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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7
votes
4answers
892 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
201 views

How does 話{はなし}が噛{か}み合{あ}わない work?

I saw this phrase discussed on esaura.cc 話が噛み合わない 'There's a gap in their conversation.' 'They can't meet on common ground.' 'They have been at odds with each other.' 'They have not been ...
2
votes
2answers
248 views

How do you express “In exchange/In return”?

I am trying to figure this out, but online searches don't seem to be helping. In particular what I'm looking for is something like "In exchange for helping you, please help me" or put more simply "In ...
8
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
145 views

Interrogative for only two choices?

This is a quick one. I read in the dictionary that どれ is only supposed to be used when there are three or more choices. What word should I use if I have only two choices?
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Did the Japanese have a word for surrender before WWII?

I had always thought that the Japanese didn't have a word for surrender before WWII. It seemed to be plausible given their culture. However, I can't seem to find any solid evidence of this. Is it just ...
5
votes
2answers
290 views

Difference between 間【あいだ】 and 間【ま】

What is the difference between the words 間【あいだ】 and 間【ま】 ? Both seem to have the basic meaning space or time interval.
3
votes
2answers
147 views

What is the ど in やけど?

Given that やけど means "burn", it seems likely that the やけ part is 焼け. What about the ど, though? (The kanji for やけど - i.e. 火傷 - don't help, because those characters are obviously 当て字, and would ...
3
votes
2answers
111 views

In technical usage, is there any difference between 間投詞 and 感動詞?

デジタル大辞泉 gives the following definition of 間投詞: 《interjection》「感動詞」に同じ。 It also gives the following definition of 感動詞 (emphasis added): ...
4
votes
1answer
185 views

Why are 来る and する irregular?

I know that there are more irregular verbs than just this, but their changes are mostly euphonic and not really of any interest to me. What I would like to know is why 来る and する have developed the way ...
5
votes
3answers
198 views

What's the relationship between 'e' and 'wa' in some words?

Can someone explain how 'e' and 'wa' are related in some words / 音便? Presumably the 'e' was originally the obsolete ゑ since it's in the ワ行. Some examples: 上(うえ) ←→ 上着(うわ・ぎ) 声(こえ) ←→ ...
2
votes
2answers
298 views

Please help me understand [予習]{よ・しゅう}

tl;dr The word 予習 is strange to me. Is its usage related to cultural difference? Does the user's knowledge of the material have something to do with it? I've always had trouble understanding ...
4
votes
1answer
122 views

What's the difference between 降{ふ}る and 落{お}ちる?

Things I've seen go with 降{ふ}る are rain, snow and leaves, e.g. 雪が降る。 I'm thinking 降る is used for small and light things. So, perhaps 'feathers' could be used like so 羽が降る, but apples would be ...
8
votes
3answers
856 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
278 views

I am struggling with the sometimes conflicting uses of 先

Rikaisama's definition of 先 includes meanings like previous; prior; former; some time ago. However it also includes meanings such as front; ahead; the future; destination. I am struggling to make ...
6
votes
2answers
257 views

What may be the difference between the usage of チャンス and 機会 ?

What may be the difference between the usage of チャンス and 機会 ? For example: 1) これは機会だぜ! 2) これはチャンスだぜ!
5
votes
2answers
119 views

センスで嗅覚も研ぎ澄ます - “sense of sense of smell?” Why use センス?

In the Zelda video game guidebook I am translating there is a part of the game where you transform into a wolf and have to rely on your senses. The title of this section of the guidebook is ...
6
votes
2answers
181 views

What is the origin of ポイ as in “タバコのポイ”?

I was trying to see how much of the writing on the signs in the park I could make sense of today and found something of interest. A sign stating what not to do in the park covered not littering and ...
2
votes
1answer
161 views

Is there a term for words that share the same kana spelling?

I would like to know if there is a word (in either Japanese or English) that describes pairs of words that are spelled the same in kana. For example, 橋 and 箸 would be "homo-kana" words, because they ...
4
votes
2answers
595 views

What is the difference between んじゃない and んだ?

I came across the following sentence: 「…あの犯行予告、俺がやったんじゃないんだけどな。」 I also have English subtitles which translate this phrase as: "I wasn't the one who issued that threat, but no matter." What's the ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

てらんない- can't bear to do ~ [closed]

When we use ていられない, it means that we don't bother or care to do something. アさん)ああ、危なくて見てらんない! イさん) もう黙っていらんない。注意しよう。 A) Oh no, I can't bear to see him doing dangerous things. B) me too, I ...
4
votes
1answer
172 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
93 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
519 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
112 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
982 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
104 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
178 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
95 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
114 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
285 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
787 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
128 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
78 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
344 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
556 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
274 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?
6
votes
1answer
321 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
319 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
445 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
196 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
180 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
121 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
97 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
277 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
902 views

What is the most common word in Japanese?

What is the most common word in Japanese?