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I just saw the word "goodbye" spelt as さよなら. Having clearly heard the long o sound before, I thought the word was misspelled. However, a quick online search shows both さよなら and さようなら being used. Is there any semantic or usage difference between the two words?

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さよなら is a shortened version of さようなら, which in turn comes from [左様]{さよう}ならば.

Both さよなら and さようなら can be used as interjections meaning "farewell" or "goodbye". However, さよなら can also be used as a noun meaning "parting" or "coming to an end".

Here's how I'd describe the uses of さよなら:

  1. さよなら(を)する can express literal or metaphorical parting.

    • 「[青春]{せいしゅん}にさよならする」 literally "saying goodbye to youth"
  2. さよなら can be placed directly before another noun. This expresses parting, or expresses that something is ending:

    • 「さよならパーティー」 A farewell party
    • 「さよなら[公演]{こうえん}」 A farewell performance
  3. In particular, さよなら can be used to express the end of a baseball game:

    • 「さよならホーマー」 A walk-off home run
    • 「さよならゲーム」 A baseball game in the bottom of the ninth

Sometimes 1 and 2 can be expressed with さようなら, but it's less common. Note that it's always さよなら in baseball and in さよなら公演.

Keep in mind that さようなら is the older and more "proper" form of the word, and さよなら may not always be appropriate.

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Great answer, thanks. –  Armandas Nov 10 '12 at 15:48

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