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I came across the construction ~なり~なり (meaning either... or...) on JGram and I saw this example:

ジュースなりコーラなり、お好きなものをどうぞ
juice.. cola.. have whatever you like

That made me wonder what the difference is in this case if か is used instead:

ジュースかコーラか、お好きなものをどうぞ

Is it maybe a difference of register? Or does it have a different meaning?

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Thinking of the ~なり pairs as "be it ... or ..." might come close in meaning, even literally =) –  Ancurio Apr 8 at 22:35

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The first sentence 「ジュースなりコーラなり、お[好]{す}きなものをどうぞ。」 is perfectly natural. It is asking you to choose whatever you want to drink and "juice" and "cola" are only two examples of what is available. Point is you have other choices as well.

The second sentence is different. By using 「か」, the speaker is giving the addressee two choices only --- "juice" and "cola". For this reason, the sentence is NOT very natural with the word choice of 「もの」. To use 「お好きなもの」, one needs to have at least three choices. Thus, the 「もの」 needs to be replaced by 「[方]{ほう}」. 「お好きな方」 means "the one you prefer among the two".

「ジュースかコーラか、お好きな方をどうぞ。」

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So 〜なり〜なり == 〜や〜や? –  Kaji Apr 8 at 18:01
    
What about 〜なり〜なり = 〜とか〜とか? –  無色受想行識 Apr 9 at 19:37

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