When using the phrase ほんの一瞬, I somehow feel compelled to insert だけ afterwards. This seems to be somewhat common (over one million hits for "ほんの一瞬だけ" on Google), but does it seem silly in terms of redundancy? Since ほんの and だけ seem to have the same meaning, I'm not sure if I should actually say ほんの一瞬だけ, despite the Google results.

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    @Sawa, the snarkey comment is unnecessary, I searched ほんの一瞬だけ without the quotes and got 9,700,000 hits. encrypted.google.com/… – silvermaple Mar 20 '12 at 20:53
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    @atlantiza Hint: Does it really give you 3 million results, or does it say that it has 3 million results? – user458 Mar 20 '12 at 21:56
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    @sawa I didn't know that I couldn't trust Google's number result. But I still agree that the snarkiness was unnecessary, especially since I did nothing wrong really. – atlantiza Mar 20 '12 at 22:24
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    @atlantiza What many (especially people on this website) are doing wrong is to consider Google (and/or Wikipedia and some other websites) as absolute truth as if they are God. – user458 Mar 20 '12 at 22:43
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    @sawa, I think you really need to see the bigger picture. No one on this site thinks the number of hits on Google is the Word of God, but it is a good indicator if a phrase is actually used. If I type something in and get 2 results for a phrase, then I'm going to guess that it's wrong. If I type something in and get a million, I'm going to guess that if it's wrong, enough people make that mistake to give Google a substantial number. It's like Wikipedia. If you were writing a thesis paper, don't quote it, but if you're just looking for information, it's a great place to go. – silvermaple Mar 21 '12 at 1:01

Yes it might be redundant and ungrammatical, but I think I say and write that way quite often... I think I also use 一瞬だけ and ほんの一瞬 but I think I tend to use ほんの一瞬だけ when I want to emphasize 'only'. I think it's similar to たった一回だけ/たった一度だけ, which seem also redundant but I use quite often... so maybe these expressions are rather casual and colloquial.

  • So I probably shouldn't use them for something formal? – atlantiza Mar 22 '12 at 16:09
  • @atlantiza-san-- Hmm... ほんの一瞬だけ and たった一回だけ sound a bit casual to me but I think 「'ほんの'一瞬見た'だけ'では、判断できません」「あの方とは'たった'一度お会いした'だけ/きり'で、それ以来、何の音沙汰もありません」etc. can be used in rather formal situations... (But why...? Hmm...) – user1016 Mar 24 '12 at 11:16

If you interpret both ほんの and だけ as 'only', then it is redundant. But notice that だけ has another meaning: 'exactly' (This is similar to the English word just; it means 'only' or 'exactly'). If you take it thatほんの means 'only' and だけ means 'exactly', then it is not redundant. But probably the interpretation is a little bit strange: 'only exactly an instant'. I am doubtful whether there is a precise notion of how long an instant is.


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