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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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 ...
4
votes
2answers
379 views

Using 全然 with a positive pejorative

So far, I know that in proper speech, 全然 should be used with negative verbs such as 全然出来ません or in expressions such as 全然だめ or 全然違う. I am curious about the second type of usage. In that case, 全然 is ...
4
votes
1answer
276 views

What does で分かる mean?

I have a hard time understanding the use of でわかる. I'm guessing that it doesn't just simply mean that "something is understood". Instead I wonder if it means that "something was realized"? I read the ...
4
votes
1answer
176 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
461 views

Difference between 自分 and 自分自身 and how to reflect their difference in English

Consider: 自分について書きたいことがあります。 = There are times that I want to write about myself (lit: things concerning me) 自分自身について書きたいことがあります。 What is their difference? I think the second sentence ...
2
votes
2answers
340 views

What's the difference between the に祈る【いのる】 and を祈る【いのる】 forms?

What's the difference between the に祈る and を祈る forms? Like what's the difference between (1.) and (2.): うまく行くのに祈ってくださいね。 うまく行くのを祈ってくださいね。 EDIT: What's the difference between the ように祈る and のを祈る ...
13
votes
2answers
362 views

What does とな mean (and how do I use it)?

I came across this on Twitter, it seems to be mostly a question but sometimes an exclamation. Is it とは, or maybe とか? How do you use it? My dictionary has a とな as word that come at the end of a ...
12
votes
2answers
849 views

Which is the “official” kanji for さい, 歳 or 才?

Well if I'm not wrong, usually when a word has multiple kanjis one of them is selected as the "main" or more commonly used one. But is it true that 才 and 歳 are both the "main" kanji for さい?
9
votes
1answer
312 views

what's the difference between 返事 and 答え?

both have the similar English of "answer," but when do you use one over the other?
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you ask for “the bill” at a restaurant?

This is probably a bit of a silly question, but what do you say in Japanese when you're asking for the bill in a restaurant? Or is it unusual to say anything at all? When I was in Japan I could never ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the difference between “マグロ” (maguro), “ツナ” (tsuna), and “シーチキン” (shiichikin)?

It seems that there are (at least) three words for "tuna" in Japanese: "マグロ" / "鮪" / "まぐろ" (maguro) - Seems to be the native name for the creature and used at least in sushi "ツナ" (tsuna) - Seems to ...
7
votes
4answers
734 views

Have you tried XYZ before?

I English I can ask somebody if they've experienced or sampled a food or drink, or even an activity with this verb: Here try this and tell me if you like it. I tried koregusu once but I didn't like ...
7
votes
2answers
158 views

Questions on the word シクシク

I understand that the word シクシク is 擬声語/giseigo/onomatopoeia equivalent to the English "boo-hoo/boo-hoo-hoo." 恐怖でシクシク泣く To whimper in fear 彼女はボーイフレンドに捨てられた時、あまりの惨めさにシクシクと泣いた。 She wailed in misery ...
7
votes
3answers
350 views

what does どことなくつかみどころがなくmean?

I came across this phrase in the sentence: 勘【かん】というものは、しょちゅう経験【けいけん】していながら、どことなくつかみどころがなく、いまの科学【かがく】ではまだその正体【しょうたい】が、明らか【あきらか】にされていない。(Soumatome N1 dokkai, p45) My best effort to translate it ...
7
votes
2answers
137 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. ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Does “おつまみ” (otsumami) mean “snack” or “rice crackers” or “crunchy snack” like chips and peanuts, or something else entirely?

This is a word I learned by reading and not by studying or in conversation with Japanese. After learning the kana years ago I had occasion to fly with JAL and the pre-meal snack was a little packet ...
6
votes
1answer
150 views

What is the difference between 口元 and 口?

When talking about the body part (not, for example, entrances/exits), what is the difference between these two words. Based on looking at these two pages (for 口 and 口元) I'm guessing that the ...
5
votes
3answers
232 views

Why use 数年 in あれから10数年?

My question is on 「あれから10数年」. My understanding is that this translates to roughly, "It's been 10 years since then." The dictionary says「数年」 means "several years" or "a number of years". How does ...
5
votes
1answer
224 views

パソコンが 得意だ/わかる/上手だ

So I was studying through this book called 日本語生中継 and there was this question where you're supposed to choose the inappropriate word among others. And I got stuck at this sentence: ...
5
votes
1answer
230 views

The logic behind “くすぐったい”

I am interested in the literal meaning of くすぐったい. If くすぐったい is equivalent to the English expression, "That tickles!" (said by someone being tickled), what is the literal meaning of this word? If it is ...
5
votes
3answers
271 views

Is タオル used for the towels used at onsen?

onsenjapan.net claims that タオル is used for "towel", presumably the large one. When I asked a staff member at Odeo onsen "これ は 何 ですか?" while indicating the large towel I was holding, the staff member ...
4
votes
1answer
274 views

what exactly is “体言止{たいげんど}め”?

There is some discussion about "体言止め{たいげんどめ}" on the internet, but it is all in Japanese. My Japanese ability is too low to be able to read it, so I need some help. At the least, "体言止め" refers to ...
4
votes
2answers
153 views

Questions about 背負う

背負う is pronounced せおう, but many dictionaries also list a second pronunciation as しょう. I've never heard it pronounced as しょう in practice. In what situations does it have this pronunciation? Is ...
4
votes
1answer
244 views

Is there a Japanese word for “finding the pleasantest point of an interior”?

I recently read a quote from architect Sverre Fehn that stated: "Japan has a word for finding the pleasantest point in an interior..." I was wondering if anyone might know what this word is. Thanks ...
4
votes
2answers
287 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?
3
votes
1answer
257 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
471 views

How do I write “Hard Work and Smart Work”?

I want to write an essay, the title is "Difference between Hard Work and Smart Work". I am trying to search japanese words to express those Hard Work and Smart Work. I wrote "重労働とスマートな仕事の相違点".Would ...
3
votes
3answers
283 views

善くも as opposed to よく

I found this line in the song,”三年目の浮気”: よくいうよ 惚れたお前の負けだよ How can you say that...you fell for me and lost At first I thought it was the よく meaning often, but someone told me it was an ...
3
votes
3answers
167 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
634 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
2answers
153 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).
2
votes
1answer
120 views

How to say “for”

I will use a specific example. I was trying to write "My love for you is hurting me." "私の愛ために貴方は私を傷つけている。" Is what I came up with, however, I am unsure about the usage of "ために" in this situation. ...
1
vote
1answer
175 views

Is there a word or phrase for “run around”?

I'd like to know if there is a phrase similar to the English phrase of "running around". To explain more clearly, it should mean to be able to go out freely and do whatever one like's without being ...