Any question that does not deal specifically with grammar or pronunciation. Includes questions about prefixes, suffixes, compound words, loanwords, dialectal differences, pragmatic usage, etc. In other words, phenomena that occurs at the level of the word.

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5
votes
2answers
696 views

“Dyke” and “Femme”

Warning! This question contains at least one, possibly, derogatory word. I appologise if readers are offended. A friend of mine asked me to translate a passage from a poem in British English into ...
3
votes
2answers
161 views

What is the first meaning of たたき台?

たたき台 means a springboard for discussion. According to my dictionary, this word's first meaning is "chopping block". On Google Images, it does not look like the plastic/wood board I use to cut ...
5
votes
2answers
325 views

Questions about ありたい

心がいつも美しくありたいです I want my heart to always be beautiful. 心がいつも美しくして欲しいです (Incorrect) 心がいつも美しくなりたいです I want my heart to always be beautiful.(?) My Japanese friend wrote the ...
8
votes
4answers
443 views

word search: voluntary pause between desire and action

Some years ago, I read that Japanese has a word (or idiomatic expression) that means roughly: The action of voluntary interposing a pause between the moment you desire something and the moment you ...
9
votes
2answers
325 views

Terms for Japanese/Western name order

Does anybody know of a standard term to describe Japanese and Western name orders (for example, when filling a form): John Somelastname ← "Western name order" Somelastname John ← "Japanese ...
5
votes
1answer
162 views

How can I express “and/or”?

When stating two things e.g. A and B , and not counting the possibility of "neither", there exists A, B and A and B. To express all of them at once, "and/or" is commonly used. What are the ways to ...
3
votes
1answer
144 views

What's the difference between 両方 and 双方?

What's the difference between 両方 and 双方? I am definitely more acquainted with 両方, so I guess it is used for a wider variety of things, but could anyone tell me the specifics of what they can or cannot ...
4
votes
3answers
274 views

What role does よかった play in this exchange?

It's from twitter. hetusa: 福岡県筑後、羽犬塚から行方不明になっていた叔母(73才)が発見された、と知らせがありました。 itoi_shigesato: よかった。 hetusa: ありがとうございました My feeling is that it says something like 'just so'. Also, it common to respond ...
6
votes
1answer
369 views

苦手 in describing dislike of people

率直に言って彼女が苦手なのは、彼女はまず最初に他人の助けを求めるからです。 Frankly speaking, I dislike her, because the first thing she does is to ask other people for help. I would like to better understand the quality of ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Slang definitions of ハゲ

私に命令するな。何様だこのハゲ。 Don't tell me what to do! Who the fuck does this idiot think he is? Besides meaning bald, or a bald/balding person, when cursing, does ハゲ also just become a generic curse ...
4
votes
1answer
271 views

Appropriateness of the word 膣外射精 in average adult conversations?

In discussing the marriage of Jin Akanishi and Meisa Kuroki, and why many young celebrities in Japan seem to fall into shotgun marriages, I wanted to use an equivalent for the term "withdrawal ...
7
votes
2answers
150 views

Dismissing an expectation

What can be said when I need to dismiss an expectation? Here are some examples of what I mean by "expectation": I ask someone what time it is, then I remembered that I'm actually wearing a watch. ...
6
votes
2answers
173 views

Is その always or only occasionally a demonstrative adjective?

The following Japanese sentence was translated with その as "the": その 仕事の一部を誰かにやってもらったほうがいい。 You should get someone else to do some of the work for you. while I translated it with その as "that": ...
1
vote
2answers
204 views

Defining a particular 系

http://mainichi.jp/life/kimochi/archive/news/2012/20120205ddn013070029000c.html The article above, about how a girl wants to be loved, is entitled 愛され系  I am wondering which definition of 系 ...
8
votes
2answers
203 views

The difference between 皮膚【ひふ】 and 皮【かわ】

What's the difference? I got told that 皮膚【ひふ】 only works for mammals (and humans), and 皮【かわ】 for other animals too.
10
votes
1answer
220 views

Fun with synonyms - “flattery"

What are the difference in the following words meaning flattery / to flatter: お世{せ}辞{じ} 追{つい}従{しょう} おべっか 胡{ご}麻{ま}をする 阿{おもね}る 諂{へつら}う 煽{おだ}て(る) 美{び}辞{じ}麗{れい}句{く} Which ones are honest, sincere ...
5
votes
1answer
192 views

Fun with synonyms - “freeze”

I'm a little confused on the difference between 凍る 【こおる】 and 凍える 【こごえる】. From what I've researched, it seems like 凍る focuses more on the physical process of something freezing, and the result being ...
7
votes
1answer
206 views

Difference between 創立、設立、樹立

Can anyone explain the difference between these words? They all basically mean "to set up / to found", and from what I've researched, it's all very 微妙 to me.
5
votes
1answer
109 views

Help with an expression that uses お笑い vocabulary

突っ込みどころ満載 I just have to butt in here. / I'd love to put my two cents in. I am having a hard time figuring out this expression. I see it uses vocabulary particular to お笑い, but I would ...
3
votes
3answers
174 views

What are the particular words for the first iteration of things?

Does anyone know the sorts of items for whose first iteration Japanese people have special names? The only example I can remember at the moment is for the first leader or, to be precise, (and reveal ...
8
votes
2answers
321 views

Any books or websites dedicated to Japanese tech/IT language?

I work in IT in Tokyo, so most of what I do doesn't require interaction with our Japanese customers, but every so often we get that one phone call where someone wants something explained, and I can ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

How can I differentiate between feet and legs?

Feet are 足, and legs are also 足. Is there a word or method with which I can easily talk about one and not the other? And if not, why is there no word for feet in the Japanese language? Caveat: I ...
5
votes
2answers
413 views

Expressing neighborhood in Japanese

Something I have often stumbled on is the expression of "neighborhood" in Japanese. For most uses I find that 近所 works well. However, this usually seems to refer to a closer proximity than one would ...
3
votes
2answers
847 views

How do I convey “As you all know”?

Having been trying to write a "sakubun", I must say that I had some trouble to find a reliable translation for the phrase "as you all know" such as: As you all know, the education system in our ...
3
votes
1answer
558 views

Why is 自分 used instead of 私?

For example: 自分の名前が呼ばれたとき、私は自分の耳を疑った。I couldn't believe my ears when I heard my name called. Would it be appropriate if I said 私? When is it appropriate to use 自分? What is the difference?
6
votes
2answers
324 views

Is the grammar of 心の冷たい人 idiomatic?

The phrase 心の冷たい人 (which is given by Japanese-English dictionary on OS X) looks wrong to me, but given that it's an example in a respected dictionary and confirmed by tens of thousands of Google hits, ...
-1
votes
1answer
131 views

attending court clerk in Japanese [closed]

What does 'attending court clerk' mean in Japanese? I can't find it.
4
votes
2answers
3k views

How can I improve my Japanese vocabulary, grammar, and listening skills? [closed]

I consider myself at a lower intermediate level. I want to improve my Japanese vocabulary and grammar in order to expand my reading and speaking skills. I know enough Japanese to get around and have a ...
1
vote
2answers
164 views
4
votes
1answer
193 views

Meaning and spelling of1対1で対応

In a recent email conversation, an acquaintance used the expression: 1対1で対応するそれは、大変だね。 Although I can vaguely infer the meaning of the expression 1対1で対応する (いちたいでたいおう), I am having a hard time ...
8
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
197 views

“Dive” = “fly into”?

The words 飛ぶ and 跳ぶ are both read as とぶ, the former meaning "to fly" and the latter meaning "to jump" (generally; don't know if they are interchangeable at all). The compound-verb suffix 〜込【こ】む means ...
9
votes
1answer
249 views

What's the difference between 電光石火【でんこうせっか】 and 疾風迅雷【しっぷうじんらい】

They both seem to mean "quick as lightning". What are the nuances between them? In what sort of context would they be used? Are they interchangeable? etc.
16
votes
7answers
1k views

the different usages of つもり?

Hi all I understand that つもり means "intention" like say 夏休みにはゆっくり休むつもりです。 = I intend to rest during the summer vacation. But what does 分かっているつもりだ。 means? Well if I translate directly, it seems to be ...
10
votes
3answers
324 views

Are there differences in nuance and usage of [内]{ない}[緒]{しょ}, [秘]{ひ}[密]{みつ}, [隠]{かく}し[事]{ごと} and [秘]{ひ}め[事]{ごと}?

They all carry the meaning of "secret" in English, but are there differences in nuance and usage of each of them: [内]{ない}[緒]{しょ} [秘]{ひ}[密]{みつ} [隠]{かく}し[事]{ごと} [秘]{ひ}め[事]{ごと} ...
12
votes
2answers
494 views

Is there a difference between 赤{あか} and 赤色{あかいろ}?

While studying Japanese I've met some problems with distinguishing some vocabulary. For example we have: 赤{あか} = Red (color) 赤{あか}い = Red (adjective) But what about 赤色{あかいろ}? Is there ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Can I help you?

In English, the word "help" can be used for any of these cases to ask somebody for help or to give a help to someone: In a store, when a clerk (store worker) says: Can I help you, sir? With ...
8
votes
1answer
438 views

Nuances of “give” - あげる/与える/授ける

Can someone give some good context and scenarios for using these? Not only when to use them, but when NOT to use them as well. I know あげる is kind of the most common, but I'm just not sure of the ...
9
votes
1answer
200 views

Using くれる for doing something bad

Today I heard the phrase なんてことしてくれた, as in: 君!なんてことしてくれたんだ! which I learned means "Look what you've done". I thought くれる was only used when someone does something nice for you. Is this just a ...
12
votes
2answers
740 views

What is the differences in nuances between とうとう and やっと?

What is the differences in nuances between とうとう and やっと? is it true that やっと has a more "happy" feeling attached to it?
4
votes
2answers
305 views

is “超” (chō) seldom used in written works?

Is it true that the prefix 超 to mean “very” is seldom used in written works (like novels.. but of course i do not count the words between the 「 and 」), and is usually only used when talking?
-4
votes
1answer
368 views

What does 染めちゃえ mean here? [closed]

Saw this on twitter: A: マオにゃん、シドギャの彼女が出来ない僕に一言くれたら幸いです ... B: 付き合った後に染めちゃえ What is 染めちゃえ here?
5
votes
2answers
186 views

What does 「父なる砂漠」mean?

There is a line in the 「この涙 星になれ」, which is a song of ZARD (Sakai Izumi): 父なる砂漠 コイン投げて 明日を占おう I don't understand the meaning of 「父なる砂漠」. It's quite strange to think of it as the desert that has ...
4
votes
5answers
754 views

「安い」って英語からきた表現?

皆さんこんにちは、 日本語で質問を聞かせていただきますので、ご協力ください。 回答やコメントなどは、日本語か英語、どちらの言語でも喜んで読みます。 では。 此間友達と喋っていて好みの話をしていた時一人が「ホラー映画やB級映画が大好き」と言うやいなや「あなた安いな〜」ともう一人が反応しました。 ...
9
votes
2answers
492 views

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう?

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう ? For example, in this sentence 10人中3人はビデオを持っている which pronunciation should we use? What about this: そのピアニストの演奏中、彼らは一心に耳を傾けた。
5
votes
4answers
391 views

does anyone know of any o-words or go-words which are absolutely neutral?

Does anyone know of any o-words or go-words which are absolutely neutral (have no nuances of being polite / courteous / respectful / womanly / cute etc etc)? The only ones I'm aware of currently is ...
7
votes
3answers
562 views

うるさい written as 五月蝿い

This is a follow-up question to Does うるさい have a "negative" connotation. I've seen うるさい written as 五月蝿い. 現代では、is this form used often / at all? What does this have to do with flies (蝿【はえ】) in May? ...
1
vote
1answer
168 views

幼いときに老けて、老いて子供に戻る。Can anyone explain the nuances of this sentence?

幼いときに老けて、老いて子供に戻る。 I can make a few guesses as to the specific meaning but I'm not sure which one is right.. does anyone know what would be the most correct translation of this sentence?
8
votes
2answers
252 views

「悪気があっての答え」 vs 「悪気がある答え」

Hi all I was wondering what is the difference between these two sentences: 「決して悪気があっての回答ではないです。」 「決して悪気がある回答ではないです。」 I can't really make out the gist of the meaning of 「あっての」. WWWJDIC's ...
7
votes
1answer
290 views

Words with metathesis

What common Japanese words underwent metathesis (transposition of sounds)? Examples. 新{あたら}しい < あらたしい 秋葉原 {あきはばら} < あきばはら