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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1answer
254 views

What's the difference between 電光石火【でんこうせっか】 and 疾風迅雷【しっぷうじんらい】

They both seem to mean "quick as lightning". What are the nuances between them? In what sort of context would they be used? Are they interchangeable? etc.
9
votes
1answer
767 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) ...
9
votes
1answer
458 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
354 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?
9
votes
1answer
183 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 ...
9
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2answers
328 views

Terms for Japanese/Western name order

Does anybody know of a standard term to describe Japanese and Western name orders (for example, when filling a form): John Somelastname ← "Western name order" Somelastname John ← "Japanese ...
9
votes
1answer
467 views

Small towels to wipe sweat off

I was in Japan recently and am trying to remember the name for a small towel the Japanese may use to wipe the sweat off their faces in the summer. I was hoping to buy one for myself in the U.S. Do ...
9
votes
1answer
202 views

Using くれる for doing something bad

Today I heard the phrase なんてことしてくれた, as in: 君!なんてことしてくれたんだ! which I learned means "Look what you've done". I thought くれる was only used when someone does something nice for you. Is this just a ...
9
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1answer
303 views

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

Many emails received from Japanese companies contains characters-based dingbat-style ornament like this: ■□■□■□──────────────────────────── blablablablablablablabla ...
8
votes
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 ...
8
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3answers
881 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 ...
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3answers
489 views

Why is the meaning of人一倍 opposite of what it seems to say?

This could be just me, but at first glance the word (phrase?) 人一倍 looks like it would mean "one's own share of the work". I assumed 人 to mean one person, and 一倍 means "one share, one amount". I was a ...
8
votes
2answers
263 views

What is the difference between 意味 and 意義?

I have learned (意味) and (意義)as "meaning". I am confused these two words. Are they same or is there any difference in usage?
8
votes
3answers
392 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
268 views

Questions on the (underlying) meaning of the word お化け

If ばけもの / ばけもん / お化け can, in general, be understood to mean ghost/apparition/monster, what is the connection to the meaning of 化け, meaning "transform?" (or "transforming one's appearance") Is it ...
8
votes
2answers
396 views

Is 君 (きみ) obsolete as a way to call your romantic partner?

In many love songs, the singer calls their partner 君 (きみ). But is this used by couples in real life, as of 2013? Should this word be considered obsolete, or is it still seeing some use outside of the ...
8
votes
2answers
380 views

“Arigatō” and “gozaimasu” combined into a single word?

In Japan for three years, and I've noticed that the locals often sound like they're combining the two words "arigatō" and "gozaimasu" into a single word, "arigatōzaimasu". Am I hearing things ...
8
votes
2answers
204 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
207 views

What is the difference between 「一応」and 「一時的に」

I wrote the sentence: 一応、私の日本人妻の親と同居しています。 The appropriate word to use is 「一時的に」as suggested by a native speaker. However, when I asked the difference between the two words, I wasn't given an ...
8
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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 ...
8
votes
1answer
688 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
232 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" ...
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4answers
458 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
345 views

How difficult is it for Japanese to distinguish between 五日【いつか】 and 何時か【いつか】 in spoken contexts?

There are times when both 五日 (5th day of the month) and 何時か (someday) could be used I think. Does this become a minor problem for Japanese when speaking (no kanji to guide), or do they speak in some ...
8
votes
2answers
261 views

what's the difference between 余地 and よゆう?

I have been informed that よゆう is to do with temporal or physical room, while 余地 has to do with emotional room, but I might have misunderstood the explanation.
8
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2answers
249 views

What is the difference between all the weather words: 気象{きしょう}, 天気{てんき} and 天候{てんこう}?

Dictionary (at least Jisho and WWWJDIC) defines them as: 気象{きしょう} = weather, climate 天気{てんき} = weather, the elements 天候{てんこう} = weather They all have quite similar definitions, so I don't quite ...
8
votes
1answer
211 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
votes
1answer
201 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
votes
1answer
448 views

Why is 「人口」 used to denote population?

I'm just curious at the appearance of 「口」 that makes this word mean "population". Why should it be 「口」 as opposed to any other body part or anything else? Is there a definitive reason or story ...
8
votes
3answers
698 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 ...
8
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1answer
217 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, ...
8
votes
2answers
332 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
258 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
votes
1answer
236 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
321 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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2answers
347 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
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2answers
150 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 ...
8
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1answer
220 views

The difference between 書店 and 本屋

What is the difference between: 書店 and 本屋 Are there any specific places where you can use one over the other? Or is it simply like the English Bookstore/Bookshop, and are perfectly interchangeable? ...
8
votes
1answer
86 views

How is 発行 different from 刊行?

Also, how does 発刊 fit into all of this? Is it that 発行 can be used for magazines, newspapers and books while 刊行 can't be used for newspapers?
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votes
2answers
221 views

Does バラの寝床 come directly from the English expression “bed of roses”?

I came across this phrase in a Haruki Murakami short story, and I was wondering if this is just a literal translation of the English phrase? I tried googling the Japanese phrase, but I could only ...
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votes
2answers
439 views

Earnest and serious: when should each be used?

I've noticed there's a lot of overlap between the following words meaning "earnest" or "serious" when talking about a person: まじ 真面目{まじめ} 真剣{しんけん} 本気{ほんき} 正気{しょうき}: (This word really means "sane" I ...
8
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1answer
115 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
votes
1answer
864 views

To take responsibility: 責任を 取る・負う・持つ

What are the nuances between these three verbs when paired with 責任? I understand they all mean "to take responsibility", but are they interchangeable, etc? 責任を取る 責任を負う 責任を持つ 負う's definition says ...
8
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1answer
786 views

What is the most common usage and meaning of もったいない?

もったいない (勿体無い)(勿体ない) can mean "what a waste!" / "too good". Apparently it is originally (?) a buddhist term meaning “The essence or quality of the thing does not exist,” and supposedly has been ...
8
votes
2answers
410 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
284 views

What's the difference between 水 and 湯

I start by saying that I'm a beginner in Japanese and maybe my question will seem obvious to you. I've been told by Japanese people that there's a difference between 水 and 湯. I understand that 湯 ...
7
votes
2answers
990 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:     ...