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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19
votes
4answers
1k views

Are there words so bad that they aren't allowed on television?

Warning: We're all adults here, but just in case, this question may contain words, in both Japanese and English, that some may not like to read. A long time ago, when I was working with a translator, ...
6
votes
1answer
781 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
474 views

How to use ~に同意する to agree or disagree with a person?

A couple of times I've tried to say "I agree with..." or "he agrees with..." but I don't know whether I'm using 同意{どうい}する correctly. In what ways should に同意{どうい}している be used? Also, which particles ...
7
votes
1answer
244 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
6
votes
4answers
371 views

does anyone know of any o-words or go-words which are absolutely neutral?

Does anyone know of any o-words or go-words which are absolutely neutral (have no nuances of being polite / courteous / respectful / womanly / cute etc etc)? The only ones I'm aware of currently is ...
4
votes
3answers
285 views

What makes に基づいて instead of に応じて the correct choice for this question?

I'm working on some example questions from my grammar textbook. One of them I listed below:  税金はこの表(  )計算されています。  ア)につれて イ)に応じて ウ)に比べて エ)に基づいて I'm unsure why 「に基づいて」is the only correct ...
13
votes
3answers
810 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
2answers
2k views

How can I improve my Japanese vocabulary, grammar, and listening skills? [closed]

I consider myself at a lower intermediate level. I want to improve my Japanese vocabulary and grammar in order to expand my reading and speaking skills. I know enough Japanese to get around and have a ...
12
votes
4answers
427 views

What determines whether a word gets a kanji compound or katakana?

I read electronics/computing articles, and I find an incredible amount of terms are written either in kanji (almost similar to Chinese) or katakana. There are times when it's confusing as to know why. ...
11
votes
2answers
265 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 ...
7
votes
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, ...
5
votes
1answer
307 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
247 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
440 views

How do 自他 triplets of related verbs work?

I thought this had been asked before (possibly by me), but I couldn't find it. I'm wondering why for certain verbs/words, instead of just a 自他 pair, there is a triplet (or possibly more) where two of ...
18
votes
2answers
496 views

Can the suffix -人 be used to express heritage?

In English, if I want to talk about my Irish heritage, I would say "I'm Irish". I have an American passport, and I've never set foot in Ireland, but I still consider myself Irish. Both sides of my ...
12
votes
2answers
351 views

Different conventions for animal meat

After reading this awesome question, I got to thinking about different animal meat. Upon researching a little, there seems to be different conventions in referring to different meats. Using 訓読み ...
10
votes
1answer
384 views

What is the meaning/usage of いざ?

Will someone please explain what this word いざ means? I've found several definitions, but I'm very unclear on what it really means and its usage. I've heard it mostly in the following ways: ...
10
votes
2answers
477 views

“Should” in Japanese

The word "should" in English has these uses when not used as a question: To express the expectation of the speaker (Probabilistic reasoning). The train should arrive in 10 minutes. To express a ...
7
votes
1answer
225 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
252 views

Questions about ありたい

心がいつも美しくありたいです I want my heart to always be beautiful. 心がいつも美しくして欲しいです (Incorrect) 心がいつも美しくなりたいです I want my heart to always be beautiful.(?) My Japanese friend wrote the ...
5
votes
2answers
340 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
737 views

What's the difference between いいえ and English's “no”?

In "Japanese for Busy People I" page 2 (kana or romaji edition) it says that いいえ is 'virtually the same as "no"'. It sounds like there are some differences, but they want to omit mentioning them for ...
8
votes
2answers
284 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
218 views

「悪気があっての答え」 vs 「悪気がある答え」

Hi all I was wondering what is the difference between these two sentences: 「決して悪気があっての回答ではないです。」 「決して悪気がある回答ではないです。」 I can't really make out the gist of the meaning of 「あっての」. WWWJDIC's ...
8
votes
3answers
340 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
2answers
377 views

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう?

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう ? For example, in this sentence 10人中3人はビデオを持っている which pronunciation should we use? What about this: そのピアニストの演奏中、彼らは一心に耳を傾けた。
6
votes
1answer
312 views

What does かの日 mean?

In my Japanese Bible, I've seen several passages that use the phrase かの日. Here are a couple. ...
5
votes
2answers
225 views

Expressing neighborhood in Japanese

Something I have often stumbled on is the expression of "neighborhood" in Japanese. For most uses I find that 近所 works well. However, this usually seems to refer to a closer proximity than one would ...
4
votes
2answers
368 views

Using 全然 with a positive pejorative

So far, I know that in proper speech, 全然 should be used with negative verbs such as 全然出来ません or in expressions such as 全然だめ or 全然違う. I am curious about the second type of usage. In that case, 全然 is ...
4
votes
1answer
249 views

What does で分かる mean?

I have a hard time understanding the use of でわかる. I'm guessing that it doesn't just simply mean that "something is understood". Instead I wonder if it means that "something was realized"? I read the ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

“Dive” = “fly into”?

The words 飛ぶ and 跳ぶ are both read as とぶ, the former meaning "to fly" and the latter meaning "to jump" (generally; don't know if they are interchangeable at all). The compound-verb suffix 〜込【こ】む means ...
4
votes
1answer
422 views

Difference between 自分 and 自分自身 and how to reflect their difference in English

Consider: 自分について書きたいことがあります。 = There are times that I want to write about myself (lit: things concerning me) 自分自身について書きたいことがあります。 What is their difference? I think the second sentence ...
8
votes
2answers
377 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 ...
8
votes
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 ...
7
votes
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
votes
2answers
134 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. ...
6
votes
2answers
154 views

Questions on the word シクシク

I understand that the word シクシク is 擬声語/giseigo/onomatopoeia equivalent to the English "boo-hoo/boo-hoo-hoo." 恐怖でシクシク泣く To whimper in fear 彼女はボーイフレンドに捨てられた時、あまりの惨めさにシクシクと泣いた。 She wailed in misery ...
6
votes
1answer
146 views

What is the difference between 口元 and 口?

When talking about the body part (not, for example, entrances/exits), what is the difference between these two words. Based on looking at these two pages (for 口 and 口元) I'm guessing that the ...
5
votes
3answers
219 views

Why use 数年 in あれから10数年?

My question is on 「あれから10数年」. My understanding is that this translates to roughly, "It's been 10 years since then." The dictionary says「数年」 means "several years" or "a number of years". How does ...
5
votes
1answer
205 views

パソコンが 得意だ/わかる/上手だ

So I was studying through this book called 日本語生中継 and there was this question where you're supposed to choose the inappropriate word among others. And I got stuck at this sentence: ...
5
votes
1answer
185 views

The logic behind “くすぐったい”

I am interested in the literal meaning of くすぐったい. If くすぐったい is equivalent to the English expression, "That tickles!" (said by someone being tickled), what is the literal meaning of this word? If it is ...
5
votes
3answers
246 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
147 views

Questions about 背負う

背負う is pronounced せおう, but many dictionaries also list a second pronunciation as しょう. I've never heard it pronounced as しょう in practice. In what situations does it have this pronunciation? Is ...
4
votes
1answer
242 views

Is there a Japanese word for “finding the pleasantest point of an interior”?

I recently read a quote from architect Sverre Fehn that stated: "Japan has a word for finding the pleasantest point in an interior..." I was wondering if anyone might know what this word is. Thanks ...
3
votes
4answers
411 views

How do I write “Hard Work and Smart Work”?

I want to write an essay, the title is "Difference between Hard Work and Smart Work". I am trying to search japanese words to express those Hard Work and Smart Work. I wrote "重労働とスマートな仕事の相違点".Would ...
3
votes
3answers
267 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
164 views

What are the particular words for the first iteration of things?

Does anyone know the sorts of items for whose first iteration Japanese people have special names? The only example I can remember at the moment is for the first leader or, to be precise, (and reveal ...
3
votes
2answers
550 views

How do I convey “As you all know”?

Having been trying to write a "sakubun", I must say that I had some trouble to find a reliable translation for the phrase "as you all know" such as: As you all know, the education system in our ...
3
votes
2answers
147 views

Are there names like ワンコイン for the other coins?

So ワンコイン refers to a 500円 coin, but is there other names for the other coins? Also in conversation does ワンコイン refer to any specific currency or only to 500 yen (as in the sense of being a default).
2
votes
1answer
110 views

How to say “for”

I will use a specific example. I was trying to write "My love for you is hurting me." "私の愛ために貴方は私を傷つけている。" Is what I came up with, however, I am unsure about the usage of "ために" in this situation. ...