16
votes
3answers
815 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
807 views

Recent creation or adoption of hanzi characters into Japanese kanji

According to Wikipedia, kanji was introduced and imported from chinese hanzi long time ago before Japanese language even had a writing system. From there, Japanese kanji has transformed and evolved ...
16
votes
2answers
794 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
601 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
881 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
3answers
915 views

Can someone explain the logic of the grammar “とは限らない”

I found this example sentence in "A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar" under a grammar point unrelated to "とは限らない": "運動をよくする人が必ずしも長生きするとは限らない。" I understand the meaning of the sentence ...
16
votes
2answers
675 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
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
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
5answers
1k views

Except for pitch, what are the differences in pronunciation between Kansaiben and Tokyoben?

I have tried to ask people this type of question on many occasions and the answer is always the same, but people are notoriously bad at evaluating their own language, so I ask here: Apart for pitch, ...
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
736 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
386 views

Is 以降 inclusive?

If I say: 16日[以降]{いこう}参加できません。 It means I cannot participate after the 16th. However, what about on the 16th? Is it also implied that I cannot participate on the 16th either? Or, that I can ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

How do I politely ask my boss for a moment of his time?

My boss is a native Japanese speaker. In English, when I have a question or an issue to bring up, I can ask "Do you have a minute?" to see if it is an appropriate time to interrupt them. In ...
16
votes
2answers
21k views

だって (datte) meaning

What are the possible uses for だって?
16
votes
2answers
3k views

How do you write someone's name if you don't know what kanji to use?

Since kanji can have multiple pronunciations, how would you know how to write someone's name if you've only heard it spoken? What's the convention? Would you just guess, or maybe write it out in ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

Can a Japanese person understand something written in traditional Chinese

If I didn't know any japanese, could I potentially communicate with Japanese people just by writing in traditional Chinese? I've heard and seen this in movies, how true is this?
16
votes
2answers
662 views

Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

So-called の-adjectives - how does の *really* work?

Ok, so there seems to be some controversy over whether we can really say that there are 'の-adjectives', or whether we simply use a noun in an "attributive" way (a term which I don't actually really ...
16
votes
3answers
891 views

Confusion about “Seemingly not ~”

So there are several ways to express something is "seemingly not ~": ~なさそう ~そうにない ~そうもない ~そうにもない (is this one even real?) I was always taught ~なさそう in my Japanese classes, and it was ...
16
votes
1answer
440 views

What's the (real) difference between 飲む and 食べる?

When I first started learning Japanese, I learned that 飲む meant "drink" and 食べる meant "eat". These translations seemed to work for a while, but then I learned that you could 飲む things that you can't ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the difference between 今日{きょう} and 本日{ほんじつ}?

I also see both in different examples. As in : 今日は暑い。 本日はおめでとうございます。 Both are translated as "Today", but when and how should I use either one? Can we say : 本日はあつい。 And 今日はおめでとうございます。?
16
votes
2answers
338 views

Was 俺 ever gender-neutral?

I've heard elderly women in Japan referring to themselves using 俺. This leads me to believe that the usage has changed overtime to become only used by males. Did 俺 used to be gender-neutral?
16
votes
3answers
13k views

What to say after someone dies

What is the proper response when someone tells you, for example, that their mother has died? Relatedly, what should you do to express your sympathy? Do you send a card? flowers? bake a casserole?
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there an easily accessible list of terms in the Japanese grammar written both in Japanese and English?

I am a native Japanese speaker with a casual interest in languages. I sometimes have trouble explaining the Japanese grammar in English because I do not know the established English translation of ...
16
votes
2answers
577 views

An interesting postcard

According to my information, this postcard was sent from Japan to Russia, and probably in 1945. Needs a translation badly and nobody has seemed to care since then. I suppose that the historical kana ...
16
votes
1answer
6k views

How to differentiate friend level in Japanese?

I am sometimes having difficulty differentiating friends level when explaining it to a Japanese. For example, when I am telling a story about a friend, I want to specify the level of friendship we ...
16
votes
2answers
323 views

Most appropriate word for 'food'

I have seen many ways of saying 'food'. I am wondering if there is ever a difference in appropriateness. 食品、食べ物、~物(type+物)、飯、ご飯、etc. Most commonly, I think, is 食べ物, but I thought I'd use 食品 for an ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

けど at the end of the sentence?

According to dictionaries, 「けど」 means ‘but’, ‘although’, ‘however’. However, it seems to have slightly another meaning at the end of the sentence. For example, here are few example sentences with ...
16
votes
1answer
127 views

When referring to in-laws using 義理, do you use the familial term relative to yourself or to your spouse?

When using terms such as 義理のお兄さん and 義理の弟, do you choose お兄さん vs 弟 relative to your own age, or relative to your spouses age? If you are older than your spouse, but said spouse's older brother is ...
16
votes
3answers
774 views

What is the difference in meaning between “husband and wife” 夫婦【ふうふ】 and 夫妻【ふさい】?

I see that those two compounds mean husband and wife, as a married couple. But is there a difference in usage or context?
16
votes
1answer
374 views

i-adjectives that end in a 〜ない which doesn't seem to be 〜無{な}い

I noticed there are many 形容詞{けいようし} (i-adjectives) that end in 〜ない, where the な is not part of the kanji, and doesn't seem to have the meaning 無い. Examples: 危{あぶ}ない means "dangerous", while 危 ...
16
votes
1answer
461 views

Why does the narrator switch tenses here?

I'm currently reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Japanese, but the opening to the story is confusing me a bit. The actual text reads: ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

When to use: “say”, “speak”, “tell” or “express”

When browsing through journal entries by various people, I've recently been noticing the words 述{の}べる and 語{かた}る used fairly frequently but I'm not sure when they should be used over 話{はな}す and 言{い}う ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

まち: what's the difference between 町 and 街?

My impression is that 町 tends to be used for smaller cities and 街 tends to be used for larger ones. Is this correct? If not, what is the difference?
16
votes
2answers
890 views

Pronunciation of “何” as “なん” or “なに”

"何" is pronounced as "なん" before counter-words like in "何時{なんじ}", "何歳{なんさい}" etc; or before particles like in "何で", "何とか" etc. However, it remains to be pronounced as "なに" in some words like ...
16
votes
3answers
921 views

Rules for emphasizing by lengthening sounds

Sometimes, sounds are lengthened for emphasis. For example, see "とっても versus とても". What are the rules governing this process? Are there restrictions on where lengthening can be inserted? とっても or ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

When should one add さん at the end of a name?

I've heard some names pronounced with 〜さん added to them (such as 佐々木さん) and some without it. I believe it is related to respect or the age of the person named. What would be the guidelines or general ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Are all kanji compounds considered words?

A friend once commented to me that Japanese has a larger vocabulary than English. I said I didn't think it did, because it wasn't really accurate to call all kanji compounds "words". My friend said I ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between [行く末]{ゆくすえ}, 将来{しょうらい} and 未来{みらい}

I've been looking around and I got that the three words can mean "future". Is there a way to differentiate them? Can they be used the same way?
15
votes
1answer
646 views

Reading and usage of 「垂オます」

A while ago I was chatting with a Japanese man and when he introduced himself instead of using 「申す」 or 「言う」 he used 「垂オます」, as in (His name)と垂オます. Can this be used in the same way as 「申す」 and 「言う」 ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

What's the difference between せっかく and わざわざ?

せっかく and わざわざ seem to be pretty close in meaning/usage, but is there ever a time you would use one and not the other? Or is there a small nuance there? Just to give some example sentences: ...
15
votes
2answers
913 views

Just how rude is 「俺{おれ}」?

Statistics seem to show that (for young males, anyway) 俺{おれ} is beginning to be used more often than 僕{ぼく} to refer to oneself. I have read that 俺 is somewhat rude. There are certain situations, of ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

How does the の work in 「日本人の知らない日本語」?

I've read that 日本人の知らない日本語 translates to: "Japanese (language) that Japanese (people) don't know". But I don't understand how or what the の does in that sentence. If I'm not mistaken 知らない日本語 could ...
15
votes
3answers
540 views

How are 化け物, 妖怪, 幽霊, etc. related to each other?

In the past few years, reading light novels and the like, I have come across many different terms for ghosts, spirits, monsters, etc. in Japanese, and I'm wondering how they relate to each other. What ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Love in the air: 愛x恋 {あい vs こい}

From WWWJDIC: 愛 【あい】 (n,n-suf) (See 愛する) love; affection; 恋 【こい】 (n) love; tender passion; My understanding on affection, love and tender passion is like the following: affection < ...

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