言葉. 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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12
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3answers
626 views

Fun with synonyms - “eternity”

What are the differences among the following two-kanji words that seem to mean "eternity": 永遠 {えいえん} 永久 {とわ} 永世 {えいせい} 永代 {えいたい} 永劫 {えいごう} 永永 {えいえい} 久遠 {きゅうえん} 悠久 {ゆうきゅう} 恒久 {こうきゅう} 恒常 {こうじょう} 長久 ...
12
votes
2answers
402 views

Rare/Obsolete verb forms

I have noticed that some verbs have this "rare" or old form that is no longer used much (if at all). Here are some examples. おそる: おそるべき者 → One who is feared ほむ: ほむべきお方【かた】 → Seen often in my ...
12
votes
1answer
361 views

What to call the characters-based decoration found in many announce emails

Many emails received from Japanese companies contain characters-based dingbat-style ornament like this: ■□■□■□──────────────────────────── blablablablablablablabla ...
12
votes
2answers
680 views

“Should” in Japanese

The word "should" in English has these uses when not used as a question: To express the expectation of the speaker (Probabilistic reasoning). The train should arrive in 10 minutes. To express a ...
12
votes
1answer
463 views

Are the same terms for husbands and wives used for same-sex relationships?

When talking about same-sex relationships in modern Japanese (not Edo-era), are the same words used for husbands and wives as you'd use for opposite-sex relationships? For example, can you use ご主人 to ...
12
votes
1answer
559 views

How do 自他 triplets of related verbs work?

I thought this had been asked before (possibly by me), but I couldn't find it. I'm wondering why for certain verbs/words, instead of just a 自他 pair, there is a triplet (or possibly more) where two of ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Names for strokes

What do we call the different types of strokes of kanji/kana in Japanese? For example, in Chinese the left-downward stroke is called 撇[piě] and the right-downward stroke is called 捺[nà]. And if I ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

What does 男前 mean when used to describe a woman?

I just encountered the phrase 「男前な女」in the book I am reading. When I looked up 男前, it was defined as "good looks in a man," much like "handsome" in English. What does it mean when used to describe a ...
12
votes
3answers
379 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} ...
11
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6answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
287 views

What is the difference between 首相 and 総理?

I learned 総{そう}理{り} as the word for Prime Minister, but I've recently learned that 首{しゅ}相{しょう} is also used. Is there a difference in usage or meaning? Is one more polite than the other?
11
votes
2answers
959 views

What is the difference between 記憶【きおく】 and 思【おも】い出【で】?

Is there any difference between the meanings or connotations of 記憶 and 思い出? I started thinking about this after listening to the song 「タイムマシーン」 or "Time Machine" by 少女時代, where these two lines occur ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

How can you figure out whether 鍵【かぎ】 means “lock” or “key”?

Recently, I forgot whether 鍵【かぎ】 meant lock or key, so I looked it up quickly on my phone's dictionary... And then I found out that it actually means both. What are the best ways to figure out if ...
11
votes
3answers
337 views

Do people actually ever say みょうにち?

I've heard people using あした (the common one) and あす (rather uncommon) to refer to "tomorrow". I was wondering does anyone actually uses the reading みょうにち ?
11
votes
2answers
893 views

Differences between the many words for dinner

According to my dictionary, the following words all mean the same thing: "Dinner": [夜]{よる}ご[飯]{はん}, [晩]{ばん}ご[飯]{はん}, [晩飯]{ばんめし}, [晩食]{ばんしょく}, [夕]{ゆう}ご[飯]{はん}, [夕飯]{ゆうはん(ゆうめし)}, [夕食]{ゆうしょく} A similar ...
11
votes
1answer
612 views

Is かわいい wago or kango?

かわいい is sometimes spelled in kanji as 可愛い. This seems to be an 音読み reading which points to a Chinese loan, and Chinese does have this word. However, the meaning of 可愛 as "cute" in Chinese seems to ...
11
votes
2answers
308 views

Etymology of とんでもない

Where did とんでもない (meaning "not at all" or "outrageous!") come from? Could it be 飛んでもない? ("will not even jump/fly" in a similar way how "When pigs fly" is considered a remark for something ...
11
votes
1answer
245 views

question about kanji sports names 蹴球, 籠球, 庭球, and 野球

A few questions about these words. The words [蹴球]{しゅうきゅう}, [籠球]{ろうきゅう}, and [庭球]{ていきゅう} mean football, basketball, and tennis, respectively. But I have only seen them in a dictionary, and in practice ...
11
votes
2answers
515 views

Non-distinguished animal pairs in Japanese

This is something I first noticed when I was at an aquarium in Japan (as evidenced in my examples) and continued to see ever since. There are certain pairs of animals, that while extremely similar, ...
11
votes
2answers
623 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。
11
votes
1answer
915 views

ならば vs なら. both are totally interchangeable without affecting the nuance of the sentence?

is it true that なら is merely a short form of ならば and as such, both are totally interchangeable without affecting the nuance of the sentence? Also, a second question is is ならば more "formal" than "なら" ...
11
votes
1answer
591 views

Comparing 気にする vs. 気になる

Consider this example sentence from SPACEALC: あなたがどうしているか気になっていた。  "I was concerned about how you were." What is the difference when 気にする is used instead? I.e., あなたがどうしているか気にしていた。 ~なる ...
11
votes
1answer
610 views

How to use ~に同意する to agree or disagree with a person?

A couple of times I've tried to say "I agree with..." or "he agrees with..." but I don't know whether I'm using 同意{どうい}する correctly. In what ways should に同意{どうい}している be used? Also, which particles ...
11
votes
2answers
383 views

What was the Japanese word for “clockwise” (時計回り) before clocks were commonplace?

In English, before clocks were commonplace, the word "clockwise" was obviously not in common use. Instead, the closest alternative to "clockwise" was the now-archaic word "deasil", and its antonym was ...
10
votes
3answers
342 views

What do we call things that are neither kana nor kanji?

I was wondering Is there a Japanese name (or term) for written stuff that are neither kana nor kanji? By that, I mean stuff like: ゠ (ダブルハイフン, for indicating the dash in foreign words) ・ (ぽつ, for ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

Native word for “pen”

Is there a native, non-loanword for "pen" (the writing instrument)? Or is there only 「ペン」? There is one for "pencil" (鉛筆), one for "ruler" (定規), one for "paper" (紙) and even though the one for ...
10
votes
3answers
6k views

Is it true that all Japanese words end in a vowel when transliterated to English?

First off I know zero Japanese, so sorry if this is a stupid question. I seem to remember hearing a while back that all Japanese words, when transliterated to the Latin alphabet, will end in a vowel. ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does 皮肉 mean “irony”?

I gather that 皮肉 can literally mean "skin-meat." I also see that one definition for 皮 is "mask (hiding one's true nature);  seeming." So perhaps 皮肉 can be understood as "hiding the real meat," which ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Is しまった an appropriate translation for “Oops”?

In the course of localising an app for the Japanese language I have been tasked with translating the Google-style error string "Oops", which will presumably be used as in Oops Please check ...
10
votes
2answers
452 views

“看護師” vs. “看護士”

Good afternoon all, I was wondering is it true that "看護師" is a gender-neutral way of referring to a "nurse", Whereas "看護婦" implies that it is a girl, And "看護士" implies that it is a guy? ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Younger uncles and aunts

If you are older than your uncle or aunt, do you still address them as 叔母さん or 叔父さん? I see no reason why you wouldn't, but I recall once seeing a description saying that family titles are only used ...
10
votes
1answer
917 views

What's the difference between 思う and 考える?

These two words both seem to mean "to think", but is there any difference between them? Is it related to the difference between 言う and 話す by any chance?
10
votes
1answer
521 views

Difference between 向け and 向き

My boss just corrected one of my documents from 企業向きな開発 to 企業向けの開発. Apart from the の/な problem that I always get wrong, is there a problem with 向き ? I got it from my textbook that says 子供向きです Could ...
10
votes
1answer
6k views

What is シ●ブ, and why is it censored?

The other day on the train I saw this advertisement for some tabloid, with headlines all over it, as they do: I'm trying to figure out what シ●ブ愛人{あいじん} is. 忍{しのぶ}愛人{あいじん}? "Sneaky lover"? Assuming ...
10
votes
4answers
486 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
635 views

What is the difference between 沸く【わく】, 炊く【たく】, 茹でる【ゆでる】, 煮る【にる】, and 蒸す【むす】?

I am learning JLPT N2. I came across these words in one sentence. I couldn't find the difference between 沸く【わく】, 炊く【たく】, 茹でる【ゆでる】, 煮る【にる】, and 蒸す【むす】. All the words have similar meanings. Can anyone ...
10
votes
2answers
657 views

What words are used for dolphin meat?

What words are used for dolphin meat? Searching jisho.org using "dolphin" in the English field listed several different words for dolphin, but no compounds involving meat. Neither the English nor ...
10
votes
3answers
509 views

Describing aptronyms (names that fit their owner)

I thought of this after seeing a news article about 星出{ほしで}彰彦{あきひこ}, who is an astronaut. Aptronym is a term for a name (often the surname) that fits a person's occupation or personality. A classic ...
10
votes
4answers
942 views

What is the difference in usage between 準備 用意 and 覚悟

The dictionaries translate these three words roughly as preparation/preparedness or ready/readiness. I don't think I undersand the subtleties of their usage. Not to mention できる also has another ...
10
votes
2answers
452 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
842 views

加える/増やす and 加わる/増える or even 増加する/殖/足, various kanji for “adding things”

I'm a bit confused regarding the choice between the 加 and 増 kanji for any meaning related to "adding one thing to another". I assume that, as usual, the suru-verb combination 増加する is somewhat more ...
10
votes
2answers
229 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
903 views

Is it true that にしたって is the colloquial form of にしたところで?

I've been thinking if it is true that にしたって is the colloquial form of にしたところで. In other words, are the bottom two sentences identical in meaning and nuance? 1) ...
10
votes
1answer
551 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?
10
votes
1answer
514 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
311 views

Which verbs have 辞書形 (dictionary forms) that look like ~ます conjugations?

I recently confused 励{はげ}ます for the ~ます form of 禿{は}げる. Although this actually lead to a rather amusing conversation, I'm wondering if there are other examples of this to watch out for?
10
votes
1answer
201 views

The order after 男女比

Here is a short text I've encountered in a manga I'm reading: The main character talks about his school where 男女比 (the sex ratio) is 9 to 1. At first I thought it means that it has 9 times more ...
10
votes
1answer
312 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
363 views

What's the difference between 何【なん】 and 幾【いく】 when referring to amounts?

Is 幾 simply more literary/archaic than 何? Can 幾 only be applied to certain words whereas 何 is more versatile?
10
votes
1answer
199 views

Why does [小っ酷い]【こっぴどい】 mean “very ひどい” rather than “slightly ひどい”?

デジタル大辞林 gives the definition of [小っ酷い]【こっぴどい】 as 非常にひどい。手厳しい。 But I find this strange. Why would 小っ酷い mean 非常にひどい? Isn't prefixal 小【こ】- sort of a diminutive? At least, that's how it works in ...