1) What is the difference between 言うな! and 言ってんじゃねぇぞ!, in other words can we use them interchangeably at all times?

2) which is ruder?


2 Answers 2


言ってんじゃねぇぞ is definitely ruder than 言うな. The former has contractions, which only happen in casual speech:

iru no → n
de wa → jya

The following contraction is casual, mascline, and rough:

ai → ee

The sentence final particle is emphatic, mascline, and rough. With all these factors, the former will only be used in casual situation mainly by male, usually in an insulting situation.

The latter is simply an imperative. It has no connotation about roughness. It can be used as a formal order from a commander to a soldier, an advice from a coach to a sport player, an instruction from a teacher to a student etc. without any nuance of insult (but still showing social rank).

  1. The answer to this question is almost always no. (Why have more than one way to say the same thing, if there really is no difference?)

    In technical terms, 言うな is an imperative form, whereas 言ってんじゃねえぞ is a slightly indirect request, of a similar form as 行くんだ (except in the negative). There's also some subtle difference between, say, 言うんじゃない and 言ってんじゃない, I think, but I don't know what it is. 

    It is also possible that 言ってんじゃねえぞ is not an order. Depending on the context, it could also be translated like ‘I'm not saying that [...], you know!’ Whereas 言うな is pretty much unambiguously an order: ‘Don't say it!’

  2. It's hard to say which is ‘ruder’. There are complicating factors: ぞ is emphatic, and the slurring of ない to ねえ is also characteristic of ‘rough’ speech. On the other hand, 言うな is a perfectly well-formed order, according to traditional grammar rules. The connotations are, accordingly, different. If I had to choose one way or the other, I would say 言うな, being more direct, is the ‘ruder’ one. (But see the comments below.)

  • 5
    I concur that it's hard to answer questions like this without a working definition of "rudeness," but, for example, I think that the "rough speech" aspect of 言ってんじゃねえぞ makes it a more shocking and insulting thing to say, and the option more likely to take the relationship to a place from which it can never recover.
    – Matt
    Aug 15, 2011 at 11:28
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    @Matt: Agreed. I might use 言うな to my friends if I'm pissed or something, but I wouldn't use 言ってんじゃねぇぞ unless I'm really, really angry. Aug 15, 2011 at 13:14
  • @Matt, Enno: Thanks for the comments. That's what I thought at first as well, but I overanalysed things and came to the wrong conclusion. (Pragmatics is something I don't know well at all.)
    – Zhen Lin
    Aug 15, 2011 at 13:38
  • @Matt, Enno: AFAIR in some very informal settings abrupt ‘stop talking’ may sound way more harsh than relaxed ‘shut up’ or even ruder expressions. So, with regard to Japanese specifics, is it true that 言ってんじゃねえぞ would be more insulting than 言うな in any context regardless of intonation? Or there's just no point in taking extreme cases into the account? Aug 19, 2011 at 9:20
  • You could probably construct a scenario where 言うな is more insulting than 言ってんじゃねえぞ, but I can't imagine a realistic one that might arise in my (quiet, middle-class) life...
    – Matt
    Aug 19, 2011 at 10:55

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