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
2answers
165 views

Analysis of もしかして (perhaps)?

I'm hearing this word a lot in Japanese drama and anime. What is the literal meaning of it? Does it have a Kanji form? What root(s) does it contain (I think there is a する in the second half of it? ...
8
votes
2answers
250 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?
10
votes
2answers
236 views

What is the difference between 首相 and 総理?

I learned 総{そう}理{り} as the word for Prime Minister, but I've recently learned that 首{しゅ}相{しょう} is also used. Is there a difference in usage or meaning? Is one more polite than the other?
8
votes
1answer
273 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
193 views

Using だということ to mean “that”

I was helping to translate this passage on the website Lang-8.com: Lang-8をやって良かった点は、どんな間違いをしても恥をかかないようになったという点と、ネイティブの人でも英語を話すときに同じような間違いをするんだということに気付いた点です。 The great point about having used ...
1
vote
1answer
186 views

Is there a word or phrase for “run around”?

I'd like to know if there is a phrase similar to the English phrase of "running around". To explain more clearly, it should mean to be able to go out freely and do whatever one like's without being ...
2
votes
3answers
331 views

Translation of 出証意 and 長官殿

These are from a patent related document and I can't understand very well. They are used like these: 1) 特許庁長官殿 2) 出証意2012 Can anyone help me?
4
votes
1answer
201 views

What is the meaning of ぶさかわ?

I was talking to my language partner and she mentioned ぶさかわ being used in situations when you want to describe something not pretty but nice. Apparently the word is relatively new and was first used ...
2
votes
1answer
371 views

Why does 古希 / こき mean 70 years old?

I found out that 古希 / こき can mean a 70 year old person, or the occasion of turning 70 years old. Apparently its etymology derives from an ancient song where this line occurs:七十古希 【しちじゅうこき】 which means ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Native word for “pen”

Is there a native, non-loanword for "pen" (the writing instrument)? Or is there only 「ペン」? There is one for "pencil" (鉛筆), one for "ruler" (定規), one for "paper" (紙) and even though the one for ...
3
votes
1answer
561 views

What are the rules for saying “made of [blank]”

Take these words for example: 木{もく}造{ぞう}: made of wood; wooden and 金{きん}製{せい}: made of gold I have been under the impression that -製 is used for where an item has been manufactured ...
4
votes
1answer
180 views

Questions on the figurative meaning of 食って掛かる

If 食って掛かる is one word meaning "to lash out at someone" or perhaps closer in figurative language, "to bite someone's head off," how should I think of the 掛かる? If I want to understand the logistics ...
7
votes
1answer
287 views

What is the literal meaning of  ”いいかげんにしろ!”?

Some translations for the expression いいかげんにしろ! are: that's enough!;  cut it out!;  get a life! If the correct kanji of this expression is 好い加減, what is the literal meaning of both 好い and 加減 in ...
7
votes
2answers
190 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
533 views

What is the difference between 記憶【きおく】 and 思【おも】い出【で】?

Is there any difference between the meanings or connotations of 記憶 and 思い出? I started thinking about this after listening to the song 「タイムマシーン」 or "Time Machine" by 少女時代, where these two lines occur ...
17
votes
1answer
746 views

What is the difference between いえ and うち?

I am trying to understand the difference between using いえ and うち. I originally drew the conclusion that うち is used for your own house and いえ for others' houses, but my Japanese teacher said that this ...
6
votes
2answers
269 views

Why are there two words 算数 and 数学 representing different fields?

Why are different words 算数 and 数学 used for mathematics at and after elementary school? I understand that the quality is different in that, in the former, the method of solving an equation is usually ...
4
votes
1answer
103 views

Why does 音物【いんもつ】 contain 音?

When looking up the definition of 音物 (a present or a bribe), I thought it was very odd that it contained the kanji 音. I can't think of what 音 (sound) could have to do with presents or bribes. Is ...
2
votes
2answers
214 views

Could someone explain the ironic(?) use of よくいうよ?

Dainichi was kind enough to tell me that よくいうよ means "to shamelessly say something you should be ashamed to say." On spacealc, this explanation and translation is provided: よく言うよ。 What are you ...
1
vote
1answer
175 views

Is 死ぬ the only verb ending in -ぬ? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Plain verbs that end with ぬ other than 死ぬ 死ぬ{しぬ} is the only verb that I know that is ending in -ぬ. So, are there any other verbs ending in -ぬ?
3
votes
3answers
291 views

善くも as opposed to よく

I found this line in the song,”三年目の浮気”: よくいうよ 惚れたお前の負けだよ How can you say that...you fell for me and lost At first I thought it was the よく meaning often, but someone told me it was an ...
6
votes
3answers
281 views

Why does 腰抜け mean coward?

Why does 腰抜け mean coward? I see 腰 (waist) + 抜 (missing/losing) = 腰抜け (coward), but I fail to see how they add up.
1
vote
1answer
140 views

Differences between 出るand 去る when expressing someone leaving

When expressing "to leave," as in "I left the store," or "I can leave the country," is there a difference in nuance or meaning between the verbs 出る and 去る? まあ、少なくとも、この国を出ることはできるな。 Well, at ...
1
vote
1answer
174 views

The etymology of the word バックシャン

What is the etymology of the word バックシャン? I understand it commonly refers to a woman beautiful only from behind. See this definition- 女性のうしろ姿が均整がとれて美しいこと。また、その女性。多く、前から見ると失望するような 場合にいう。 I ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

What is the etymology of どんちゃん騒ぎ?

WWWJDIC defines it as this: どんちゃん騒ぎ【さわ】 (n) merrymaking; high jinks; spree 観光客は町中飲み歩いてどんちゃん騒ぎをした。 The tourists painted the whole town red What is the etymology of this word? Is it in common ...
3
votes
1answer
156 views

difference between やかましい and そうぞうしい

these two words came up when I was looking at a vocabulary list that I'm supposed to study. I'm having trouble with understanding the difference and the usage of the words. If possible would someone ...
2
votes
2answers
198 views

Different versions of より?

Here is one definition for より: より (adv,prt) (1) from; out of; since; at; (2) than; (3) other than; except; but; (4) more; I see that one of the definitions of this word is "more". Is より一層 a ...
8
votes
3answers
290 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
302 views

Rare/Obsolete verb forms

I have noticed that some verbs have this "rare" or old form that is no longer used much (if at all). Here are some examples. おそる: おそるべき者 → One who is feared ほむ: ほむべきお方【かた】 → Seen often in my ...
2
votes
1answer
112 views

What is a 両県 (as seen in newspapers)?

I've seen this a couple of times in newspapers. For example: ....は山口、広島両県の.... I can't find it in any dictionary. My gut feeling is that it indicates a sort of union between the two prefectures, ...
3
votes
2answers
199 views

“俺が一番” vs “俺が最高”

I was reading through " How do I say "I am the best" ? の,は or が and 私 or 俺? ", and I was wondering what's the difference between "俺が一番" and "俺が最高"? From what I know, both roughly equates to ...
4
votes
1answer
284 views

から ending a sentence

I've seen this in a few texts now and since it's appeared with some frequency I thought to post the question here. I tried searching online but came up with no real conclusions. ありませんから or plain form ...
5
votes
3answers
293 views

Is タオル used for the towels used at onsen?

onsenjapan.net claims that タオル is used for "towel", presumably the large one. When I asked a staff member at Odeo onsen "これ は 何 ですか?" while indicating the large towel I was holding, the staff member ...
6
votes
1answer
575 views

“Your sniffling is driving me crazy!”

There are people in Japan who seem to think nothing of sniffling their nose indefinitely as they sit in a coffee shop, in an office, on a train, or anywhere with other people around. Sometimes ...
4
votes
1answer
170 views

Can もはや also mean “or rather” or “actually”?

I heard this sentence pattern watching an anime (where A and B have similar meanings, but B is much stronger): ....[description A] いや、もはや [description B]と言っていい。 I looked up もはや expecting a ...
10
votes
3answers
812 views

How can you figure out whether 鍵【かぎ】 means “lock” or “key”?

Recently, I forgot whether 鍵【かぎ】 meant lock or key, so I looked it up quickly on my phone's dictionary... And then I found out that it actually means both. What are the best ways to figure out if ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

How is the “のです” working here?

目立つ事を恐れ、一緒でなければいけないという日本人が確実に減ってきているのです。 The strong feelings that Japanese have of being afraid of standing out and everybody having to do things together are starting to become less ...
-2
votes
1answer
188 views

What is the difference between 希望(きぼう)and 気持ち(きもち)?

I am new to learning the Japanese language. I am a bit confused about the difference between 希望{きぼう} and 気持{きも}ち. Can someone please explain the difference between them and show how to use them in a ...
2
votes
1answer
125 views

What would be a proper definition and adequate natural translation for the term 替え歌王?

My friend wrote this sentence about these videos: "これは日本の替え歌王だよ。" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtjxrf2Vg7g&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEeELyiLDKg I'm not ...
4
votes
1answer
137 views

Difference between 妬【ねた】ましい and 羨【うらや】ましい

Considering "How to define 羨ましい?", it does not seem that 羨【うらや】ましい conveys a strong intensity of jealousy. How does 妬【ねた】ましい compare to 羨【うらや】ましい then? Does 妬【ねた】ましい convey a stronger sense of ...
8
votes
2answers
331 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
285 views

What is the best word to use to mean “to take long-term a break (i.e. from school)”?

Just to add some context to this question: I graduated with a B.A. last June, and am currently taking a two-year break from education to work off some of the inordinate amount of debt I accumulated in ...
10
votes
2answers
367 views

“看護師” vs. “看護士”

Good afternoon all, I was wondering is it true that "看護師" is a gender-neutral way of referring to a "nurse", Whereas "看護婦" implies that it is a girl, And "看護士" implies that it is a guy? ...
7
votes
3answers
397 views

Evil twins and other tropes

I was trying to talk about films and (marvel) comics the other day, and stumbled upon "evil twin". Sure, I can translate it verbatim, but that usually works badly for such fixed expressions. And then ...
6
votes
1answer
332 views

Understanding “よりを戻す” and “止めておこう”

I don't think us getting together tonight is such a good idea. やっぱり今夜、よりを戻すのは止めておこう。 I would like to understand this sentence better, specifically the (idiomatic?) expression, "よりを戻す." I ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

How do I spell “So! So! So! So! So!”?

I've heard people say "So! So! So! So! So!" (or possibly "Sou! Sou! Sou!" or maybe using "z" instead of "s" - I'm bad at hearing) when laughing in agreement. When middle-aged women speak Japanese ...
6
votes
3answers
252 views

Does 前提に mean “to require”?

I recently came across the expression 前提に: feature1はfeature2と同じく各コンテンツに分類用の識別子を埋め込む機能ですが、統制を重視したユースケースを前提に設計されているため柔軟さに欠けます。 'feature1, just like feature2, is a way to embed classification into ...
3
votes
1answer
169 views

Is メリー mainly used in the set phrase メリークリスマス?

Is the gairaigo メリー mainly used in the set phrase メリークリスマス (Merry Christmas!) or can it be used without the クリスマス to mean "merry", such as 私はメリーです to say "I am feeling merry"? There's also メリーゴーランド ...
6
votes
1answer
337 views

Meaning of -化 in context

I don't understand what the -化 suffix in the following sentence means for a word like カリスマ, or why fearing it can lead to early retirement. Can anyone shine some light? ...
5
votes
1answer
171 views

しゅうと/シュート - The great equalizer

I was watching the movie Mr. Baseball the other day. Several times during the movie they talk about しゅうと which they describe as "the great equalizer". (Could possibly be しゅうとう, but their dialog does ...