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In English, we can refer to an old person using "elderly", or "aged person". Comparatively, "aged person" would be more neutral than "elderly", which carries positive connotations.

As for Japanese, does the word 年寄り carry such positive connotations?

Or is it a neutral term alike "aged person" in English?

  • In AmE, "elderly" is pretty neutral and "aged person" is not used... My sense agrees with Tim's answer but again I am also not a native speaker. 年長 seems positive to me. – virmaior Feb 15 '14 at 16:17
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年寄り is pretty neutral, I think. 年配 is respectful and 老人 is a little more slang (from what I can remember).

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I am not a native speaker of Japanese but I know 年寄り as a neutral word, which gets used not just in conversation but in notices. I took the following from SpaceALC:

ここはお年寄りや体の不自由な人のための優先席です。

PRIORITY SEATING FOR SENIOR CITIZENS AND DISABLED PERSONS

I think you just need to be sensitive when referring to people's age, as you would in English eg use お年寄り if you feel awkward and want to express some reserve.

FWIW, I don't really see a difference between aged-person and elderly but these things vary from place to place and change with time. (My aged mother would not thank you to refer to her using either word though neither word's roots have a -ve connotation.)

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there are also 老害 which means trouble causing elderly

a contempt way to call お年寄り

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