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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1answer
181 views

What is the connection between shrimp and old age?

Shrimp(えび) is written several different ways in Japanese. For example, there are the words commonly used in Chinese: 蝦 and 鰕. There is also a compound specific to Japan, 海老, and a kokuji, 蛯. Both of ...
8
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1answer
154 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 ...
8
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3answers
361 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 ...
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3answers
472 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 ...
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4answers
280 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 ...
8
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1answer
123 views

Etymology of the term お局 and how it is used in slang

Can someone explain the etymology of the word お局 as well as how it is used in modern slang? I took an educated guess as to the colloquial meaning but am unsure of its nuances, be they comedic, ...
8
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1answer
190 views

かかったためしない - how can this be translated?

I encountered the following sentence in a comic book which I could not make sense of. The comic strip depicts a character using a simple bird trap and saying: 「長年やってるけどかかったためしないなあ」 The first part, ...
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2answers
274 views

What しかりだ does mean?

I need to know what しかりだ does mean. I couldn't find over internet a satisfactory meaning. It is from a manga called Saint Seiya. Here is the whole text: 黄金聖闘士 十二人とはいえ まだ幼い者が かなり多い シルバーセイント ...
8
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2answers
378 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 ...
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2answers
165 views

“乗せる” vs “乗っける”

Good afternoon all, I was wondering when someone gives someone a ride (bicycle, car, etc), what's the difference in nuance between using the verb "乗せる" and the verb "乗っける"? For example, I was ...
8
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1answer
240 views

Kanji use in these words, 今 vs 未

I'm learning vocabulary from 日本語総まとめN2. In one section they describe four words and group them together (I assume because they have slightly different meanings but somewhat similar). They group them ...
8
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4answers
499 views

Are there any common Japanese words which were borrowed from Ainu or other indigenous languages?

I know plenty of Japanese words that came from English and a few from other European languages (obviously tons from Chinese), but what about words from Japan's indigenous languages such as Ainu? Also ...
8
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2answers
219 views

Expressing scientific notation and units in speech

I've got two related questions: 1) How do you say numbers in scientific notation in Japanese? For example, 3x108 is spoken in English as "three times ten to the eight". Do negative exponents works ...
8
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1answer
1k 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
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1answer
273 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 ...
8
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1answer
112 views

Does 「鳴く」 give any nuances about the sound being made?

When we say "birds singing", there is a positive connotation. When we say "birds crowing", there is a negative connotation. "The birds are making some sound" seems to be objective, and thus neutral. ...
8
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1answer
226 views

How different is 冷やかす from 冷やす? And 散らかす from 散らす?

I've long known 冷やす as the transitive counterpart of 冷える. But thanks to one question here, I've realized that there is another version with an extra syllable in it: 冷やかす. Although 冷やかす seems to have ...
8
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1answer
245 views

What is the exact definition of 泥棒?

In English: a burglar is usually associated with someone who breaks into a house (victim is usually unaware during the burglary) a robber is usually associated with that person who uses weapons and ...
8
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2answers
286 views

“Grammatically-correct” particle-less phrases/sayings

I know that within an informal/familiar setting, people often leave out particles. Whether or not this is grammatically correct I'm not positive, but for the sake of this question, I'll say that it's ...
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2answers
869 views

How accurately can 使い be translated as “angel”?

On jisho.org, 使い is translated with words such as "errand", and the same holds true on translate.google.com. Neither site is offering "angel" as a suggestion. Yet in Matthew 1:20, the phrase:     ...
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3answers
271 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
380 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? ...
7
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3answers
659 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 ...
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2answers
269 views

Is 見物{みもの} derogatory?

To say something is a 見物, does it have a derogatory nuance like we are making fun of that person / that thing? If so, is it derogatory to the extent that even if I intended it as a fun joke it seems ...
7
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3answers
342 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
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2answers
135 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
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1answer
1k 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
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2answers
215 views

How is the Kanji of 口実 related to the meaning?

口実 noun: excuse;  pretext Literally translated it seems to mean mouth-truth. Most excuses seem to avoid the truth, so what is the logic here?
7
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4answers
392 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 ...
7
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2answers
398 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, ...
7
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2answers
393 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 ...
7
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1answer
114 views

Usage of 腱 vs 筋

What is the difference between the following characters: 腱 vs 筋 (すじ) Both translate to tendon (as in the connective tissue between muscles and bones)
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3answers
569 views

低い鼻 vs 短い鼻 and 高い鼻 vs 長い鼻 ?

After reading this thread: When would you use 低い vs 短い, I'd just thought of something. I once heard that a long nose (witch / Pinocchio) is called 高い鼻 and not 長い鼻 whereas the opposite (short nose) is ...
7
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2answers
204 views

Origin/etymology of こころ~ words

There are three unique words that begin with こころ~: 快い (こころよい)、 試みる (こころみる)、 志 (こころざし) What is the origin of these words in relation to "heart/spirit/mind", if any??? Or is this just something ...
7
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2answers
434 views

What is the difference between 特殊 and 特別?

I've got two questions. Firstly, what is the difference between 特殊 tokushu and 特別 tokubetsu? Secondly, is it true that all these grammar forms are correct: 特別な tokubetsu na + [noun] 特殊な tokushu na ...
7
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2answers
239 views

What is the etymology of the word バレる?

What is the etymology of the word バレる, and why is it often written with katakana? ばれる(P); バレる (v1,vi) to leak out (a secret); to be exposed (a lie, improper behaviour, etc.) (behavior) ...
7
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2answers
337 views

What's the difference between “巻寿司” (makizushi), “海苔巻き” (norimaki), and “巻物” (makimono)?

It seems there are three words for the same Japanese food item, a kind of "sushi in a long roll": "巻寿司" (makizushi) "海苔巻き" (norimaki) "巻物" (makimono) Are they all identical / synonyms? Do they ...
7
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1answer
218 views

Oceans — Thick or Big?

Straightforward question. The Pacific Ocean is 太平洋【たい・へい・よう】 and the Atlantic Ocean is 大西洋【たい・せい・よう】. What was the reasoning in using a different character for the たい in each? And why 太 for Pacific ...
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1answer
140 views

What's the difference between まだ and いまだ(に)?

My intuition wants to believe that いまだに is more formal, but all the examples I've seen do not indicate that. Are they freely interchangeable? Can't say I've ever heard いまだに in spoken context (or ...
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2answers
231 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 ...
7
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1answer
245 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
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1answer
119 views

I can't find a translation for 言やいー

I would very much appreciate it if someone could tell me what 言やいー refers to. All I know is that 言 has something to do with speaking or words, but that alone doesn't help. Is it slang? The entire ...
7
votes
1answer
167 views

What's the difference between 平行 and 並行?

They both seem to mean "parallel". In my プログレッシブ dictionary, it seems to point to the former being the more mathematical sense of the definition (two co-planar, non-intersecting lines), while the ...
7
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1answer
555 views

Why does 一体 mean “what the heck?”?

the definition for 一体【いったい】: Adverb : ...the heck (e.g. "what the heck?");  ...in the world (e.g. "why in the world?");  ...on earth (e.g. "who on earth?"); —Before an interrogative, forms ...
7
votes
1answer
200 views

What does 意外と mean?

I heard the expression [意]{い}[外]{がい}といい in a video. I know that 意外に expresses something you didn't expect: 意外においしいよ。 It's delicous! (and I didn't expect that) Why did I hear 意外と instead of ...
7
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1answer
166 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.
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2answers
895 views

何歳 , いくつ ,年齢 , ご年

何歳ですか? いくつですか? 年齢は? お年は? I think all are question sentences of "How old are you?" which are they differ?what are most poilte form??
7
votes
1answer
184 views

When and how to use 来る 【きたる】

Of course 来る is most often read as くる. However, it can also be read as きたる. Is きたる mostly an archaic reading? Does it carry a different, or any additional meanings?? When are "appropriate" ...
7
votes
2answers
139 views

How to use 対応 correctly

I see 対応(たいおう) quite often, but I can't seem to grasp exactly what this word means or how to use it properly. Checking a dictionary I get about 5 different definitions, all quite different from one ...