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Several years back, I learned from a free Japanese podcast that referring to something with 'sonnano' or 'annano' is a way of looking down on it / speaking of it as an undesirable thing. There have been times when I've heard these terms used in sentences that sounded like the speaker was talking about something they found distasteful, but other times when it seemed the speaker had no real personal opinion on the subject.

Are these terms used to speak of undesirable things every time they are used? Are there other phrases similar that are used for the same purpose?

Thanks so much in advance for your time and help with my question! *^_^*

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3 Answers 3

「そんなの」etc. is used in the way that you described. It is not very respectful towards whatever you are referring to or the audience. Usually you will be considerate of who the audience is. For example, I would only use this when talking to my close 'buddies' or family but would never use this in a work setting or speaking to someone I am not close to.

I do want to note that そんなのcan be broken down into そんな の.

そんな, still informal but not necessarily used in situations where you are speaking of an undesirable thing or talking down. E.g. そんな訳で... So in this situation you probably won't use this type of speech in a formal setting or to people that are 目上.

そのような, more formal and used in any situation.

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user224579 already gave great answer but I will just add some notes on using these phrases.

そんなの etc. are not particularly disrespectful, these words can be used very nicely to add some emotional colouring to the phrase. After all one should not be afraid to speak about something with less respect as Japanese language provides large amount of tools to add "opinion" to a phrase, just be aware about consequences.

For example:

  1. Showing lack of respect:

    • マックを食べる? - will you eat mcdonalds?
    • そんなの食べない。 - I don't eat stuff like that. (looking down at this type of food)
  2. Being playful:

    • //何とか//知ってる? - Do you know about //something// ... ?
    • そんなのしらない。 - I have no idea ;) (quite playful, especially if used by girls)

Also, very similar construct is そんな ... の where you put a word instead of ... which you want to emphasise.

For example:

Expressing amazement: - あんな大きいの今まで見た事ない! - I've never seen such large (something) before!

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そんなの and あんなの are demonstrative phrases that are often used when talking about something with less interest. however, these are not alwas used since japanese people care about how the others look at you.

for example, if you have no interest in something, you may say そんなのどうでもいいよ。 this can be used in a conversation when you have no interest in what the other say. however, this may be disrespectful if you are talking to someone you are not so close with.

in these cases, japanese people use something called as 相槌を打つ(aizuchi wo utsu). this is, making yourself as if you have interest in the conversation. the useful phrases in this相槌を打つ are

そうだね なるほど うん すごいね

and more. Japanese people use these phrases in a combination to make themselves look like as if they are interested.

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