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For example in this phrase:

話すネタはもっていそう

I translate it into "he might have some stories", but I have the impression it has many other meanings.

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For basic translation and examples use a dictionary: csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1Q%A4%CD%A4%BF_1_ and click on the small [Ex] link for the first result. –  repecmps Jun 29 '11 at 4:53
    
I understand that the contents of the question seems a bit basic, but I was expecting a bit more discussion regarding this word. There are a couple of good answers already pretty much what I was hoping for. –  wallyqs Jun 29 '11 at 5:23
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Check out the definitions and examples on this page, too. (<3 jeKai) –  Amanda S Jun 30 '11 at 3:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

ネタ is a semi-slang term that comes from reversing the characters of "seed" タネ. It's a word with many uses, but in all uses it denotes the "seed" of the idea of a work, it's essential core.

In cooking, the ネタ of a dish is the key ingredient that makes a particular dish interesting. For example, the ネタ of a piece of sushi is the non-rice part of the sushi.

In a magic trick, the ネタ of a trick is the actual trickery that makes the illusion work (the part that Penn and Teller reveal).

In a joke, the ネタ is the core subject and punchline, before you pad them out with a story.

In news articles, the ネタ is the raw fact being reported (e.g. "oil rig explodes") before being fleshed out with prose.

In your example of 「話すネタ」, ネタ means topic of conversation.

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+1 for the elaborate examples :) –  Lukman Jun 29 '11 at 9:25
    
Thanks for the elaborate list of explanations. I found that Wikipedia has good explanations supporting your answer: ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%8D%E3%82%BF Furthermore, it seems that ネタバレ can be translated as spoiler, literally "revealing the core subject": ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%8D%E3%82%BF%E3%83%90%E3%83%AC –  wallyqs Jun 30 '11 at 2:15
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@SuperElectric, @Axioplase In case of magic tricks, it's rather used without reversing as (tane) or 種明かし (taneakasi) 'revealing the trick'. –  sawa Jul 10 '11 at 17:51
    
@sawa I would say that both ネタ and 種 are used for magic. ネタ: dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/170158/m0uネタ/ With 種, we get the standard magician's "disclaimer": 種も仕掛けもございません. –  SuperElectric Jul 10 '11 at 18:16

ネタ alone is a bit vague: "stories", but usually in the sense of jokes or funny anecdotes. I'd say it has some connotation of "dirty" (or at least slightly off-colour) jokes/anecdotes, but that's more a matter of usage than intrinsic meaning.

ネタ is most often encountered in these two expressions:

  • 下ネタ【しもねた】(or 下のネタ): lit. "jokes about down below", i.e. "dirty jokes"

  • ネタばれ: "spoilers"...

You can probably encounter it in other expressions, where it carries the meaning of "joke". E.g.:

いい加減パンツネタはやめとけよな → Quit with the panty jokes!

In your example, I would translate it by "He seems to have some funny stories" or "good stories" etc.

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ネタ can also be a magic trick. –  Axioplase Jun 29 '11 at 5:12

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