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I've been coming across these three lately in a visual novel that I've been using to try to learn to read Japanese, and it seems their usage is not that interchangeable.

I'd like to confirm/deny if my intuition is correct.

解る seems to be quite dry, esp. when used to address the speaker in a "you get it?", patronizing manner. 分かる seems mostly neutral, worldly and interchangeable with わかる. As for 判る, I'm not really sure. Is it to just ascertain already suspected facts, e.g. time/weather? This post helped to get the general gist about 分かる. This was useful in a way but I feel like it's only scratching the surface.

For example, 話がわかる seems like an expression without any imbedded negative connotation, i.e. a type that 'gets it', much worldly wisdom and such. However, here, 話の解る seems to be more like 'you get it' in a dry, patronizing manner - is that down to the choice of Kanji in わかる, or simply context?

A.「え―ちょっ、止めてよ、たしかに色々言い合ったけど、そんなのケンカ両成敗{りょうせいばい}っていうか……」

B.「そうか。いや、話の解るマスターで助かった」

A.「……なんか、切り返し早いわねアンタ」

NB: A is B's master [マスタ] (it's a novel about magi and their hero-like familiars).

It's obvious from A's follow-up that she's frustrated with B's cheekiness. Would replacing 解る with say わかる make B's phrase it a lot more mild on A (as in, I'm relieved I got a down to earth マスタ, buddy buddy way)?

I would be grateful if someone could confirm/deny my intuition about 解る and clarify the essential usage of 判る. Resorting to Japanese sources isn't very helpful as they seem to refer back and forth to ideas that are already assumed to be intuitive to the speaker (and probably differ in the ways an English language-speaking person would interpret that idea, as is the case with any foreign language).

Thank you.

  • They use different kanjis, that's the difference. Besides that, I'm not sure though I'm a native speaker. – user4092 Mar 8 '15 at 7:05
  • I've linked this thread in the OP along with the reasons why it doesn't answer my question. – cirno Mar 8 '15 at 23:24
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Would replacing 解る with say わかる make B's phrase it a lot more mild on A

No. 解る can be used whenever わかる is used for the 理解する meaning, as the case is in 話がわかる, so as far as kanji choice vs context goes, I'd say context.

As for 判る, think 判明する or 判断する.

When in doubt, you can use 分かる for all of them with no repercussions.

Sidenote: Some writers like to be extra fancy/precise/"tryhard" with their kanji use (this can be particularly conspicuous in some visual novels). Read enough things and you'll get used to it. It's fun to think about sometimes, but for the most part, don't let it get in your way of understanding the bigger story.

  • It's just that they've been coming up in very specific contexts. 解る when someone's being patronizing (or self, in a humble manner), 判る when it's something assumed to be obvious. E.g. from the example I've quoted I assumed that B was giving A a compliment but it was obviously not so as revealed in A's response. I wonder if it's just this specific VN? – cirno Mar 8 '15 at 8:56
  • As @Cadenza said, it is really the matter of compound usages. 解る is used mostly instead of 理解する and 判る instead of words with 判 inside of them. – eiennohito Mar 9 '15 at 3:11
  • @eiennohito this kind of begs the question (the nuances of 理解 and 判明 usage, which I'm unaware of beyond my slight and probably wrong language intuition - beyond the common 理解 ”scientific understanding” use - and more pertinently, to the way swapping them changes nuance). – cirno Mar 9 '15 at 4:13
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Well, it ultimately boils down to politeness in addressing particular individuals or using their names (maybe more accurately "social elevation") and what the verb actually means.

わかる can be any of them and is commonly used.

分かる actually means "breaks into parts" like if a log suddenly split itself apart. It's intransitive meaning the action kinda "happens on its own" like a sliding door at the grocery store opening. It's the most fundamental form of "hey i got it / it clicked!" when used in the past tense.

判る ... let's look at what the kanji character means.

http://jisho.org/kanji/details/%E5%88%A4%E3%82%8B

Seems like it literally refers to judgement / judges / judicial stuff and official seals and stamps (stamps and seals are a big deal in Japan)

Have almost never seen this ^ used in the wild, but ostensibly the meaning is the same ("to understand") but it has a sense of "hey did you understand that sentence the judge declared?" perhaps.

解る is very beautiful http://jisho.org/words?jap=%E8%A7%A3

It kinda points to dissolving or alleviation (in the case of a fever). In the context you provided:

話の解るマスターで助かった

It is probably implying a sense of admiration / social elevation for the "mastaa" in question. This is the form you'd probably use when talking about "what sensei understands" versus "what little timmy understands"

Hope that helps in your quest of Japanese mastery!

理解できましたか?

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