This is a couple of questions in one really. I received this snippet from a new penpal and I wasn't sure what some of it meant:


Online translations (I know, rarely reliable...) yields:

"It is hard to become in Japanese.".

I'm just starting out but have read about "ni naru" meaning "to become", however I've not seen "ni nari" before.

I find it hard to separate all-hiragana words at the moment so I'm not 100% sure if the phrase is split up as "Nihongo ni nari nikui desu."

Also, within the message are the following symbols:


<some text>

 → ??? 

Are these Japanese-specific in any way...?

  • 3
    You can ask you penpal directly.
    – fefe
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:01
  • 1
    I could, but to avoid complicating the emails with him I'm asking here...
    – NobleGuy
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:22
  • Maybe you could ask your second question separately (by editing your question in removing the last part and asking a new question).
    – Earthliŋ
    Sep 10, 2017 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


なりにくい is of the form

連用形 ren'yōkei + にくい

meaning "difficult to [verb]" or "hard to [verb]".

なる is "to become" or "to change into" (where "change" here is intransitive) and なり is its ren'yōkei ("masu-form"). So

日本語になりにくい = lit. difficult to change into Japanese

Only you know the context, but maybe you asked your pen pal how to translate "cow tipping" into Japanese, and he or she tried to tell you "this phrase doesn't easily translate to Japanese".

You can remember this construction also for やすい, which works exactly the same but means the opposite of にくい, i.e. "easy to" or "likely to".


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .