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A very nice vocaloid song called "Rolling Girl" has a very strong sense of lyrics. As I know, both やめる and とめる mean "to stop/to quit". However there are 2 sentences in the lyric that offers completely different meaning from each other.

息をとめるの which means "to hold my breath"

Even though I thought it suppose to mean "to stop breathing". And then the last lyric said :

息をやめるの which means "to stop breathing"

So I want to really know the differences especially since that both are labeled transitive verbs.

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    息をやめる is a lyrical expression and you would be corrected if you write it in exam. – user4092 Feb 8 '17 at 16:45
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Yes, the basic idea of these two is "to stop."

When we say 「やめる」, it implies that we give it up and it will not resume soon, or even never.

For example, when we are playing outside and are to stop playing and go back home, we tend to say 「今日はもうやめよう」 but not 「今日はもうとめよう」, because playing is not likely to restart in the same day.

Another example is, when we say 「仕事をやめる」 (which is given another kanji 「[辞]{や}める」), it usually means "to quit job" or equivalently "to leave position."

Compared to that, 「とめる」 does not imply such a future intention.

Also, 「とめる」 usually means to stop something ongoing (but not something that will happen). For example, when someone is planning to do a bad thing and we want him to stop it, we can say 「やめて」 but not 「とめて」.


In this case of the song, 「息をやめる」 sounds like to stop breathing for a fairly long time which leads health problems. On the other hand, 「息をとめる」 is to stop breathing for a while, as we do when we dive into water. Although one can keep stopping forever, 「息をとめる」 does not at all imply such a future.

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We usually say 息をとめる as the meaning of "to hold my breath". "stop breathing" is translated as 息(呼吸)がとまる and 息をとめる.

We rarely say 息をやめる. If we say it, 息をするのをやめる would be natural but it isn't common.

The lyrics of "Rolling Girl" has many figurative and suggestive phrases, so it can be interpreted in many ways. This is the link about the interpretation. http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q11100667561

I interpret 息をやめるの as the meaning of "suicide".

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The last part of the original lyrics are the following.

もう一回{いっかい},もう一回。「私は今日も転{ころ}がります。」と, 少女は言{い}う 少女は言う 言葉{ことば}に笑{ほほえ}みを奏{かな}でながら! 「もう良{い}いかい?もう良{い}いよ。そろそろ君も疲{つか}れたろう,ね。」
息を止(や)めるの,今。

"息を止{や}めるの" is strictly incorrect Japanese. Yes, it's a message of the lyrics, so we can intrepret the scene based on this imagery sentence.

I interpret that "息を止めるの" act in concert with "今日も転がります" and "もうそろそろ疲れたろうね" and it means "疲れたので、転がるのを止める" We don't know what she is strugging for, but she finally has decided to quit it.

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