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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

8
votes
2answers
428 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
481 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
233 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.
8
votes
1answer
98 views

What is the meaning of 両岸 in this context?

I was reading a news article but I am not sure what 両岸 means in this context. 中台の間では経済や人的(てき)交流が進んでいるとしたうえで、両岸の関係は過去66年間で最も平和的な状態にある. Dictionary search result is as follows: りょうがん 両岸 ...
8
votes
2answers
229 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
votes
1answer
1k 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
288 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" ...
8
votes
1answer
384 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
279 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
votes
1answer
471 views

Use of する to describe one's colour

From Japanesepod101: 象は灰色をしている。 The elephant is gray. The meaning of the sentence is not in doubt but I've been trying to figure how する is being used here. Checking a dictionary, definition ...
8
votes
1answer
220 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
661 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
1answer
230 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
365 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
votes
1answer
316 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" ...
8
votes
2answers
302 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
365 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
167 views

What is the name of the wooden hook support on the walls of traditional Japanese rooms?

Traditional (and even not-so-traditional) Japanese rooms have wooden panels running along the walls, about 1m from the ceiling. They are mainly used to affix hooks, to which clothes hangers, ...
8
votes
1answer
212 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
344 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
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
168 views

Do the various verbs pronounced つく differ in intonation?

Related: Dissecting つく verbs There are many verbs which are pronounced つく, and I was simply wondering: Do their intonation patterns differ? If so, what are the intonation patterns of the most ...
8
votes
1answer
189 views

Nuance between いっとき and いちじ as a pronunciation of 一時

I am writing a flashcards deck to memorize Minato-ku's list of 防災-related words. Excerpt: 一時集合場所 いっときしゅうごうばしょ Temporary meeting places 一時滞在施設 いちじたいざいしせつ   Temporary stay facilities As you see, ...
8
votes
2answers
229 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
120 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
1k 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
votes
1answer
137 views

The expressions 後へ引く and 後を引く

What is the logic behind the similar sounding expressions 後へ引く and 後を引く? Are they idioms? Apple dictionary lists these examples: 後へ引く もう後へは引けない 'It's too late to turn back now.' 'We're in ...
8
votes
1answer
973 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
456 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
648 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
1k 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: ...
7
votes
3answers
512 views

How to negate “べき”? (ie. “should not”)

「食{た}べる」 can be negated as 「食べない」. 「美{うつく}しい」 can be negated as 「美しくない」. etc. etc. Can you negate 「べき」as in: 「明日は受験なので、勉強するべきです。」(Since you are taking a test tomorrow, you should study.) ...
7
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
571 views

What does 思いっきりどうぞ mean?

I heard this phrase a few times but I still can't grasp its meaning. Does it mean, "as much as you would like"?
7
votes
4answers
1k 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
3answers
750 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
votes
2answers
297 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
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
744 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
votes
3answers
188 views

Is there an equivalent of 英会話 for the Japanese language?

I tried to quickly Google and search for this here, but couldn't find anything relevant. Basically I want to know whether there is any common word for Japanese conversation; e.g. in the context of ...
7
votes
2answers
411 views

What would be the most apt word in kanji, for “Animal world”?

Okay, that may sound a little confusing, and no, not looking for the name of a zoo or theme park here XD Essentially, simply put, I'm writing a novel, and for that, building a world around it. Yes, ...
7
votes
2answers
366 views

For body: 身体 or 体

体{からだ} and 身体{からだ} seem to be used interchangeably, is there a nuance difference between them?
7
votes
2answers
353 views

Is くろじん a word?

I used to call black people くろじん, either because I mistakenly read 黒人{こくじん} as such or because I heard it somewhere (or both), until I was told by another Japanese learner that こくじん is more ...
7
votes
2answers
558 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
votes
2answers
285 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
votes
2answers
360 views

Is the grammar of 心の冷たい人 idiomatic?

The phrase 心の冷たい人 (which is given by Japanese-English dictionary on OS X) looks wrong to me, but given that it's an example in a respected dictionary and confirmed by tens of thousands of Google hits, ...
7
votes
1answer
144 views

What does 八 have to do with [八つ当たり]【やつあたり】?

For the longest time, I had never seen yatsuatari written down. I always figured it was written 奴当たり, which I figured would have been derived from 「あの奴に当たる」 or something. Imagine my surprise when I ...
7
votes
2answers
313 views

私は米国人です vs 私はアメリカ人です

They both mean I am an American but which is preferable in everyday speech and in writing, and why? Is the former more formal than the latter?
7
votes
2answers
303 views

What is “koto” used for?

I know "koto" means thing, but I've seen it used like this in my Self-Study Japanese book: Nihon no koto ga yoku wakarimasu ka. and Chiimu no koto o kangaete imasshita Does this mean Japan's thing ...
7
votes
2answers
246 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?