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

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3answers
933 views

Is it polite in Japan to ask if someone speaks English? (英語を話せますか?)

As preparation for my trip, I am re-learning my Japanese. I imagined a scenario which I am not sure if it is okay to ask. Is it polite to ask someone if they speak English or are people offended by ...
5
votes
2answers
217 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
146 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
231 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?
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2answers
395 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
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2answers
487 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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
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1answer
132 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 ...
17
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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
967 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
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1answer
204 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 ...
2
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1answer
331 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 ...
11
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2answers
1k 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 (´▽`) ...
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1answer
96 views

Place to find name popularity rankings? [closed]

Is there any kind of public database to look at popularity of given names?
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1answer
582 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 ...
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1answer
837 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 ...
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1answer
248 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?)
5
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1answer
176 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
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1answer
416 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 ...
20
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8answers
3k 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
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1answer
369 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
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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1answer
503 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
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2answers
387 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 ...
6
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1answer
950 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
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8answers
1k 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?
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2answers
1k 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 ...
11
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1answer
738 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 ...
6
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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2answers
166 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
181 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
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1answer
2k 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 ...
3
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1answer
220 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
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1answer
1k 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 ...
8
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1answer
276 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 ...
9
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1answer
5k 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 ...
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1answer
1k views

Replying to Omedetou

When someone tells you, "Omedetou," what are the different things you can say?
13
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1answer
1k views

Why “社会の窓” (shakai no mado)?

A few years ago I was told by a Japanese friend "社会の窓" (shakai no mado). It was explained after some giggling that this is what is said to a man who has inadvertently left his fly open, and that it ...
11
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1answer
216 views

How can [数]{す}[寄]{き}[者]{しゃ} both mean a tea ceremony master and a “lewd man, a lecher”?

I would like to understand better the etymology or the cultural context surrounding 数寄者 If I believe wwwjdic, this compound is used to denote a tea ceremony master (with a reference to a ...
10
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2answers
274 views

日本のテレビを見ると、サブタイトルがいつも出てきます。でもサブタイトルじゃなくて。。。何と言いますか?

日本のテレビを見ると、サブタイトルがいつも出てきます。でもサブタイトルじゃなくて。。。何と言いますか? what does one call Japanese "subtitles" that constantly appear in Japanese television and to a lesser extent movies? I'm referring to a sentence ...
12
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4answers
1k views

How commonly are “あたし” or “[僕]{ぼく}” used?

My friend and I are learning Japanese. For a time, all we knew was 私, but after we learned more words, she started to use あたし when referring to herself, and I began using 僕. What I'm wondering is, how ...
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2answers
214 views

Is 音沙汰 not used anymore because communication technology has changed?

My understanding of the word 音沙汰【おとさた】(news, letter) is that in terms of usage, it functions the same way that 連絡【れんらく】(contact, communication) does. It refers to modes of communication between ...
4
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2answers
178 views

Are there names like ワンコイン for the other coins?

So ワンコイン refers to a 500円 coin, but is there other names for the other coins? Also in conversation does ワンコイン refer to any specific currency or only to 500 yen (as in the sense of being a default).
10
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2answers
396 views

How would one convey the concept of “vouching” in Japanese?

Update: There seems to be some controversy here as to whether or not there really is a difference between vouching and guaranteeing, which impacts how it is translated. Please see the discussion I ...
0
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1answer
180 views

Who, or what, is Tsunku san? [closed]

Saw this on twitter. つんくさん!いただきます! http://lockerz.com/s/121213710 What does that mean?
12
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1answer
571 views

What is that thing yelled in Japanese when starting something?

When starting some activity, I've heard something like 'Se..inou... ' (I'm not sure what are the specific words for this). The context for this word I'd think is pretty much the same as when saying ...
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1answer
492 views

A tales and stories children book suitable for adult learners?

I like to read children literature in foreign languages I am learning. I usually do not have troubles picking them in european language, but I would need recommendation for Japanese. I would like a ...
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3answers
1k views

Does the (USA) English metaphor “Unable to see the forest for the trees” keep its meaning if translated verbatim into Japanese?

The phrase "Unable to see the forest for the trees" implies one is too entangled in a situation to understand what is transpiring from a larger context, and thus, unable to determine the correct ...