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Is simply more literary/archaic than ? Can only be applied to certain words whereas is more versatile?

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And how about 幾何 【いくばく】? –  user3169 Aug 27 '13 at 0:37
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I have just spent a good 20 minutes trying to find out about this, and can't find anything that explicitly says that 幾 is less versatile than 何... but there seem to only be certain combinations in which 幾 is actually used, so my gut feeling is that you are correct in assuming that it is less versatile than 幾. Maybe it is an archaic form that only remains in some combinations? –  yu_ominae Aug 27 '13 at 23:47
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Elderly people tend to use 幾 more often (i.e., 何度も vs. 幾度も); but, that doesn't necessarily mean it is archaic :P –  execjosh Aug 28 '13 at 16:42
    
@yu_ominae If so, then you could say it is "no longer productive". In other words, it no longer combines to "produce" new words and phrases, but the old combinations are still around. (I don't know whether this is the case or not, I just wanted to introduce the term :-) –  snailboat Feb 21 at 8:23

2 Answers 2

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As far as the meaning, there is no difference. To say otherwise would be nitpicking.

The only (and important) difference is the way the words using 幾 and 何 as suffixes sound in our native-speaking ears. It is the classic "softer-sounding kun" vs. "sharper-sounding on" difference.

For instance, 幾重(いくえ) sounds much softer than 何重(なんじゅう) though these words mean exactly the same thing --- "multiple folds" or "how many folds". One would opt to use the former in a poem or story, but if one used it in a daily conversation, one would look like a weirdo.

One could say 何 is more versatile because that is what we use much more often in real life.

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I think they have just slightly different nuances. They are very similar; but, I think that 幾 has a more "specific" nuance (as in with relatively small numbers), whereas 何 has a more "broad" nuance (as in "to what extent" or "why").

For 何度, デジタル大辞泉 says:

1 どれほどの回数。また、多くの回数。何回。「―やってもできない」「―でも挑戦するつもりだ」

2 はっきりしない温度・角度などをさす。「気温は―ですか」

For 幾度, デジタル大辞泉 says:

1 どのくらいの回数。何度。いくたび。「―読んでもおもしろい」「―となく注意する」

2 (「いくどか」の形で)若干の回数。何回。いくたび。「―かお会いしたことがある」

3 (「いくども」の形で)度数の多いこと。たびたび。いくたび。「―も足を運んだ」

The entry for 幾 says:

1 比較的小さな数について問う語。いくつ。「幾何(きか)」

2 少しずつ。それとなく。「幾諫(きかん)」

3 (「機」と通用)細かいきざし。「幾微」

4 こいねがう。「庶幾」

And the entry for 日中 of 幾 is interesting, too:

疑問の代詞で,ほぼ1桁(けた)と予想される数を尋ねる

Maybe one could think of it as "how much" (何) vs. "how many" (幾)...

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Thank you for contributing, but I don't think anyone is upvoting this answer because people who could read this much Japanese explanation generally don't need a site like JLU. Instead of just copying and pasting from Japanese sources, this site generally looks for answers that contain English explanations written by users. –  Questioner Sep 29 '13 at 12:00
    
@DaveMG ぎくっ。。。。 –  Choko Oct 21 '13 at 3:34
    
@ちょこれーと: 「ぎく」って、「疑懼」? If you want to say something, it would be helpful if you could be more clear. –  Questioner Oct 21 '13 at 4:41
    
@DaveMG I think you are correct that this post was not well written. I need to edit it. I could be wrong; but, I think that Chocolate meant ギクッ in the sense of ぎくりとする. –  execjosh Feb 20 at 23:08

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