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Taking 2 sentences from WWWJDIC as examples:

  1. 見てごらん。2人の男の子がけんかしている。

  2. 議論は最後に喧嘩になった。

I was wondering is it true that the 「喧嘩」 in the sentences above may be interpreted both ways (i.e. it may be a physical fight, but it could as well have been a quarrel (verbal fight) instead)?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

There’s actually a wikipedia article on けんか! http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%96%A7%E5%98%A9

It does mention both verbal (口喧嘩) and physical (殴り合い喧嘩、刀剣など) fights. It seems the original meaning was something like “a noisy ruckus”, from which the present uses developed. (Kangorin says the same.)

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Ok so just to confirm, you are saying the first sentence could mean "the two boys are quarreling" and "the two boys are fighting". and the second sentence could mean "the discussion resulted in a quarrel" and "the discussion resulted in a fight" right? – Pacerier Sep 29 '11 at 3:08
I agree with Leonardo, the specific meaning should be indicated from context – StevenWung Sep 29 '11 at 10:37
I’m not a native but I think so, yes. In actual use either there would be more context or they’d choose different wording. That’s kind of the problem with sample sentences, in my opinion (people don’t talk or write in isolated sample sentences). – leoboiko Sep 29 '11 at 13:04

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