17
votes
6answers
12k views

Can somebody explain the various words and combinations thereof used for thanking?

To my knowledge there are three words which can be used in thanking and they seem to be usable together in some combinations: どうも (d­ōmo) どうもありがとう (dōmo arigatō) ありがとう (arigatō) ありがとうございます (arigatō ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Is Japanese really an agglutinative language?

In the linguistics topic of language typology, Japanese is often included in lists of agglutinative (or agglutinating) languages, but when learning or reading about Japanese grammar exclusively this ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a reason why numbers in Japanese are delimited into blocks of four?

As I understand, Japanese numbers are divided into blocks of four, so while we would think of the number 89123889 as 89,123,889, in Japan they would think of it as 8912,3889 (八千九百十二万三千八百八十九). So ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

= sign in a katakana name

I was surprised when I came across this Wikipedia page: アーシュラ・K・ル=グウィン Does someone knows what that = sign is? I can see it works as a separator like 「・」 Is it simply an alternative?
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Does “敬語” (keigo) just mean “politeness” or is it a technical term specifically relating to Japanese grammar?

What is the difference between the Japanese term "敬語" (keigo) and the English term "politeness" (Specifically regarding language)? I assumed politeness is more general covering things like "please" ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Who decides what katakana will be used to form English loan words?

I love katakana, mostly because of how the characters look. But I am constantly baffled by why certain loan words from English are constructed using certain katakana sounds. For example, if someone ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Usage of なんて and なんか as emphasis

When are なんて and なんか used as emphasis in casual speech? Are they used when you're surprised, angry or can it be both? What sort of feeling does it convey to the listener compared to a normal sentence ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Since Japanese already had several words for rice why was “ライス” (raisu) borrowed from English?

Last night I had dinner in a ramen restaurant in northern Japan and was surprised to read the katakana "ライス" (raisu) on the menu. This is obviously the English word "rice" borrowed. But what kind of ...
17
votes
4answers
779 views

How to “shoo away” a sales clerk?

When I go window shopping, the sales clerk would usually come near me asking what I like. How should I politely shoo them away? Can I simply say いいえ、けっこうです or something like 自分で見る I know ...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
7k views

Getting your haircut in Japan

I have been living in Japan now for the last 3 months and my hair is starting to look like it needs a cut. But I have never been to a Japanese barbers before so as you can imagine I am a little ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Why isn't a large amount of money a good enough reason to kill someone?

In my JLPT workbook, there is this example question: 適当{てきとう}な語{ご}を選{えら}びなさい この殺人{さつじん}事件{じけん}の裏{うら}には(  )上{じょう}のトラブルがあるようだ。 A 金額{きんがく}  B 大金{たいきん}  C 金銭{きんせん}  D 基金{ききん} The answer ...
17
votes
2answers
341 views

Is the title ~[殿]{どの} used in modern day japanese?

Is the title ~[殿]{どの} used in modern day Japanese? If so, which people can you use it with? I've only really seen it come across in referring to [大]{だい}[名]{みょう} (feudal lords). Also it is applicable ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

What does the final て in 待ってて signify?

In this scene a young girl, Yotsuba, drops in on her neighbors for some breakfast. The mother who's cooking breakfast says 「今お父さんの焼いてるからその次ねー。ちょっと待っててー」. So I guess she's preparing her husbands food ...
17
votes
1answer
3k views

Can you say “half hour” or must you say “30 minutes”?

I know that to say an hour and a half you can say 一時間半, but is it possible to express simply half an hour even though the counter comes before 半? Or would you just have to say 三十分? If both ways are ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Rules or criteria for 連濁: Voiced or unvoiced syllables in compound words

Examples first. 空 {そら}. Almost all compound nouns for which 空 is the second component pronounce it as ぞら zora: 青空 {あおぞら} 夜空 {よぞら} 星空 {ほしぞら}. There is at least one exception though: 美空 {みそら}. ...
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? ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

How should I start an email when requesting something from someone I don't know well?

In English, there is a certain etiquette to follow when writing a business letter. From what I've seen so far, the same seems to be true in Japanese as well. If I was making a business-related ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

ひらく / とじる vs. あける / しめる

The verbs ひらく and あける both mean to open, and とじる and しめる both mean to close. I understand that ひらく and とじる are antonym pairs, as are あける and しめる, but have never been clear on the difference between ...
17
votes
4answers
559 views

Questions with ~か or without: how to choose?

Studying Japanese on my own, I've learned that in order to make a question, you usually add the particle "~か", like this: 今何時ですか。 It's also true that a question can be asked without it, using ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ)

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ), the counter that is used for birds. I figured it is because they jump, cause fly and jump are the same verb in Japanese, but then frogs are 匹.
17
votes
2answers
1k views

今までに vs. 今まで - what is the difference in meaning?

I recently used a following sentence in my homework: 今日までに 私は 二百まいしゃしんを とりました。 Now, in my homework I actually used 今日まで, without に, and I got it corrected. What's the difference between 今日まで and ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました

When thanking someone, what is the rule for using ありがとうございます vs. ありがとうございました? My sensei taught us to use ありがとうございました when the action you're thanking someone for occurred in the past, but I've heard ...
17
votes
1answer
398 views

Politeness in examination questions

1) Why do Japanese school examination questions get more rude as the year gets higher? In elementary school ...してください。 or ...しましょう。 ... です。 ...ですか。 In junior high school to high school ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the learning curve for learning Japanese writing?

What is the learning curve like for learning Japanese writing? Are you able to use what you've learnt as you're progressing, or are you only realistically able to start reading real text once you've ...
16
votes
7answers
1k views

Linguistics and Japanese study

Firstly, I apologise if this has been asked before or if I have asked this in the wrong place (should I have asked on the meta site?). I've studied Japanese for (going on) 5 years, now. It's been ...
16
votes
3answers
14k views

What's the difference between “さけ” (sake) and “しゃけ” (shake)?

Today I saw onigiri claiming to contain "しゃけ" (shake). When I asked my friend what that was, she said it was the same as "さけ" (sake), "salmon". So are these two just different readings of a kanji, ...
16
votes
4answers
6k views

Which is correct: こんばんわ or こんばんは?

I've seen both こんばんわ and こんばんは used; which is correct here? If we interpret the は as the topic particle, は would seem correct, but it seems that わ is used quite frequently anyway...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい

When does one use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい? For example, in phrases like: 先生は野菜を食べて欲し​{いです・がっています}。 My incomplete understanding is that the がる form is more formal/polite, but it can only be ...
16
votes
7answers
2k views

the different usages of つもり?

Hi all I understand that つもり means "intention" like say 夏休みにはゆっくり休むつもりです。 = I intend to rest during the summer vacation. But what does 分かっているつもりだ。 means? Well if I translate directly, it seems to be ...
16
votes
2answers
519 views

Why does 語 contain 五?

I'm aware the two kanji are often pronounced the same, but why does one contain the other in it?
16
votes
3answers
773 views

When is it okay to use あります with a living subject?

When learning Japanese everyone's taught いる is for a living thing and ある is for non-living things. However, I recently saw the following sentence ... あと、サッカー選手でもあります。 ... which ends in ある / あります ...
16
votes
4answers
671 views

What are the fundamental differences between the ~と一緒に and the ~とともに fragments?

I'm accustomed to saying together with using the ~ to issho ni fragment, but I've been noticing that some people I talk to phrase this using ~ totomo ni instead. i.e. 彼女と一緒に日本へ来た。 Kanojo to issho ni ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

How to say 'X, let alone Y' in Japanese?

How to say X, let alone Y in Japanese? For example, how would one translate: I don't know hiragana, let alone kanji. He couldn't boil water, let alone prepare a dinner for eight. I ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

“Seemingly cute” - かわいい + 〜そう

The 〜そう form means "seemingly 〜" and is usually conjecture made based on first-hand information. This usually means seeing something or hearing about something and making a conjecture, e.g., おいしそう ...
16
votes
3answers
802 views

Blue blistering barnacles, what is Captain Haddock saying?

For those who might not be familiar with the series Tintin (soon to be in a major motion picture, by the way), there is a character named Captain Haddock who is famous for shouting out colourful ...
16
votes
2answers
769 views

Use of 厨 on the Internet

If you visit ニコニコ動画 or any Japanese message boards often you are bound to see comments like ニコ厨 or 東方厨. Does anyone have good idea how did this originate and what do they mean?
16
votes
4answers
589 views

Appropriate ただいま-like greeting for a neighbor?

I frequently pass by an elderly neighbor who lives in the same apartment when coming home from a dog walk. He's kind of an in-house carpenter for the building and is frequently seen around the garage. ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it okay to use つ counting for everything?

Instead of using the proper counter for each thing, is it okay to just use the つ counter? Like in: 彼女は子猫2匹を持っている。 Use つ instead of 匹: 彼女は子猫2つを持っている。 Are there situations when this is ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning and usage of ネタ?

For example in this phrase: 話すネタはもっていそう I translate it into "he might have some stories", but I have the impression it has many other meanings.
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is 島 used in the name of some cities?

I can understand "島" being used in 硫黄島 (Iwo Jima/Iwo To, literally "Sulphur island"), because it is an island, but why is it used in 福島市 (Fukushima city, literally "Good fortune island") and 広島市 ...
16
votes
1answer
827 views

Why are points used where furigana would be normally?

Sometimes in mangas there points where you would expect normally furigana. What meaning is it supposed to have?
16
votes
2answers
633 views

Kitten: 子猫 vs 小猫 vs 仔猫

Are there any differences (nuances or usage) when using prefix 子, 小 or 仔 for denoting young animals? Examples: Kitten: 子猫 vs 小猫 vs 仔猫 Puppy: 子犬 vs 小犬 vs 仔犬 Pony: 子馬 vs 小馬 vs 仔馬 Calf: 子牛 vs 小牛 vs 仔牛 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

When and how did USA and UK come to be written as [米]{べい}[国]{こく} and [英]{えい}[国]{こく}?

I know of four countries with a specific kanji besides Japan: China, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. The last two must be quite recent (I presume 19th century) but I wonder on the details and context ...
16
votes
2answers
529 views

Where does the word ダイヤ come from that means “train schedule”?

For the longest time I've been hearing the word ダイヤ and just always assumed it meant "Diamond", but found recently it all means "train schedule". My question is, what word/language did this word ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Does the particle “を” (wo) have a special use when at the end of a sentence?

I thought the character "を" (wo) was only used for the particle whose only job was to indicate the direct object of a verb. But today I saw it at the end of an exclamation on a sign I think on a ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

If Vて+いる isn't a gerund, then what is it?

I always thought that a verb ending in the て form along with the いる suffix was the English equivelent of the "ing" form of a verb. Thus: see = 見{み}る, seeing = 見{み}ている do = する, doing = している ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the more common pronunciation for the r­ōmaji letter Z in Japanese?

I was on the phone with NTT the other day and things were going well (or as good as they could), until I had to spell some email address for the customer rep, and fell upon the letter 'Z'. ...
16
votes
2answers
693 views

Plain verbs that end with ぬ other than 死ぬ

Are there any other verbs than 死ぬ whose plain forms end with ぬ? Why are they so rare? Is it because the verb 死ぬ itself has special etymology why it ended up having the ぬ ending?
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Japanese particularly good for punning/spoonerisms? If so, why?

Today I was laughing my heads off reading puns at 言いまつがい, which is a collection of user-contributed accidental puns and other mistakes. It struck me that I never experienced this kind of ...

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