13
votes
2answers
1k views

Meaning of 情弱乙 ?

I see 情弱乙 being used (as an interjection?) on many websites, but I can't find it in any dictionary, even online dictionaries. I guess the pronunciation is じょうじゃくおつ. What does it mean? Examples: 情弱乙! ...
13
votes
2answers
713 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.
13
votes
4answers
860 views

Are there any old loanwords from Korean, especially any not written in katakana?

Given the close proximity and long history of interaction of various kinds within East Asia, the great influence of Chinese in both Japanese and Korean, and the similar structures of Japanese and ...
13
votes
4answers
657 views

Are wasei-eigo and wasei-kango looked down upon?

Is wasei-eigo or wasei-kango looked down upon by Japanese language purists (as opposed to English or Chinese purists!) as informal, inauthentic, incorrect or the like?
13
votes
2answers
396 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
433 views

Ups and downs: かみ・しも vs うえ・した

So, we have the kanji 上・下 which can be read as either かみ・しも or うえ・した, and as I understand it, those two are antonym pairs. But what are the differences between the two? The thesaurus isn't very ...
13
votes
2answers
277 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
350 views

Can I say なるほど when talking with customers?

I was told in class by a Japanese teacher that なるほど can not be used when talking with people above, but in the same lesson we listened to a CD (training material) where a student was saying なるほど to ...
13
votes
1answer
582 views

Where does です come from?

I've heard various things about this construction from many different people, a few examples of which are: It's a verb meaning "to be". It's a contraction of something like でございます (de gozaimasu) or ...
13
votes
3answers
260 views

Why can some words be written with or without okurigana? How do the uses differ?

What is the difference for word compounds that can exist with 送り仮名 and without and still retain the same pronunciation? As an example: 巻き貝 と 巻貝 取り引き と 取引 If I'm correct, both of these are ...
13
votes
4answers
981 views

Is there an equivalent to George Carlin's “Seven Dirty Words” in Japanese?

Warning: This question contains words in both Japanese and English that some might not want to read. Also: My apologies that this question is lengthy. However, I wanted to take care to express it ...
13
votes
2answers
1k 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? ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

What does よろしくおねがいします mean when departing?

When on business in Japan last year, a Japanese colleague said よろしくおねがいします to me as the group were leaving after dinner. I'm aware of its usage in initial greetings, as is usually taught in ...
13
votes
1answer
203 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
487 views

What is the difference in nuance and usage of the two kanji forms for なおす (naosu), 直す and 治す?

Stolen directly from Grigory M's question in the definition phase: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/7526?phase=definition
13
votes
2answers
303 views

What is the te-form of 問う?

What is the correct te-form of 問う? Is it 問って or 問うて or both?
13
votes
1answer
352 views

Why is English “ka” and “ca” sometimes rendered as キャ (kya) instead of カ (ka)?

I sometimes see that English ka and ca are rendered キャ (kya) instead of カ (ka). Why is this? Do English ka and ca really sound more like kya than ka, at least to Japanese listeners? (I know it ...
13
votes
1answer
240 views

Is 花見 only for “cherry blossom” viewing?

Textbooks usually teach that 花見 / お花見 means "cherry blossom viewing". Tatoeba has a couple of examples supporting that: ヒラヒラと桜の花が舞っている。もうお花見の季節も終わりだな It looks like cherry blossom-viewing ...
13
votes
2answers
955 views

How to say: “I am returning your call”

Title says it all! If somebody called and left a message, when calling them back, is there a set expression for that? I generally just use "さっきにお電話頂いた...", but wondering if there is a more idiomatic ...
13
votes
1answer
458 views

Does ごめん really mean sorry?

Normally ごめんなさい is translated as sorry or excuse me, but that seems like a translation for non-native speakers. In the same way, しつれいします can also be translated as excuse me or pardon me. But it really ...
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 ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Words/characters for fast food meal sizes: 並, 大, 特

When dining at Yoshinoya I never know how to ask for the size meal I want. Their sizes are 並, 大, and 特. I only know that "大" means big, but it also has two readings so I have no idea whether to ask ...
13
votes
3answers
791 views

Can {X-eba X hodo Y} clause pattern be shortened to {X hodo Y}?

There is a clause pattern {X-eba X hodo Y}, for example, {chikakereba chikai hodo benri} which means something like "the nearer it is the more convenient it will be". Can I shorten the clause to ...
13
votes
1answer
367 views

Do native speakers consciously use phonetic elements in 形声文字?

Do native speakers of Japanese use phonetic elements when reading less common kanji? For example, does the compound 咆哮 look like ほうこう because of the elements 包 and 孝, even if you haven't learned to ...
13
votes
3answers
320 views

What is the difference between 向かい and 向こう?

I am unable to locate objects and their orientation with respect to myself when 向こう and 向かい are used. Consider: 向こう側 向かい側 向こうの店 向かいの店 Where is 向こう側 and 向かい側 with respect to me? Are they the same ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

How does ほど work in the 〜すれば〜するほど construction?

I understand that 〜すれば〜するほど is used to mean "the more you do ~ the more ~". However, I don't see how this meaning is derived from this sentence pattern. I assume the ば is from the conditional form ...
13
votes
2answers
980 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
497 views

The verbs of learning: 勉強する, 習う and 学ぶ

How are the following verbs which are related to learning different to each other? 勉強する 習う 学ぶ
13
votes
1answer
318 views

Why does 「目がない」mean “something you like”?

I came across the phrase 甘いものに目がない which roughly translates to "having a sweet tooth". Then I wondered why 目がない refers to "something that you like". Is there an explanation for why "having no eyes" ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

When did the “wu” character drop out of use?

In the last century, the ゐ and ゑ characters were eliminated from common use. But it seems like there used to also be a "wu" character that has since been lost. Given that it's a lot harder to find ...
13
votes
1answer
800 views

Using な particle after common nouns (non na-adjectives)

Is な particle allowed to be used after common nouns (i.e non na-adjectives) for whatever reasons, e.g. cuteness, trendy, humor etc? Dictionary@goo website seems to use (normal noun)+な in a couple of ...
13
votes
2answers
607 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
317 views

What is the subject when time passes in a narrative (eg 1ヶ月を経る)

(This might be a quick easy question but sometimes the answers to these are unexpected.) What is the subject in the following sentences? I've given my best efforts for the examples 1-4 below. (I am ...
13
votes
1answer
435 views

Sentence level pitch accent for 標準語

I was wondering if anybody had any references (preferably freely available) or insights that explain 標準語 (or should I say 関東語) sentence-level pitch accent. I already have a dictionary which describes ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Distinguishing certain characters in handwriting and print (Similar-looking Kana and Kanji)

Japanese has some sets of characters which look very similar or even identical. Obviously, context is usually more than enough to distinguish which character is intended, but I'm wondering if there ...
13
votes
2answers
881 views

What is the difference between 「けれど」 and 「けれども」 and 「けど」?

「けれども」と「けど」と「けれど」はいったいどう違うんですか。「けれども」はテレビ番組でよく使われているが、「けれども」は「けれど」より丁寧ですか。 English translation: What exactly do 「けれども」 and 「けど」 and 「けれど」 mean? They often use 「けれども」 on TV programs, but is 「けれども」 ...
13
votes
1answer
221 views

Does 連声【れんじょう】 still happen in the modern language?

I remember reading that there's a historical process called 連声【れんじょう】 which explains words like 天皇:   天皇    てん+おう = てんのう   云々    うん+うん = うんぬん   銀杏    ぎん+あん = ぎんなん Does this ever happen in modern ...
13
votes
1answer
423 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?
13
votes
2answers
288 views

Is there a logic for deciding when to employ furigana?

I'm vaguely aware that the usage of furigana is based on the intended target audience. The younger or less likely literate the target audience the more furigana are employed. But is there a system to ...
13
votes
2answers
301 views

What are the various ways to express 'or' and when are they appropriate?

I'd like to get an idea of when it is appropriate to use different expressions for expressing disjunction (of the inclusive AND exclusive variety). 「AとBとCの中で...」、「どちら」、and 「か] come to mind, but I ...
13
votes
1answer
228 views

What are the origins of the 「こそあど」 demonstratives?

I've noticed the following sets of words that seem to have a very obvious pattern, and, of course, their meanings are very closely related: これ、 それ、 あれ、 どれ この、 その、 あの、 どの ここ、 そこ、 あそこ、 どこ What are ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

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

I've heard some names pronounced with an added さん such as 佐々木さん and some without. I believe it is related to respect or the age of the person named. What would be the guidelines or general principles ...
12
votes
5answers
844 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
581 views

How should I select what first-person pronoun to use?

I've always had trouble choosing which first person pronoun to use - 私 (watashi), 僕 (boku), or 俺 (おれ). What kind of factors should I keep in mind when choosing between these? Is it common to vary ...
12
votes
2answers
227 views

How do I know when to read the kanji 抱 as 「だ・く」, and when to read it as 「いだ・く」, or even 「うだ・く」?

This sentence was in a grammar textbook: 彼{かれ}は同僚{どうりょう}にライバル意識{いしき}、ひいては殺意{さつい}すら抱いていた ... it means: "He regarded his colleague as a rival, even to the point of considering murder." My ...
12
votes
8answers
750 views

Is the word ハーフ derogatory?

Is the term ハーフ (mixed-race Japanese/other) derogatory? Can you use it in a newspaper article? Can you use it to describe your boss? If it is derogatory, what word(s) should one use instead?
12
votes
4answers
640 views

What is the correct usage of 承知しました, 了解です and かしこまりました, the more formal forms of 分かる?

At work, it is wrong to simply say 分かる to say that you understand something. In what situation should I opt to use one of the previously mentioned forms?
12
votes
2answers
592 views

Meaning of ぬ added to 連用形 / masu-stem, as in 風立ちぬ

What does the ぬ at the end of 立ち specify? I can't find a verb that is just 立ちぬ, is this some kind of special form? Can this be done with other verbs as well? 風立ちぬ, for reference, is Miyazaki's new ...

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