Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In English:

  • a burglar is usually associated with someone who breaks into a house (victim is usually unaware during the burglary)

  • a robber is usually associated with that person who uses weapons and threatens you to give him your property (victim-aware of course)

  • a mugger is usually associated with a robber on the street (victim-aware)

  • a thief is usually one who sneakily steals things without resorting to violence (victim-unaware)

  • a pickpocket is usually associated with a thief on the street (victim-unaware)

So what exactly is the exact nuance of a 泥棒? perhaps most likely there isn't a 1-to-1 match so probably could someone write an explanation of 泥棒 without using words like robber/mugger/thief/pickpocket/burglar etc

Side question: if we change 泥棒 to the hiragana form どろぼう, does it affect the nuance in any way?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

In this particular case, I can see quite straghtforward correspondence between English and Japanese. But 泥棒 is also the cover term that can be used to widely refer to all of these.

  • 空き巣 'burglar'
  • 強盗 'robber'
  • 泥棒 'mugger'
  • 盗人 'thief'
  • スリ 'pickpocket'
  • ハンバーグラー 'Hamburglar'

Writing it in hiragana does not change the nuance.

There is a stereotypical image for 泥棒: http://www.google.com/search?q=%E6%B3%A5%E6%A3%92&tbm=isch&biw=1272&bih=1055

share|improve this answer
2  
+1 for Hamburglar! LOL –  istrasci Jul 26 '11 at 21:30
    
Yes, I like the reference to 泥棒 being the general term. I have been warned not to take persimmons from trees even though NO ONE will eat them otherwise they would call me 柿泥棒 (かきどろぼう) –  Gerard Sexton Jul 27 '11 at 14:22
    
@Gerard 柿泥棒 was common among children in earlier days. They are usually grown for actually eating. –  user458 Jul 27 '11 at 15:27

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.