Can't understand the term サーブ。I was thinking it may mean sub or substitute. Thanks as always! I was chatting with 茶屋。Could the term mean serve? Serving in the Olympics as an athlete? Or in reference to working hard in Kyoto? Serve serve serve! since the term is elongated.


  • 2
    茶屋's Japanese seems grammatical but unnatural to me. Is he a language instructor or a non-native speaker?
    – naruto
    Aug 17 '19 at 23:58
  • サーブ means serve in tennis. I don’t hear this word as another meaning.
    – Yamacure
    Aug 18 '19 at 0:41
  • 2
    And the character between and is not a long vowel marker but a full-width hyphen-minus. If 茶屋 did it intentionally, it means サ-ブ where サ and ブ are something like a seat number. But are you really sure you are talking with a native speaker? What was his response?
    – naruto
    Aug 18 '19 at 0:44
  • He seems to be kidding you judging from the 3 サーブ.
    – Yamacure
    Aug 18 '19 at 1:22
  • Could the term mean serve? Serving in the Olympics as an athlete? Or in reference to working hard in Kyoto? Serve serve serve.....
    – Jack Bosma
    Aug 18 '19 at 11:35

I try to consolidate the above + add some, while I don't understand the original dialogues completely:

@Jack I hope / believe that you know that なにこれ is [not literally, but considering the negative tone] close to WTF, i.e. you should for sure not use that to express that you did not understand what the person talking to you meant!

サーブ means "serve" in the meanings of [at least]

  1. Serving [in the sense of bringing to you + handing over food / drinks. NOT like "We only serve vegetarian food"

  2. In tennis

  3. In ice hockey ;-) / soccer [I chose "soccer" instead of "football" partly to avoid confusion [as some people may incorrectly think that "football" means "American football" ;-) ]

It is not used in the more abstract cases of "to serve" e.g. when saying something like "serving a country", or, in @JACK 's example "serving in the Olympics as an athlete"

サブ means "sub" of the sense "hierarcically below something else" [So, "subway" or "submarine" does not use it; submarine (vehicle) is 潜水艦] [At least if it is a military submarine; I think that the 艦 MAY not be appropriate for a non-military submarine, but I also don't think you say 潜水船 either].

  • could i say kore ha nan desuka?
    – Jack Bosma
    Aug 19 '19 at 16:08
  • Yes, no risk of misunderstanding that. Also, if using a very short version, saying "kore nani" is (while of course not so polity due to the shortness) better as, unlike "nani kore", it does not risk of being [at least so easily] understood as expessing disappointment. [Whe "nani kore" could be used, e.g. in a situation where you have ordered a coffee, it comes, you taste it, it tastes bad, and you say "nani kore!", when the meaning would be something like "What is this, do you call this coffee?!!"]
    – Tuomo
    Aug 20 '19 at 2:20

サ-ブ in my experience has always been sub, either as short for substitute or subscribe. However, that doesn't seem to line up in the context of this conversation, so I'm a bit confused about that.

However, sub is the takeaway meaning.

  • 7
    – Chocolate
    Aug 18 '19 at 1:48
  • サーブ was the term used.
    – Jack Bosma
    Aug 18 '19 at 15:19

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