14
votes
2answers
836 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.
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Contrasting っぽい、らしい、みたい

For example, the following 3: 女っぽい (おんなっぽい) 女らしい (おんならしい) 女みたい (おんなみたい) In what situations would you use っぽい over らしい? Does っぽい have negative connotations? Are 女らしい and 女みたい interchangeable as in ...
14
votes
4answers
2k 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?
14
votes
2answers
317 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
404 views

How did 面白 end up meaning “Interesting”?

面 by itself means "face", while 白 by itself means "white". How did these two words combine together to mean "interesting"?
14
votes
1answer
619 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
640 views

Is there a list of kanji ordered by usage in novels?

I have found many lists of kanji ordered by their usage in newspapers, but are there any lists that order by their usage in novels and other fictional material? This might be useful to have because ...
14
votes
3answers
270 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
655 views

Saying “to miss” (“I missed you over the weekend”)

What's the best way to say "to miss" in the sense of feeling a longing for something, or that something pleasant is missing? I understand there's [懐]{なつ}かしむ, but it seems to me that, like 懐かしい, is ...
14
votes
1answer
772 views

Are kanji characters made up of radicals only or could they contain strokes that are not radicals?

Inspired by this question of rounded or circular strokes in kanji, I got an idea to prove that there is no circular strokes in kanji by examining all kanji radicals, which is a lot less that examining ...
14
votes
3answers
489 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
265 views

What are the origins of ド when used as emphasis, and is it always negative?

Sometimes I've seen ド as a prefix that adds emphasis to words. So saying someone is ドバカ is saying that they are much more stupid than just バカ. I'm wondering what the origin of ド in this context is. ...
14
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
14
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? ...
14
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
251 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
137 views

What are the nuances between these three terms for intelligence: 知恵 [ちえ], 知能 [ちのう], 知性 [ちせい] ?

In particular which one is closer to the idea of "ability to reason over things" as a quality of someone in particular? What I believe is that 知識 on the other hand is closer to "knowledge" and ...
14
votes
3answers
4k 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?
14
votes
2answers
338 views

Is there a specific time to pronounce 日本, にほん/にっぽん?

Are the two used completely interchangeably or are there specific situations where one might be used more than the other? For example I've never heard 日本語 said にっぽんご.
14
votes
2answers
226 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
493 views

Understanding all the words but not the meaning: What does this ad say?

This is a frequent problem that I think many Japanese learners experience. You look at some Japanese sentences, and you understand the words, and most, if not all, the grammar, and yet still, it just ...
14
votes
8answers
4k views

Are there any Japanese words as versatile as “fuck” in English?

I was wondering about this one recently. "Fuck" in English is famous for being applicable in a wide, wide range of circumstances (none of them formal). What word in Japanese covers a wide spectrum of ...
14
votes
2answers
252 views

Can't に always replace へ?

Me and the particle へ don't get along. It's not that we don't like each other, it's that we don't get each other. I'm in a pretty committed relationship with に. I mean, I think I understand what へ ...
14
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
330 views

Why is the topic marker often used in negative statements (ではない, ~とは思わない)?

What function does は provide in statements such as 本ではない or 本だとは思わない? I notice the は after と is often left out, at least if a Google search for 思わない is any indication, but there still seems to be a ...
14
votes
2answers
376 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 ...
13
votes
8answers
792 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?
13
votes
4answers
591 views

Does 髭 refer to the beard or the moustache?

My dictionary lists 髭 as moustache / beard, but from the example sentences in WWWJDIC, it seems like 髭 is more often used to mean "beard" than "moustache" ? So for example, in this sentence: ...
13
votes
3answers
7k 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, ...
13
votes
3answers
621 views

Why is “Xy” pronounced as “Ki Shi” in Xylitol「キシリトール」?

Why is "Xy" pronounced as "[Ki Shi]{キ シ}" in [Xylitol]{キシリトール}? I believe "Xy" can pronounced as "Zai", which is probably a valid sound in Japanese. I would like to know its etymology too, if there ...
13
votes
1answer
472 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?
13
votes
4answers
690 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
452 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
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
369 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
4answers
1k 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
347 views

What is the meaning and root of 意味くじピーマン?

Recently a friend of mine threw the term 意味くじピーマン (imi kuji pi-man) into a story she was telling, and it totally threw me off. At first I thought, because I wasn't sure how to parse the くじ part, it ...
13
votes
2answers
570 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
5answers
613 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, ...
13
votes
2answers
603 views

Some questions about radicals

Are there certain rules for knowing what role plays a radical in a kanji? I've heard sometimes one radicals tells us about how to read the kanji and other radicals tells us the meaning of the kanji ...
13
votes
1answer
215 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
516 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
327 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
385 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
2answers
322 views

Why is “ゼロ” more popular than “れい”?

For the number zero, [零]{れい} is a Chinese origin word that is pretty much familiarized in Japanese. Nevertheless, it seems more popular to use the Western origin word ゼロ, which probably appeared ...
13
votes
1answer
336 views

Should I say 失礼{しつれい}します before hanging up the phone if the other person called me?

Phone etiquette is one of those things I still struggle with at times, often fumbling because I'm not sure what expression I'm supposed to use at a given time. 失礼します at the end of a phone call is one ...
13
votes
1answer
302 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
586 views

What is the difference between “河” and “川”?

I saw the first (河) used for "Hippopotamus", literally mimicking the Greek name (River Horse) but I expected to see 川 in its place... Also, apparently you can use "河川" to mean river*s* (plural)? But ...
13
votes
2answers
381 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。?
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the more common pronunciation for the romaji 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'. ...

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