14
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there an objective source of the origins of kanji?

Is there an authoritative source that explains where the different kanji come from and what the radicals mean? I think it's hard to tell from most of the textbooks/other sources whether a shown ...
6
votes
3answers
299 views

Meaning of pattern 「XがXなら、YもYだ」

While reading, I came across this sentence: 「上官が上官なら部下も部下だな」 What does this 「XがXなら、YもYだ」 pattern mean? "Like X, like Y"? "X will be X, and Y will be Y"?
25
votes
4answers
4k views

Usage of たくさん vs. 多い

When do we use たくさん and when do we use 多い? I found both modifiers are used within similar sentences, for example: 人が多かったです 人がたくさんいました I had this impression that 多い is used with countable nouns ...
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
23k views

What's the difference between “gohan” and “meshi”?

In answer to my question on the difference between "gyudon" and "gyumeshi" I learned that "meshi" just means cooked rice. But I thought "gohan" meant cooked rice, so please, what is the difference? I ...
9
votes
1answer
464 views

What is the difference between “meshi” and “don” for the food sometimes translated as “rice bowl” in English?

I'm a big fan of the Japanese fast food gyudon (cooked thinly sliced beef strips on top of a bowl of boiled white rice) and its variants such as butadon (the same but with pork). But why do some ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Rules for slang of Japanese numbers

I often hear Japanese using a different method for saying a number like "248" as によんぱ — especially for highways and license plates. While this one is easy to understand, there are others that I ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What exactly does an adjective stem + そう mean?

The other day I posted a picture of some food on Facebook, and I noticed that all of my Japanese friends were saying 「おいしそう」. I made a good guess to what it meant, but I wasn't certain what exactly ...
6
votes
2answers
719 views

「拝」から始まる謙譲語 — humble keigo starting with [hai]

What are the common 謙譲語 verbs that start with 「拝」? I know these ones: 見る → 拝見する (to see), 拝観する (to view something -- limited usage) 聴く → 拝聴する 読む → 拝読する 会う → 拝謁する (although I've ...
6
votes
2answers
293 views

Use of the particle を to mean where something is going?

A little while back I was working my way through the Book "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication" When I got to page 156 it explains the topic of the section which is "The te form of ...
12
votes
3answers
641 views

What is the difference between 出来る限り and 出来るだけ?

EDICT gives almost the same translation for these two expressions: 出来る限り; できる限り 【​できるかぎり】 (n) as ... as one can できるだけ 《出来るだけ》 (exp) (uk) as much as one can; as much as possible; if at all ...
11
votes
2answers
914 views

Can placements of adverbs be altered freely?

I'm curious if there is any difference in nuance between these two sentences: 彼は少なくとも週に一度車を洗う。 彼は週に少なくとも一度車を洗う。 I'm aware that grammatically speaking both are 100% right, but this question is not ...
7
votes
1answer
559 views

translation for “It serves as a good reminder for me”?

After I've say watched a film with some friends (or read a fable or something) and learned something from it, i want to say "It [the teachings of this fable/film] serves as a good reminder for me". ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

How to say “Hey hurry up! you'll be late!”?

When we want to say "Hey, hurry up! you'll be late!", which would be more appropriate? : 遅刻するぞ! 遅くなるぞ! any other suggestions?
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Does the (USA) English metaphor “Unable to see the forest for the trees” keep its meaning if translated verbatim into Japanese?

The phrase "Unable to see the forest for the trees" implies one is too entangled in a situation to understand what is transpiring from a larger context, and thus, unable to determine the correct ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between tori vs. dori?

In Aikido, different dojos seem to latch on to using either dori or tori when describing grabbing attacks. For instance one dojo might say: Katate Dori Another would say: Katate Tori Each dojo ...
14
votes
4answers
936 views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
11
votes
7answers
450 views

IT system renewal: Can I say 更新 for “renewal”?

I am starting a new project and have to come up with a name for it so that everybody knows what we are talking about. The project is the renewal of an IT application that I will call エックスワイゼッド. ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

お金と「ちょうど」の使い方 (usage of “chōdo”)

What is the reason/meaning for cashiers to use ちょうど when accepting money? 500円ちょうどいただきます。 This I understand, since 500 Yen are a "round" amount. "Exactly 500 Yen." 812円ちょうどいただきます。 If I'm ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

全然 {ぜんぜん} with positive adjective / na-adjective

In Japanese classes, I was taught that 全然 can only be used with negative-meaning words/phrases/clauses, for example: 全然出来ません 全然だめです However, I've observed that, especially in spoken Japanese, ...
14
votes
2answers
468 views

や in Kansai-ben when it is not だ

The following sentence occurs in The Legend of Zelda: ナンカ コウテ クレヤ (This would be なんか買うてくれや! and was famously translated as "Buy somethin', will ya!".) From the 買うて, it's obvious he's speaking ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

森 vs 林 for forest

According to A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters, 森 (38) is woods and 林 (75) is forest. But some material I've found online related to Japan seems to indicate 森 is the more correct Japanese ...
5
votes
3answers
409 views

{~もあり、~もあり} vs {~もあって、~もあって}

One thing I notice is that {~もあり} can follow an adverb, such as: 良くもあり、悪くもあり Other than that, when do we use {~もあり、~もあり} clause pattern instead of {~もあって、~もあって}? Is using {~もあり} considered more ...
10
votes
3answers
7k views

When/why did 電話する replace 電話をかける?

In some older learning material I came across, they use 「電話をかける」 for "to make a telephone call". When/why did this come to be replaced by 「電話する」 in popular usage?
19
votes
1answer
2k views

~うございます - keigo い-adjectives

I'm not sure if this is actual keigo, or just a polite form of adjectives. Anyway, there are several that we're all familiar with that are still used today. はやい → おはようございます ありがたい → ...
8
votes
2answers
784 views

~にしては vs. ~としては

I know one implies the thing I'm comparing actually is the thing I'm comparing it to, and the other doesn't. Can someone suggest an easy example or trick for remembering which is which?
37
votes
10answers
4k views

When is the katakana form of wo (ヲ) used?

I'm pretty new to Japanese, and I've been trying to learn hiragana and katakana. I know that in hiragana, wo (を) is used only for as an object particle, and it is always pronounced like o (お). This ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

How did “little tsu” become a lengthener?

How did it come about historically that っ preceding a sound would geminate it? Is it really a little つ or are they just near homomorphs?
8
votes
8answers
1k views

The many ways to write {かっこいい}

Apparently there are so many ways to write {かっこいい}. Hiragana/katakana only: かっこいい カッコいい カッコイイ EDICT: 格好いい かっこ好い Other possible variants: 格好良い かっこ良い カッコ良い 格好好い 恰好いい ...
9
votes
4answers
941 views

How can I learn and recall okurigana?

As time goes on in our age of increasing reliance on computerized kanji input, this question may become increasingly irrelevant, but when I'm writing a sentence with (gasp!) pen and paper, I have ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between その and あの?

Superficially, I get the sense that あの is for something far away from both speaker and listener, and その is for something closer to the listener than speaker. However, I seem to get in trouble when ...
31
votes
6answers
2k views

Arabic numbers: half-width or full-width?

Using my computer, I type a lot of numbers in Japanese text, and I am not sure when to use half-width or full-width. Are there rules? Right now I only use half-width, is it fine? Off-topic: Here is ...
10
votes
3answers
419 views

What is the difference between 交ざる / 混ざる {まざる} and 交じる / 混じる {まじる}?

Both {まじる} and {まざる} with both initial kanji characters 交 and 混 are intransitive verbs that are translated into this by rikaichan: to be mixed; to be blended with; to associate with; to mingle ...
15
votes
5answers
988 views

In modern usage how do Japanese natives regard the differences between 外人, 外国人 and 外人さん?

As a near native speaker of Japanese, I find it annoying to be called 外人 since it seems to imply that I "know nothing about Japan" (outsider). I much prefer 外国人. In modern usage, how do native ...
13
votes
2answers
898 views

What rules are there regarding the role a radical plays in a kanji (such as telling us about the kanji's reading or meaning)?

Are there certain rules for knowing what role a radical plays in a kanji? I've heard sometimes a radical tells us about how to read the kanji, and sometimes it tells us the meaning of the kanji. But ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Japanese dictionary for mathematics/computer science jargon

I study mathematics and computer science, and I'm starting to learn japanese. Could you suggest me dictionaries/sites/etc where I could learn terminology on these subjects?
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does “to tweet” something on Twitter becomes つぶやく?

Related to this question: What is the Japanese word or phrase for "to post on the internet"? I have noticed that when you post something on twitter they don't say 投稿する toukou suru, but ...
15
votes
1answer
319 views

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)?

What's the difference in usage between 氏名 (しめい) and 名前 (なまえ)? I often see these two words used interchangeably, but more often than not I see 氏名 on websites. Is this a politeness difference or an ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the Japanese word or phrase for “to post on the internet”?

How do you say "to post something on the internet"? Are there different words for different kinds of posts, for example: a blog entry a comment a piece of information, like a translation or a ...
5
votes
3answers
453 views

What is the meaning and etymology of 蝶よ花よ?

In a book I was reading, a tomboyish character complained about the expectations her parents had of her as their only daughter. She said: 「蝶よ花よと育てたかったらしいんだけど」 EDICT defines 蝶よ花よ as "bringing up ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of time of an action?

What's the difference between に and で when speaking of the time of an action? I know に is very specific about time, but I'm not sure when, or how to use で. Can で only be used in certain instances? ...
11
votes
2answers
201 views

The use of -さん when answering about oneself

If someone says, あなた は Chris-さん です か。 Are you Chris? Do you answer Chris です Or Chris-さん です Thanks
10
votes
1answer
514 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 ...
29
votes
3answers
4k views

Difference between -ていく and -てくる

Can someone explain the differences between v-ていく and v-てくる for me. I know that they both express some kind of ongoing action (like a place getting crowded). For example, what's the difference between ...
17
votes
2answers
6k views

When asking 'What is your name?' or 'What is your job?', why is it 'は' not 'か'?

As per the title, when asking 'What is your name?' or 'What is your job?', why is it 'は' not 'か'? For example, we are taught this: おしごとは。 'What is your job?' But I don't understand why it ...
7
votes
2answers
631 views

Significance of the kanji 茶 in the set phrase 滅茶滅茶{めちゃめちゃ} / 目茶目茶{めちゃめちゃ}

While having fun looking up random words in my dictionary software, I found out that the phrase "めちゃめちゃ", which is often used in colloquial sentences like "めちゃめちゃかわいい" has two kanji variants: 滅茶滅茶 ...
10
votes
1answer
257 views

How do I use うく as casual slang (as in ういた)?

Sometimes I hear Japanese people say ういた in conversation when describing something (usually someone) unpleasant. I asked my coworker once "what is this word", but I got a very poor explanation (not ...
4
votes
2answers
323 views

What was the origin for the term 水{みず}色{いろ} to be associated with youth, adolescence and puberty?

I am particularly interested in the phrase 「水{みず}色{いろ}時{じ}代{だい}」. Did it come from the old manga that used the phrase as its title, or has the phrase been carrying that particular cultural connotation ...
2
votes
0answers
358 views

What techniques/resources do you use to learn Japanese? [closed]

I make flashcards of kanji to read in the bus and study with my text books, while I'm in home I listen to podcast. Could you recommend other techniques, maybe a way to contact native Japanese people ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

How many dialects are commonly used today?

Which dialects would one normally encounter when visiting/living in Japan (in popular places like Tokyo, Kyoto and and so on) or reading something produced in Japan?

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