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Roman Jakobson famously said: "Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey." His point was that every language can sufficiently convey any idea that can be expressed in another language. The difference is that for each language there are some properties that must be specified when an idea is conveyed, even ...


10

友達 is kind of an odd case - it's a word in the process of fossilisation. 友 on its own is a valid word, albeit one with a distinctly archaic flavour. -たち was then added to make a collective plural (as Thomas Gross says, not a true 'more than one' plural, but instead a 'group described by this term' plural). Modern speakers, though, would always use 友達 in all ...


8

「~方」 (「~がた」), 「~達」, and 「~等」 have the same meaning as "et alia" or "and company" in English; you use it when you mean one person (any of the three suffixes) or animal (「~達」 and 「~等」 only) and all the others that are attending them (e.g. 「アマンダさん方」). 「~方」 is honorific and 「~達」 is neutral, but 「~等」 is deprecating or familiar and so should usually only be used ...


7

「ら」 is a plural suffix. In this case, 「山中ら」 just means "Yamanaka and his opponent", not "Yamanaka and his hangers-on". The hangers-on do not need to take a preliminary physical before a boxing match. "Yamanaka and his opponent pass their preliminary physical."


5

First, I am not sure that /ora/ really belongs in this category. Most dictionaries simply list it as a variant of /ore/. But /oira/ is pretty unanimously agreed to derive from /orera/, 俺 + 等 as you say, so I will stick to discussion of that one. (In any case, presumably whatever applies to /oira/ would also apply to /ora/ if indeed they were the same /-ra/.) ...


5

In informal settings, you might use あたし達, to your parents-in-law you might use 私達, and in business settings, you might use 我々 or 私共. It can depend on many things, including possibly your gender, but it doesn't generally depend on whether there is somebody of the other gender in the group you refer to. The Japanese plural marker 達 as well as ら and others ...


5

Adding to the previous answer, I feel that usage with the so-called Japanese pronouns is somewhat of a special case. For one, the plural cannot be implied without adding a suffix. 私, 彼, 彼女 and あなた alone never mean (approximately) we, they or the plural you. Secondly, I don't think adding ~達 or ~等 has the nuance of putting an emphasis on any one individual in ...


4

Japanese usually doesn't distinguish between singular and plural nouns. スポーツ is thus both singular and plural insofar as the singular/plural distinction even makes sense when talking about Japanese. There are several other words, which have a ツ at the end, like ドーナツ or ピーナッツ, but only end it a single T. I conjecture that ツ was chosen over ト (as in スポート, ...


4

If it were 学生 without たち in the first sentence, I would probably interpret it as a single student, until "専門スタッフ3人と学生約20人" in the middle of the article. At that point, I would notice the ambiguity and probably think the article is poorly-written. I assume a 68-page book can be designed by a single college student who majors in design, so the plurality was ...


4

I am going to say that is mainly because it was newspaper article writing, which is expected to be rather precise by the general public. It is just not written the same way we speak. Even if 「たち」 had not been used, well over 90% of the readers would have understood it to be plural from the context. 90%, however, is not a good enough number for a ...


4

Although in some contexts 学生 can be plural (in fact the way you propose to change the sentence MAY be read that way), as both @istrasci and @dainichi stated, it could lead to confusion as it could mean either one or many students. Adding the たち confirms that it refers to more that one student and removes this ambiguity. デザイン専攻の学生が記念誌を作成した。 The ...


3

This doesn't relate to the necessity/appropriate-ness of when you use them necessarily, but it's related to the topic in general. So I'll post it. Note that there are several other ways to pluralize things, but their usage is very limited: ども: Used as a very humble plural. 広辞苑 cites 「私ども」and 「身ども」. I've heard of the former, but apparently 「身ども」 was ...


3

Unfortunately I don't have a good answer, but I do have one fact to toss out there, since it doesn't look like anyone else has yet. A number of Japanese linguistics texts I've seen indicate that it's a fallacy that -たち and -ら are pluralizers. Rather, it's claimed that their meaning is qualitative rather than quantitative, and it's merely that most cases ...


3

彼ら is definitely gender neutral and 彼女ら can only have females in the group, right? If you think using he in English when the gender is unknown is politically incorrect, then you would still want to worry about 彼ら a bit, too. You don't have to be too strict, but avoiding gender-neutral 彼ら when possible is a good habit. And I think the singular 彼 ...


3

(This is my comment with small changes in wording.) Japanese have some suffixes for nouns which signify plurality such as たち, ら, and ども, and this might be referred to as “some kind of plural declension,” although showing plurality is not required grammatically like English. If your professor was talking about conjugating a verb according to the number of ...


2

彼ら is definitely gender neutral and 彼女ら can only have females in the group, right? Japanese plurals are (or at least can be) associative. 彼ら means "he and the ones I/we associate with him", just like 田中たち doesn't necessarily designate a group where everybody is called Tanaka, but means "Tanaka and the ones associated with him/her". So 彼ら would usually ...


2

Your final question is different from the one in the title. First, ~たち is not built-in. The noun 友 can appear on its own. See here for more information. Therefore, the answer to your last question is no. I want to mention though that ~たち, or suffixes such as ~ら, ~ども, etc. do not mark the plural in the strict sense, but rather an associative. An ...


2

When is it appropriate or necessary to use -たち or -ら? The suffixes are very appropriate when you're refering to a group of people, for example: 君達、お前ら. That's what a teacher would say to his students. In that case, it seems to me that ら is quite harsh. お前ら、なにしているのかい? (angry guy addressing a group of noisy youngsters) 君達には明るい将来があります! (schoolmaster ...



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