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It's said that 「さよなら」 can be used when you are parting with someone that you do not expect to meet again, hence the song name 「さよならは言わない」, etc.

However, it's also not rare that 「さよなら」 is used when you do expect to meet someone again, perhaps as a more polite form of 「では」 or 「じゃ」?

e.g.

enter image description here ↑ from the manga 「東京ラブストーリー」

And it seems that you can even respond to 「また明日」 from a classmate with 「さよなら」, and of course not to mean "no, I do not want to see you again".

enter image description here ↑ from the manga 「クロスゲーム」

It's also used by a podcaster saying goodbye to his listeners at the end of an episode, again of course not to mean "sorry this is our last episode":

勝手にEnglish Journal (14:02)

So here comes the questions:

  1. If 「さよ(う)なら」 can be used both when you expect and do not expect to meet someone again, how can the listener know with which meaning you are using it?

  2. It seems to me that 「さよ(う)なら」 is used much more often as a daily parting phrase in some old Japanese films, e.g. those by Ozu Yasujirō. Is 「さよ(う)なら」 nowadays less often used as a daily parting phrase but more as a sign of (voluntary) permanent parting?

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さようなら=Good bye

In Japanese, さようなら is a most standard and formal greeting expression when people are leaving. I think it is like "good-bye" in English.

In English, "sayonara" has a stronger connotation than in Japanese. It is used for the eternal leaving, right?

In Japanese, さようなら can be used for someone who will meet again tomorrow, but also someone who will never meet again.

In English you don't use "good-bye" for an informal setting, and you may use "see you,", "see you later", "bye" or something else that I can't think of now. In Japan, さようなら is not used for your close friends. じゃあね。じゃあな。またね。あばよ。ばいばい。etc can be used instead.

However, you should use さようなら to your school teachers, to elder students, to elder neighbors, to police officers, to whom you should use polite and formal greetings.

For a permanent parting, you may use さようなら more often than other expressions only because the formal expression would be preferred to such a permanent parting. However, if you want to part from your boyfriend/girlfriend forever, you may not say, さようなら but other expressions such as じゃあね。それでは達者でな。じゃあ、元気でね.

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I'm a native speaker of Japanese.

In Japanese, さようなら is a most standard and formal greeting expression when people are leaving.

Yes, it is.

I think it is like "good-bye" in English.

I don't know the nuance of it, but I was taught "good-bye" means さようなら at school.

I recalled carefully what I usually said, and I tried speaking it out loud. I noticed that I was speaking relatively fast and lightly with a smile "さよなら(not さようなら)", "じゃあ", "それでは" or ("明日{あした} また") when I was parting with a person whom I would meet soon or next day.

That means that "さよなら" itself has no serious connotation, and I think it is rather used than "さようなら" as a casual greeting phrase.

If 「さよ(う)なら」 can be used both when you expect and do not expect to meet someone again, how can the listener know with which meaning you are using it?

It depends on the tone, the loudness and/or the speed of the voice and the expression of the person to say "さよ(う)なら", and more it depends on the situation before saying so. I think this is the same in both English and Japanese.

It seems to me that 「さよ(う)なら」 is used much more often as a daily parting phrase in some old Japanese films, e.g. those by Ozu Yasujirō. Is 「さよ(う)なら」 nowadays less often used as a daily parting phrase but more as a sign of (voluntary) permanent parting?

"さよ(う)なら" is not completely obsolete. This is usually used as a general phrase without serious meaning.

To give "さよ(う)なら" a meaning of a sign of permanent parting or the nuance of lyrical or poetic expression depends on the context before and after this phrase, and also depends on the wording such as "さようならは聞きたくない", "さようならは言わない" or "サ・ヨ・ナ・ラ".

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