Where the linguistic aspects of Japanese culture and the cultural aspects of the Japanese language overlap.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
0answers
132 views

Equivalent of “That said, Carthage must be destroyed” in Japanese

"Ceterum censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam," the famous phrase with which Cato the Elder used to finish all of his speeches, no matter how unrelated the topic was. It was probably an effective ...
15
votes
1answer
5k views

Getting your haircut in Japan

I have been living in Japan now for the last 3 months and my hair is starting to look like it needs a cut. But I have never been to a Japanese barbers before so as you can imagine I am a little ...
5
votes
2answers
198 views

What is the best expression used by an employee to appreciate his/her employer?

Assume that the employer gives a presentation to the public audience. After the presentation, you as the employee want to appreciate it. What is the best expression used by an employee to appreciate ...
4
votes
2answers
163 views

What are valid responses to the expressions 「はじめまして」 and 「よろしくおねがいします」 used in introductions?

I came across a learn-Japanese book from the 1980s and wanted to know what you guys think. The book gave a general formula for introduction and here is how it goes: Someone says their name with any ...
1
vote
0answers
112 views

When did LOC adopt modified Hepburn?

If I look in Google Ngrams, I see that the transliteration "honbu", meaning HQ, basically didn't exist until 1964. But it didn't surpass "hombu" until 1976. I believe Modified Hepburn was introduced ...
4
votes
1answer
183 views

What is the implication when a girl refers to herself using “うち”? Is it meant to be more or less feminine? Neutral? Tomboyish?

I realize it is a kind of Kansai-ben but how does it compare to the other forms of "I" in terms of how they want to represent themselves?
5
votes
2answers
357 views

Accepting compliments (without rejecting them)

I find it much more sincere to accept compliments and show how grateful I am rather than to belittle myself. Therefore I would like to know some phrases in Japanese to accept compliments and show my ...
1
vote
2answers
213 views

How to say “person who is consistent” (in romaji) ? Is it a Japanese principle?

I have seen a documentary about a mangaka who would draw her own manga from start to finish and the documentary described that she was applying a Japanese principle of doing things alone, at your own ...
5
votes
2answers
440 views

Is Japanese one of the Buddhist canonical languages?

The languages of oriental Buddhist traditions, be it Theravada or Mahayana, do not always provide complete and entire canonical texts. Up to now, I am aware of Pali, Chinese and Tibetan versions of ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Did the Japanese have a word for surrender before WWII?

I had always thought that the Japanese didn't have a word for surrender before WWII. It seemed to be plausible given their culture. However, I can't seem to find any solid evidence of this. Is it just ...
2
votes
2answers
298 views

Please help me understand [予習]{よ・しゅう}

tl;dr The word 予習 is strange to me. Is its usage related to cultural difference? Does the user's knowledge of the material have something to do with it? I've always had trouble understanding ...
2
votes
1answer
114 views

How do I translate the names of types of school, without reference to the US school system?

Whenever I see Japanese school years translated to English, either in vocab lists or in manga/anime translations, it's always with reference to the US school system (i.e. n'th grade). As I'm not ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are some words written backwards on trucks

I was driving the other day and say a truck with 一般 written as 般一 on the drivers side door. My wife was telling me that this is often the case with trucks, where it is actually written from right to ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

Cartel, syndicate, anti-competitive practice

I've heard this story from several foreigners in Japan: I hired Japanese Company A for a service. I didn't like Japanese Company A, so I went to Japanese Company B in the same industry and tried ...
5
votes
1answer
385 views

Why does Japanese TV News and magazine programs have “mandatory” subtitles/legend?

(I never thought I would ask one of these questions and even considered if it was off topic but this is a very distinct feature of the language as it is really used. Is it due to some characteristic ...
3
votes
1answer
152 views

Can 交番 (koban) be used for old British-style/Dr Who police boxes?

When Dr Who is translated into Japanese, do they translate police box as こうばん? I've seen こうばん in Japan, and they aren't anything like old British police boxes, so if that's how it's translated, is ...
1
vote
1answer
82 views

Would educated Japanese people without special training be able to understand Buddhist mantras/真言?

A well-educated speaker of Hindi (a modern descendant of Sanskrit) who doesn't have any special training in Buddhist (or Hindu) liturgy would probably be able to more or less understand the following ...
2
votes
1answer
175 views

What are the reasons for the huge amount of loanwords in Japanese?

It seems that Japanese has far more loanwords than any other language I've heard spoken. I understand that English is far-reaching and a global language, but are there many known reasons that English ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Will verbal irony and sarcasm be understood and/or appreciated?

It's a topic of debate to what extent Japanese has sarcasm and irony. In any case, Japanese speakers seem to use a whole lot less of it than English speakers. My question is: whether or not Japanese ...
11
votes
2answers
989 views

How do I “understand” kaomoji? (Japanese smilies)

When I see something like this: ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヨイヨイ(ノ´∀`)ノ(ノ´∀`)ノヨイヨイ♪ I think some voodoo demon wants to say something to me. o_O My Japanese friends often use kaomoji. But, when they add (´▽`) ...
-1
votes
1answer
93 views

Place to find name popularity rankings? [closed]

Is there any kind of public database to look at popularity of given names?
6
votes
1answer
217 views

What do you call the small wooden plates that people write wishes in and hang on some stand in a shrine?

What do you call the small pieces of wood(?) where people write wishes on and hang them on some stand close to where you tie folded o-mikuji (おみくじ)? Or are they also called おみくじ? Related question: ...
0
votes
1answer
283 views

How can I tell whether a Japanese company's name is in hiragana or katakana?

So today in class, I actually learned that the Japanese game company "Sega"'s name is actually written in Katakana, not Hiragana. I learned the same also applies to some other notable companies, such ...
5
votes
1answer
565 views

Are there stereotypical speech patterns or inflections associated with gay Japanese speakers?

This is not intended to be a controversial or provocative question. In English, there are "commonly accepted" stereotypes for how gay people sometimes speak. Are there corresponding characteristics ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it proper to thank waitstaff, cashiers, etc. for their service?

In my Japanese class we were taught that one does not need to thank a cashier when they check you out or a server when they bring you your meal, but I always feel awkward remaining silent. Was my ...
1
vote
1answer
199 views

Does the word 津波 (tsunami) have negative connotations?

Or is it just a neutral term for tidal waves? (I'm considering naming a JavaScript library tsunami.js – would it be offensive?)
4
votes
1answer
140 views

What is the background of the phrase 背中で教える, and where does the meaning “to teach with one's back” come from?

I came across this phrase today while doing a lookup on 背中. 背中で教える I checked several sources, and all listed the meaning, amongst others, "to teach with one's back". It seems related to ...
8
votes
1answer
365 views

What is the significance of number of Kanji in a name?

There are several one-character surnames: [林]{はやし}  [森]{もり}  [堤]{つつみ} Most surnames have two-characters: [鈴木]{すずき} [山田]{やまだ} [藤井]{ふじい} [酒井]{さかい} [松村]{まつむら} A few surnames have ...
6
votes
1answer
213 views

Translating volitive expressions in ads into English

I saw this on an advertisement outside the construction site of a company that makes wooden houses: 木{き}の家{いえ}と、暮{く}らそう。 I'm trying to think of a way to translate it other than: Live with a wooden ...
16
votes
8answers
2k views

Does the Japanese language only have negative terms for flirting?

I am looking for terms in the Japanese language which can describe the act of flirting in a positive light. This probably requires inventing terms to close a lexical gap, because as far as I know, all ...
4
votes
1answer
319 views

How would I respectfully disagree with a peer?

This is probably related to How would I respectfully disagree with a superior? however the context is a tech forum where the thread starter is asking for someone technically advanced to help, and the ...
4
votes
1answer
632 views

Are there any issues with sexism in the Japanese language?

The only example I can think of/that I know of at the moment that has ever been of controversy with regard to sexism in Japanese was the change from 看護婦 to 看護師. I'm sure there are probably many more ...
0
votes
1answer
383 views

Colour connotations in Japanese language?

In English cultures there is a thin line (that usually isn't crossed) between symbolism (usually used in visual arts) and lingual connotation which is usually used in creative writing, and colour is a ...
5
votes
2answers
337 views

Do Chinese loanwords have special connotations as foreign words?

I once heard that the Japanese like to use words like 「トイレ」 and 「お手洗い」 to refer to the water closet/bathroom because they are neutral and don't have dirty connotations, especially the English ...
5
votes
1answer
414 views

How should I bid farewell to a superior?

My boss is leaving soon after years of service. What would be a good way for me to express my gratitude for all of his guidance and help? I am somewhat familiar with the expression お世話になりました but am ...
13
votes
8answers
834 views

Is the word ハーフ derogatory?

Is the term ハーフ (mixed-race Japanese/other) derogatory? Can you use it in a newspaper article? Can you use it to describe your boss? If it is derogatory, what word(s) should one use instead?
16
votes
2answers
890 views

When and how did USA and UK come to be written as [米]{べい}[国]{こく} and [英]{えい}[国]{こく}?

I know of four countries with a specific kanji besides Japan: China, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. The last two must be quite recent (I presume 19th century) but I wonder on the details and context ...
10
votes
1answer
594 views

Is -さん used when referring to a celebrity or historical figures?

When referring to a celebrity or historical figure, do you use -さん? I am listening to Yoko Shimomura. Would it be:"下村陽子さんを聞いている。"? Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. Would it ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

How and when do Japanese children learn kanas and kanji?

I wonder how exactly Japanese children learn to write. It may help a foreigner to know what is important to memorize or not. The only thing I know is that first of all, hiragana are learnt, and then ...
3
votes
2answers
147 views

What is 日本橋{にっぽんばし}?

So I'm doing some exercises in Minna no Nihongo and run across these two sentences: どこで安い電気製品を売っていますか。 大阪の日本橋で売っています。 I looked it up and saw it mean japanese bridge but the way it is in the ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Expressing “don't work too hard”

I've read at other sites that "don't work too hard" isn't something that's generally said in Japanese. Is there any truth to this? Are there any alternatives if that is the case? In which ...
5
votes
1answer
168 views

Is ノシ considered 絵文字?

My friend ended a letter thusly: あとでノシ ノシ symbolizes a waving arm. Is this considered 絵文字 or does it have a different name?
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What do you mean, “In Japanese there are no words for ”I’m suffering“”?

Today I noticed this article about eating disorders in Japan, which I got to via the News on Japan site. The first line jumps out at me. Supposedly, in an interview, a 25 year old Japanese woman ...
2
votes
1answer
180 views

Is まい as in あるまい really only used in literary texts or TV?

My understanding --admittedly limited-- is that in Japanese, people say as much as they can with as little words as possible. So I wondered why ないだろう would be used in everyday speaking instead of まい? ...
6
votes
1answer
667 views

“Your sniffling is driving me crazy!”

There are people in Japan who seem to think nothing of sniffling their nose indefinitely as they sit in a coffee shop, in an office, on a train, or anywhere with other people around. Sometimes ...
7
votes
3answers
7k views

Address someone by their first name, or their last name?

When addressing John Doe, would you say "John-さん", or "Doe-さん"? Does it depend on how polite or formal you're being? Does it also depend on whether the person is a nihonjin, a kankokujin (who have ...
7
votes
1answer
226 views

Is it OK to keep saying ありがとう

I was asking a Japanese person for some help and noticed that I kept saying ありがとうございます over and over as they helped me more. Culturally, is it OK to keep saying it multiple times in Japanese? Would it ...
8
votes
1answer
250 views

Meaning of “マスオさんする”

What is the meaning of "マスオさんする" in the following self-introduction extract? 家は表参道と近所ですが、特段お金持ちなわけではありません、妻の実家でマスオさんしてます。 My translation attempt: I live near Omotesando, but I am not rich: I ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

How to define 羨ましい?

羨【うらや】ましい! You're so lucky!/ I envy you!/ I'm jealous of you! As I learned it, 羨ましい as an exclamation does not carry much of a negative context, so perhaps a combination of these three ...
17
votes
3answers
969 views

Is it ok for non-japanese to refer to themselves as 僕{ぼく} and if not why?

Grammatically speaking it shouldn't be an issue, but I have heard from some people that a non-japanese using 僕{ぼく} sounds really weird. Has anyone else heard this? And if so, is there a reason?