent, it will become natural.
In a tangent story, but just an example of this: When the Jesuits came to Japan a few hundred years ago, and were writing Japanese down in the Roman alphabet (See? They were from Rome. That’s why it’s called ローマ字… I digress yet again…) They were trying to write down every word they heard. When it came to money and they asked what a coin was, the Japanese said, 一円（いちえん）. Because there were two vowels together (and no glottal stop), the Jesuits heard a “y” in there. They had already figured out the word for “one,” so they assumed the money was “yen.”
Whenever I start waxing poetic on geeky stuff like this, my students usually make a rainbow sign with their arms and say, “The more you know.” I will imagine that they are doing that now.
Really? I understood that Japanese previously had a 'ye' syllable. That's why, in the 19th century, Westerners wrote "yen", and also "Yedo" and "Yesso" for what we know write as "Tokyo" and "Hokkaido".
Yes, you are right! There were "ye" and "yi" sounds, but those pre-date the introduction of a written language by China. So there isn't any way to write them except with smaller かな。（for example, イェ）
After Chinese influence, and until about 75 years ago, there were "wi" and "we" syllables, too. Although the "w" hasn't been pronounced for centuries. You probably know that を used to have a "w" sound in front (and actually Duolingo Romanizes it with "wo,") but there were also ゐ ("wi") and ゑ("we") (Doesn't that look so cool?!) The "w" on the "wu" sound dropped out long before written language, also, so you will only see it as う.
Before you go thinking that sound change in a language is weird, here in English we had something called "The Great Vowel Movement." (snicker). So the cool thing is that languages change, or else we would all be speaking like Shakespeare. Also consider the word "Wednesday." How weird is that? Japan had a spelling reform right after WWII to unify written and spoken language; we in America only had Noah Webster making a couple of arbitrary decisions.
Since we are on the topic, also consider the は-line. Have you ever wondered why subject marker は and the direction marker へ are pronounced differently? Same reason! The line used to be pronounced differently. If you read anything classical, you will notice words like 会う being written as 会ふ. The "f" sound dropped out, and in the spelling reform every verb that ended with a ふ got changed to う. Every single one. Oh, sure, we still have verbs that end in ぶ, like まなぶ・あそぶ・ならぶ. But no more verbs that end in ふ.
Language is so fascinating! Sorry, I geeked out again, didn't I? Thanks for indulging me.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. I'm fascinated by the way languages evolve. Thanks so much for geeking out.
Happy to meet a fellow geek. :)
I think that understanding how languages evolve is part of learning the pattern recognition and making connections in your brain that will make language learning faster and easier.
It's kind of like how the particle を can be spoken as お. へ is often spoken as え.