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How are とても/とっても, でかい/でっかい, 超 (and others that I have yet to encounter) used differently? I figured that for とても/とっても-type difference is that the double-consonant(geminated) version is stronger i.e. a greater intensity and used colloquially.

I've also heard "でかい煩い". I presume でかい/でっかい is used with negative connotations? EDIT: (From the anime Aria the Animation, the character Alice frequently uses でかい as an intensifier in the ungrammatical way as in "でかい煩い". I now understand it as her 口癖)

How about 超 in "超安い" for "very cheap" (price of object)?

What would be the difference if I swap them around?

Are there other qualitative intensifiers that would be good to know? And what differences in nuance would there be?

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In addition to varying emphasis, とっても, is not usually written: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/808/versus –  Louis Jul 28 '11 at 3:35
    
I'd add でっか as well... –  Mark Hosang Jul 28 '11 at 4:54
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At the risk of angering the linguistic-phobics on JLU (but hey, after all, you started it ;-): the 'っ' in とっても does not indicate a glottal stop, but gemination. You are probably confusing it with the word-ending 'っ', which does indeed indicate a glottal stop. See this question for more details... –  Dave Jul 28 '11 at 6:00
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Although でっかい煩い (うるさい) is ungrammatical, as sawa says in a comment below, I've developed a tolerance for it after hearing the line from Alice many times.. Here's a list of "でっかい" quotes from Aria in various situations (most of them ungrammatical). –  ento Jul 28 '11 at 15:33
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

As you notice, the ones with gemination are colloquial versions, and do not have particular difference in meaning besides being unformal. However, if you use it together with a long vowel, that will further intensify the expression. For example, でーっかい will be very colloquial and stronger than でかい or でっかい.

  • 大変 'very' is used in formal contexts.
  • とても/とっても/ものすごい 'very' is an intensifier in the Tokyo dialect.
  • えらい/めちゃ/めっちゃ/めっさ/むちゃ/むっちゃ/ごっつい/ごっつ 'very' is the corresponding intensifier used in the Kansai dialects.
  • 真剣 'very' is the corresponding intensifier used in Shinshuu dialect.
  • でら 'very' is the corresponding intensifier used in Nagoya dialect.
  • めちゃくちゃ 'very' means the similar, is colloquial, and is not bound to a certain dialect.
  • すごい/すっごい/すんごい 'very' are all colloquial irrespective of the gemination.
  • 比較的 'rather' makes the expression mild.
  • ある程度 'to a certain degree' is also mild.
  • 少しだけ/少し/ちょっとだけ weakens the degree.

  • 超 'super' can be added to nouns or adjectives. Overusing it will sound colloquial. Especially, extensively using it used to be one characteristics of high-school girl's slangish way of speaking. For example, 超かわいい, 超むかつく, 超うける. An extreme example is 超タモリ.
  • 極 'ultra' can be added to nouns or adjectives or can be further added to .

  • でかい/でっかい means 'large'. It is not an intensifier. It has nothing to do with negative connotation.
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since でかい is not an intensifier, i suppose the following would be possible: "とてもでかい". And "でかい煩い" would be "large noise" instead of "very noisy"(which would be "とても煩い" instead). –  Flaw Jul 28 '11 at 4:01
    
@Flaw Since でかい is not an intensifier, とてもでかい is grammatical and でかい煩い is ungrammatical. –  sawa Jul 28 '11 at 4:05
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Don't know if you want to add 極 into your list. –  istrasci Jul 28 '11 at 4:18
    
If I remember correctly, "でかい" is not 標準語 but originally comes from 江戸弁 (which may explain why it became 共通語). Also, "大変" must be known. –  Axioplase Jul 28 '11 at 4:46
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@sawa: I meant that it's understood everywhere (共通語) in Japan, but that it is not "standard" (as in official enough to make it to the NHK news). But I'm not even sure whether 標準語 is officially defined, since there is no organism regulating the Japanese language afaik. –  Axioplase Jul 28 '11 at 6:07
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