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特別 and 特殊

I think they both mean "special". But are they used in different contexts?

  • You might start with some basic research for usage on ALC website. See 特別 and 特殊 – user3169 Oct 28 '18 at 6:13
  • Please do not recommend ALC. It is notorious for weird, unnatural sentences and incorrect vocab/grammar usage. – heretomurimudamura Oct 28 '18 at 15:24
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特別 tends to have a positive connotation and describe something is better than others. For example, 特別なプレゼント, 特別な日, 特別な思い出, etc. 特別な人 is someone who is special to someone, i.e., one's lover, family member, etc.

特殊 does not have a positive connotation, and it's often better translated as "specialized (as opposed to general-purpose/generic)", "different" or even "peculiar", "strange", etc. 特殊な人 is someone who is different from others in a negative way (having a peculiar habit, etc). That said, 特殊 is preferred in scientific contexts because 特別 tends to sound like a marketing phrase. For example Einstein's "special theory of relativity" is 特殊相対性理論 in Japanese.

  • Probably irrelevant, but 'Special Summons' in Yu-Gi-Oh! are 特殊召喚 in Japanese. – Aeon Akechi Oct 29 '18 at 0:25
  • @AeonAkechi Also in a case like that, 特別召喚 sounds it's a especially good summon, while 特殊召喚 sounds it's a specialized, nonstandard and/or tricky summon. – naruto Oct 29 '18 at 3:43

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