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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8
votes
3answers
826 views

How to begin a reply to a question?

During Q&A in English, "well" and "uhm" are two ways to begin a reply. If you known the answer, you begin the reply with "Well... ". This creates a pause such that the speaker can arrange his ...
5
votes
1answer
182 views

I am struggling with the sometimes conflicting uses of 先

Rikaisama's definition of 先 includes meanings like previous; prior; former; some time ago. However it also includes meanings such as front; ahead; the future; destination. I am struggling to make ...
6
votes
2answers
243 views

What may be the difference between the usage of チャンス and 機会 ?

What may be the difference between the usage of チャンス and 機会 ? For example: 1) これは機会だぜ! 2) これはチャンスだぜ!
5
votes
2answers
113 views

センスで嗅覚も研ぎ澄ます - “sense of sense of smell?” Why use センス?

In the Zelda video game guidebook I am translating there is a part of the game where you transform into a wolf and have to rely on your senses. The title of this section of the guidebook is ...
6
votes
2answers
169 views

What is the origin of ポイ as in “タバコのポイ”?

I was trying to see how much of the writing on the signs in the park I could make sense of today and found something of interest. A sign stating what not to do in the park covered not littering and ...
2
votes
1answer
138 views

Is there a term for words that share the same kana spelling?

I would like to know if there is a word (in either Japanese or English) that describes pairs of words that are spelled the same in kana. For example, 橋 and 箸 would be "homo-kana" words, because they ...
4
votes
2answers
424 views

What is the difference between んじゃない and んだ?

I came across the following sentence: 「…あの犯行予告、俺がやったんじゃないんだけどな。」 I also have English subtitles which translate this phrase as: "I wasn't the one who issued that threat, but no matter." What's the ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

てらんない- can't bear to do ~ [closed]

When we use ていられない, it means that we don't bother or care to do something. アさん)ああ、危なくて見てらんない! イさん) もう黙っていらんない。注意しよう。 A) Oh no, I can't bear to see him doing dangerous things. B) me too, I ...
4
votes
1answer
137 views

What does 字以外に mean?

I don't usually ask questions like this, but I'm having a hard time figuring this out: 字以外に日本の好きなのありますか? The "ji igai ni" is throwing me off, is it asking whether you like other things about ...
3
votes
1answer
88 views

Meaning of “とも思う”

I'm not sure about "とも" in this sentence. そんなことを聞いては失礼かとも思ったが、どうしても聞かずにはいられなかった。 Can anyone explain the usage of とも
5
votes
2answers
426 views

What's the difference between 触る and 触れる?

These two seem to overlap almost completely. The only thing I can really tell is that 触れる seems that it can also be used in a metaphorical sense ("touch on" something; feel; perceive). I'm ...
2
votes
1answer
107 views

is 指関節{しかんせつ} a “normal” japanese word or a rare technical one?

I was doing my vocab training and added a few body parts. Then I noticed that the word I had found in the English Wiktionary for "knuckle" seems to be untypable with my Windows Japanese IME. This ...
13
votes
3answers
889 views

Historical differences between colors that are i-adjectives and those that are simply nouns

EDIT: Started a bounty with hope of getting more definitive and elaborate answers, e.g. timeline of when color names started being used in Japan. In Japanese language, there are colors that are ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

Can 複合動詞{ふくごうどうし} ever not have [送]{おく}り[仮名]{がな} placed between the 2 kanji?

Can 複合動詞{ふくごうどうし} ever not have [送]{おく}り[仮名]{がな} place between the 2 kanji in the compound verb?
9
votes
1answer
172 views

Employed by one institution but work for another

I've worked my current job for a few years, and I can't believe I've never thought of this question. I have a unique employment situation. I am employed by a university, but the work I do is for the ...
3
votes
1answer
288 views

Is 芸姑 a real word?

Do IMEs offer gibberish non-words when they make suggestions? I know that there's many words that have the same pronunciation, and therefore users of IMEs have to choose the correct one. I think 感じ ...
1
vote
0answers
90 views

Meaning of 自慢の目利き [closed]

Could you please tell me how should I understand and translate 自慢の目利き in the following sentence. この季節は、町内の市場は休みがないため、下苧坪さん(he's a 魚の仲買人- fish dealer) は、毎朝漁港に出かけ、その自慢の目利きで、新鮮な海の幸を仕入れる。 Source: ...
2
votes
1answer
106 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
46 views

「やる」Uses and definition [duplicate]

Ok, I see the word やる used in a lot of different contexts, meaning anything from "to kill" to "have sex with" to "make a vehicle go faster" to "give to someone of lower status". I am constantly ...
2
votes
3answers
250 views

Typing Japanese text from images or clothing

Is there a way of typing Japanese characters when you have no knowledge of the language? I've cut and pasted from Japanese websites before and used translation websites from English to Japanese with ...
5
votes
3answers
573 views

How do you write “share” (as in “tell others”) in Japanese?

My company is developing an iPhone game that will be for sale in the US and Japan. There is a share button that allows people to text message, email, Facebook, and twitter their friends about the ...
6
votes
1answer
117 views

What is でれでれ (spoony)?

Could someone explain what this word means? It seems to describe a man who will do anything a woman he likes wants him to do but it is not that obvious from the E&J defintions and picture below, ...
5
votes
1answer
70 views

さまよう vs ぶらつく vs うろつく for the sense of “to wander”?

I thought I might add a word to my Japanese vocabulary that means as close to "to wander" as possible in English. In the English Wiktionary three Japanese words are mentioned but only one has an ...
5
votes
2answers
197 views

ふるさと (home town, birthplace) uses which kanji - 古里 or 故郷?

I've noticed that there are 2 ways (at least, maybe more) of writing ふるさと (home town, birthplace): 古里 故郷 Am I correct? Are they interchangeable? Is one used more often than another?
8
votes
3answers
495 views

Can 対 be used in Japanese where “Versus” would be used in English?

Let's say you were comparing/contrasting two concepts e.g. in a title of an essay/article. Concept A vs. Concept B - Which is Better? The above is just an example. Can 対 be used? Also, how ...
3
votes
3answers
255 views

Whats the difference between ぜひ and もちろん

Both mean of course, right? I always traditionally used もちろん but I increasingly seem to see ぜひ. When do you use each?
3
votes
1answer
213 views

What does this person mean by “doryo” in this context?

Two Japanese-fluent characters in an English novel I'm reading are talking about a specific heart problem one character concealed from medical exams. That character is requesting the second character ...
6
votes
1answer
314 views

Is there a Japanese word for “area with a collection of izakaya stalls or booths”?

I know that the traditional Japanese style pubs that serve food as well as drinks are called "居酒屋". But once a few years ago in Yamagata city, and last night here in Kagoshima city, I ended up in a ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you say “funny”?

The English word "funny" means "something that makes one laugh". What is/are the closest Japanese word/words that match the meaning and the nuance of the word "funny"? Two possible matches are ...
3
votes
1answer
258 views

In the japanese The legend of Zelda (e.g. Ocarina of Time), why is navi spelled ナビィ and not just ナビ?

I started playing the Japanese version of Ocarina of time and noticed that navi is spelled as ナビィ instead of just ナビ. I know that you can combine e.g. フ and イ for フィ, but the one in ナビィ seems ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Are there words which consist of katakana and hiragana letters together?

Obviously many Japanese words consist of kanji characters plus hiragana since the latter are used for okurigana: 食べる 水割り 鷹の爪 Recently I'v started to discover a few words that use kanji characters ...
5
votes
2answers
413 views

Some words I'm not understanding

So this is from the manga Kochikame: Basically the guy on the ground was asking the cop directions while the cop was listening to a horse race on the radio and found out his horse lost. Anyway, in ...
4
votes
1answer
155 views

Repetitive words (e.g. どんどん, ぺらぺら, いらいら…)

This is one area that sometimes dings me on tests. While I can generally figure out what is meant from context, I only know a handful offhand. The question here is twofold: Is there a specific ...
5
votes
1answer
133 views

What are the most common words made with numbers,aka 語呂合わせ (4649)

This is partly inspired by the recent question on words with both types of kana. I am referring to words such as: 39=さんきゅう=Thank you 4649-> よろしく、46 in internet slang 5963-> ご苦労さん I know ...
3
votes
1answer
118 views

What kinds of things can be an 愛機?

大辞泉 gives the following definition for 愛機【あい.き】: 日ごろ好んで使い、大事にしている写真機などの機器。また、愛用の飛行機。 Meanwhile, the 大辞林 第三版 gives the following definition: 使い慣れて,大切にしている写真機などの機器。また,愛用の飛行機。 Also, 明鏡国語辞典 ...
2
votes
1answer
89 views

Grammatically correct but good writing?

The following sentence comes from 中上級の日本語 magazine for february: 新聞記事は、記者がコツコツと取材をしてデータを集め、それをもとに出来事を調べたり、関係者の話を聞いたりして書かれています。 It is grammatically correct but I find the change from active to ...
3
votes
2answers
228 views

How is the word まさか used?

Plain and simple. The Jisho definition "by no means; never!; well, I never!; you don't say!" doesn't seem to coincide with any of the sample sentences I find either on Jisho or Tatoeba. Can someone ...
3
votes
1answer
628 views

What is the most common word in Japanese?

What is the most common word in Japanese?
14
votes
1answer
251 views

Is 花見 only for “cherry blossom” viewing?

Textbooks usually teach that 花見 / お花見 means "cherry blossom viewing". Tatoeba has a couple of examples supporting that: ヒラヒラと桜の花が舞っている。もうお花見の季節も終わりだな It looks like cherry blossom-viewing ...
4
votes
1answer
166 views

What time of day does [後]{のち} cover in 天気予報?

Often the weather forecasts will say something like 晴れ [後]{のち} 所により曇り → Sunny/Clear; later Partly Cloudy In English, most weather reports use more precise with time ranges, like (early/mid/late) ...
4
votes
1answer
191 views

“Line of code” in Japanese

I've been doing a bit of work with rendering 縦書き【たてがき】 in HTML, and was having a running internal monologue in Japanese about how things were progressing when I hit on a missing word: "line" as in ...
1
vote
3answers
125 views

An appropriate word for “psyllium seed husk powder” that doesn't describe it as a laxative? (Plantago psyllium L)

I'm thinking about translating a recipe in Japanese and I'm kind of astonished that there isn't a wikipedia page for psyllium seed husk powder, but there's a brief one for psyllium. I'm not sure if ...
3
votes
1answer
142 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
358 views

Can どっち mean which one of many?

Given my understanding, it seems like "どちら" has the exclusive meaning of "which one (of two)" and "どれ" means "which one (of many)". Does どっち include both of these meanings? Also, do all of these ...
0
votes
1answer
247 views

When grandmas tell their kids お天道様がみてるよ, how do the kids know who お天道様 is?

I checked Japanese Wikipedia and お天道様 is an early Edo period word for the sun, as used in some kind of early modern popular religion that is not really described well at all. Anyway, I've never seen a ...
4
votes
1answer
138 views

Are 清酒{せいしゅ} and 日本酒{にほんしゅ} two words for the same thing?

As well as the several other kinds of Japanese alcoholic drinks I seem to have found two words which both mean the drink known in the west as "saké". Now I know 酒{さけ} can be used for many kinds of ...
3
votes
1answer
158 views

How would you use 化かす?

The dictionary says that it means 'To bewitch.' Could you please give an example of it's use and when you'd use it? Thank you immensely!
5
votes
1answer
375 views

How is となりのトトロ supposed to be perceived in Japanese?

How is the title of the well-known cartoon となりのトトロ supposed to be perceived in Japanese? What is the device behind the トトロ? Is it alliteration, word-play or something else?
4
votes
2answers
100 views

Meaning of 「臨徴す」?

I'm currently reading the novel 「学生街の殺人」by 東野圭吾, and on page 230 the following sentence is spoken: 「商店街の会費を臨徴して作ったんだろう?まさしく背水の陣だな」 The character is referring to all shop owners of the district ...
4
votes
1answer
202 views

Are the expressions 桜咲くand 桜散る only used for exams?

Those expressions mean respectively to pass and to fail an exam. I have the feeling that those expressions convey something that is not in the neutral verbs to pass and to fail. That is to say that ...