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
149 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
91 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
463 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
110 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
932 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
95 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
175 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
292 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
92 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
108 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
57 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
265 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
626 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
125 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
72 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
240 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
520 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
259 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
227 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
315 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
2k 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
291 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
424 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
172 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
154 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
120 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
94 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
251 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
870 views

What is the most common word in Japanese?

What is the most common word in Japanese?
14
votes
1answer
255 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
180 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
194 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
143 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
146 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
372 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
252 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
141 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
162 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
379 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
103 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
204 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
359 views

Does うるさい have a “negative” connotation?

Is it true that when someone uses the word うるさい, it means that there is a feeling of "discontent" ? Like for example, we will take this sentence: "It will be noisy in the factory" "It will be ...
2
votes
1answer
121 views

Using を/に+伴う and meaning of 後接させる (+ 現場指示 and 文脈指示)

Here is the sentence (from the 日本語文法ハンドブック : 疑問詞が 「が」 「を」 以外の格助詞を伴う時はその格助詞の後にそのまま 「も」 を後接させます。 My guess : When the interrogatives are accompanied by a case-marking particle other than "が" ...
9
votes
3answers
403 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
465 views

Is there a word for the type of onigiri that comes in the triangular wrap that keeps the nori fresh?

The term "onigiri" covers all kinds of rice balls, with or without filling, and with or without nori seaweed around it. Is there a specific term that only covers the one class of onigiri available in ...
5
votes
1answer
150 views

What's the difference between 舟 and 船?

They both mean "ship/boat". Are they completely interchangeable? Do they signify boats of different sizes or uses (people, cargo, etc.)? Is only 船 used in compounds to describe metaphorical "boats" ...
4
votes
2answers
148 views

Are “ピーナッツ” and “ピーナツ” both correct for “peanut(s)”?

I've just noticed that the usual word for "peanut" or "peanuts" in Japanese is "ピーナッツ" (pīnattsu), but the first spelling I found, from looking in the translation table in the English Wiktionary was ...
4
votes
2answers
314 views

Can と and な have the same meaning?

I was told that the following uses of と and な after 色々 were the same. 彼女のために色々と甘いものを買ってきた。I bought a bunch of sweets and brought them to my GF. 彼女のために色々な甘いものを買ってきた。 If this is true, is this an ...
3
votes
1answer
214 views

Why would one use 当て字?

I came across 当て字 in my N1 vocabulary list, and while I think I understand what it is from the definition "kanji used as a phonetic symbol, rather than for its meaning", I'm not sure what the point of ...