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Or does it mean both? If so, is there any way to explicitly distinguish between "I'm scared" and "I'm scary"?
If it only means one and not the other, how would you say the other?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

To give a few working examples:

私は猫が怖い
I'm scared of cats.

恵美子ちゃんは猫は平気みたいだけど、私は怖いらしい。
Emiko seems to be fine around cats, but apparently is scared of me.

僕は怖いよ。
I'm scary, just so you know.

That makes 私は怖い officially ambiguous and the answer to your question must be "both, depending on the context".

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Are there any special connotations to 怖い vs. 恐い in your opinion? –  Jens Jensen Apr 15 '13 at 9:12
2  
@小太郎 I'm scared => 怖い. I'm scary => 私が怖い. –  oldergod Apr 15 '13 at 9:28
    
@JensJensen That might work as a separate question. –  snailboat Apr 15 '13 at 10:09

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