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I'd like to get an idea of when it is appropriate to use different expressions for expressing disjunction (of the inclusive AND exclusive variety).

「AとBとCの中で...」、「どちら」、and 「か] come to mind, but I think they have situational usage (that I'm not entirely aware of). 「か」seems somewhat awkward, 「どちら」is limited to a decision between two things, and so forth. How would an inclusive or be expressed ('A or B' as opposed to 'either A or B')?

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1  
Welcome to JLU! This is a good fundamental question. I'm surprised no one asked this here before >___< –  Lukman Sep 23 '11 at 13:38
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Your AとBの中で is not completely grammatical. 中で is used for more than two alternatives. –  sawa Sep 23 '11 at 15:49
    
Ah sorry, thanks for the tip! –  Dylan Lukes Sep 23 '11 at 16:46
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Natural languages usually have exclusive disjunction. In order to express inclusive disjunction, you usually have to add some materials to exclusive disjunction.

  • Exclusive disjunction between two things

    A か B (の({うち/間}の)どちらか(一つ/一方))
    'between A or B'

  • Exclusive disjunction among more than two things

    A か B, (か) C (の({うち/間/中}の)どれか(一つ))
    'among A, B, or C'

  • Inclusive disjunction between two things

    A か B の({うち/間}の)少なくとも{一つ/一方}
    'A and/or B'

  • Inclusive disjunction among more than two things

    A か B, (か) C の({うち/間/中}の)少なくとも一つ
    'A, B, and/or C'


Since the OP seems to be having trouble with the notation, I will expand the first one so that there is no parentheses and braces:

  • Exclusive disjunction between two things

    A か B
    A か B のどちらか
    A か B のどちらか一つ
    A か B のどちらか一方
    A か B のうちのどちらか
    A か B の間のどちらか
    A か B のうちのどちらか一つ
    A か B のうちのどちらか一方
    A か B の間のどちらか一つ
    A か B の間のどちらか一方

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I'm having a bit of trouble understanding your use of parentheses and braces. Could you explain briefly ^^;? –  Dylan Lukes Sep 23 '11 at 16:47
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@DylanLukes Parentheses mean optional. For example, A(B)C means ABC and AC are possible. A(B(C)D)E means ABCDE, ABDE, AE are possible. Braces with slash mean alternatives. For example, A{B/C}D means ABD and ACD are possible. This is a commonly accepted notation. –  sawa Sep 23 '11 at 16:49
    
Thank you, I wasn't aware of it before. :) –  Dylan Lukes Sep 23 '11 at 16:56
    
Also, is か always appropriate? Could these all be used both in spoken and written language? Is there a more appropriate form for formal situations?... etc. –  Dylan Lukes Sep 23 '11 at 17:41
    
@DlyanLukes They are fine. If you want to be more formal, there is または, もしくは, あるいは as istrasci suggests. But I feel the latter two are only used for exclusive disjunctions. –  sawa Sep 23 '11 at 17:55
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There are a couple more examples for exclusive that I can think of:

  • AそしてまたB
  • AまたはB
  • AそれともB
  • A或【ある】いはB
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How did you do the furigana? Is this a new feature? –  Karl Knechtel Sep 23 '11 at 19:58
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@KarlKnechtel Add {furigana} after the kanji, e.g. 漢字.{かんじ} (without the dot). –  Lukman Sep 24 '11 at 1:51
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That's not how I did it. I just put that hiragana inside these thick brackets, like 【あいうえお】. Speaking of which, is there any way to turn this feature off? I hate furigana. –  istrasci Sep 24 '11 at 15:31
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