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What's the difference in using 楽 and まし. For example: 死んだほうがましだ against 死んだほうが楽だ. They both mean "It is easier to die (than to do something else)"

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  • Have you tried looking these terms up in a dictionary? They mean fairly different things. – Mindful May 4 '20 at 17:46
  • @Mindful yea I did, but while they mean "easier" and "better" when used individually, in the sentence such as the above, they sound the same to me – Newbie May 4 '20 at 17:48
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    楽 doesn't mean easy in this context. Check the dictionary again. @Newbie – Fireheart251 May 4 '20 at 18:09
  • @Fireheart251 Does it mean relief? But why can't it mean easy? There really isn't much context to begin with, so how would one know which it means? Especially since the 2 meanings are polar opposites – Newbie May 4 '20 at 20:03
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    Easy may be appropriate here for the colloquial usage meaning "easier on me", I.E. more comfortable. However, I don't understand how "It would be easier/more comfortable if I died" and "It would be better if I died" can sound the same; at the very least that's not a Japanese language issue. – Mindful May 4 '20 at 20:31
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They are semantically different words. 楽 means easy (antonym for tough/tiresome/hard) whereas まし is nuanced better, or "not satisfactory but at least better than something even worse" (See: What's the meaning and usage of ~マシだ).

死んだほうが楽だ and 死んだほうがましだ does not sound that different simply because 死ぬ is a thing that is normally both tough and bad. But tough and bad is not always the same. For example, imagine you are a traveler and decided to take a long, steep but safe mountain road, avoiding a short but bandit-appearing road. In this case, the mountain path is tougher but better. So you would say こちらの山道の方がマシだ, but not こちらの山道の方が楽だ.

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