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Everywhere I look, they both just seem to be defined as "special" or "particularly/especially" (in the adverbial case).

I'm trying to form a distinction in my head.

Here's an example from my dictionary for 特別:

今日は 特別に あつらえた服を着ます (Today I'll wear specially-ordered clothes)

Why can't it be

今日は 特に あつらえた服を着ます

Or another case (from JED):

今朝は 特に 寒い (today it's especially cold)

Maybe someone can provide examples for me where they can't be interchanged - or examples that emphasize the difference. I would be greatly appreciative.

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I think 特に is mainly used in declarative sentences to show the speaker's attitude. You can replace it with a separate sentence like "That's unusual/uncommon". 特別に is just the manner of action. – Yang Muye Jun 1 '14 at 10:51
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think you have hidden an answer in plain sight.

The example sentences you give translate 特別に as "specially" and 特に as "especially". As far as I can tell, this is exactly how you would use them in English and Japanese.

"specially" means something like "in a distinguished manner, for a particular purpose".

"especially" means something like "outstanding, noteworthy, exceptional".

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Hahahaha Thanks. Yes after consulting a Japanese friend, she explained that 特別に is more specific/exceptional. Which, I guess, makes sense given the 別 kanji. 特別 is like this one as opposed to all the others. where as 特 is just an emphasis, but is not necessarily exclusive. – rewolf Jun 1 '14 at 13:36

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