Questions tagged [ambiguity]

曖昧な表現. A situation where multiple interpretations are possible as a result of scarcity of information. Ambiguity can exist at the grammatical and lexical level, and is usually resolved through context.

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What does 毎日働かせる mean exactly? (causative form + frequency modifier)

To me it seems that 毎日働かせる has two possible meanings: Every day (I) make (him) work. (So I issue this order to him every day) OR, (I) make (him) work every day. (So maybe I only issue this order ...
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Looking for example where 明ける means "to begin" *unambiguously*

All the dictionary entries I have found for 明ける include definitions that are almost opposites of each other. More specifically, in some of the definitions, 明ける means something like "to begin&...
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Concrete meaning of 部 , 課 and 局

I can't figure out when referring to 部, 課 or 局 if we speak of an "organization of people" or "the place where they perform their job" ? I have the same problem regarding the word ...
Z Ea's user avatar
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Is 「(Non-Past Tense Action A)前に(Past Tense Action B)」technically ambiguous?

From How to appropriately pair tenses in subordinate and main clauses?, one of the answers provides: 歯を磨く前に食べた。 Problem: Is this sentence technically ambigious, in that it could mean: "I ate ...
George's user avatar
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Ambiguity of nouns that convey feelings

I wanted to ask about an ambiguity I have encountered concerning nouns in Japanese, in particular nouns that convey feelings. For example, the noun 躊躇 in this sentence from 金閣寺 by Mishima Yukio: ...
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confused with "ような" specific sentence structure

I was watching "岡田斗司夫" and then this sentence came out: 若し一般人が適用される様な厳しいルールなんだったらローガンポールのYoutubeアカウントだって削除しろよ I am actually stuck on understanding the meaning of "ような" in this ...
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The meaning of ある in this sentence and in other situations

Konnichiwa, I was reading 人間失格 by Dazai Osamu and I was confused with the meaning of ある in it : 只顔を赤らめて笑って、何も答えませんでしたけれども、しかし、実は、幽か【かすか】に思い当る所もあったのでした。 Does it mean that "he had something he ...
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1 answer
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Ambiguity of 求める

Konnichiwa, ive got a sentence from 人間失格: "それらの手段を求める為には、自分の持ち物全部を売却しても悔いない気持さえ、抱くようになりました。" And I'm stuck concerning the meaning of 求める cause ive found two : もと・める【求める】 読み方:もとめる [動マ下一][文]もと・...
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the meaning of "のこと" in this sentence

Ohayou, please i wanted to understand the exact meaning of this definition-like sentence : "何か、機械とかに人間っぽいことをさせる、知能を持たせるみたいなまあ広い枠組みのことをAIと言って" And because I found it difficult to really grasp ...
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1 answer
140 views

Ambiguity in passive and potential ichidan verbs

The potential and passive forms for ichidan verbs are the same. In the following sentence: 自由の本当の意味がわからなければ、自由を与えられるべきではない。 I initially read this as, "If you don't know the real meaning of ...
octosquakk's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
531 views

Usage of 「書かない」referring to famous authors

In Yorushika's song "Hitchcock"'s lyrics appears the sentence: ニーチェもフロイトもこの穴の埋め方は書かないんだ Which is translated as "Neither Nietche nor Freud wrote about how to fill this hole" by ...
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Is the phrase 他【ほか】を利【り】する ambiguous?

Is the phrase 他【ほか】を利【り】する ambiguous? I found it here: https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/en/他/#je-44494 他【ほか】を利【り】する benefit others Could this example also mean exploit others?
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What is this な? 「変態」ってな

(ナオト) お前のパンツ買うの忘れた。 (真由)  それぐらい ちゃんと持ってきてます。 変態。 (ナオト) お前 「変態」ってな…。(source) (桐乃) あんたが沙織とこそこそ仲よくなったりしたから、ややこしいことになったんじゃない (京介) っていうか、興味津々じゃねえか! (桐乃) うるさい!あんたこそ、何よ、あやせ見て デレーっとして。人の親友をあんな目で見んな!変態! (京介) ...
Eddie Kal's user avatar
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Meaning of 「いらないなら、いいけど 」

Context: I am torn between three meanings: It's ok if you don't need it (You don't want it) If you don't need it, then ok (I'll take it) I don't need it, but ok (I'll take it)
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How to tell which noun is being modified in 二人だけの世界

In the song あの夢をなぞって (Ano Yume o Nazotte), the third line is 音の無い二人だけの世界で聞こえた言葉は「好きだよ」. The translations to English give this as some variation of In that soundless world with only two of us, the ...
Caden M's user avatar
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2 answers
364 views

Ambiguous sentences when using の and に together

In the following sentence, the combination of の and に allows it to be interpreted in two ways: この巨大なネズミは他の地域に生息する固有種に比べれば小柄。 この巨大なネズミは(他の地域)に生息する固有種に比べれば小柄。 Compared to the endemic species in other ...
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龍 安 寺 蹲 踞 『吾唯足知』 [closed]

¿ Can you trace the ancient Chinese roots of the sentence 吾 唯 足 知 。 In the 茶の湯 garden of 龍安寺 🇯🇵 there's a stone dubbed 蹲踞〔つくばい〕where there it's written on it :   五 矢 囗 隹   止 and the 囗 is a basin of ...
Routcheau's user avatar
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3 answers
2k views

Does “Tekken” sound like “iron sword” to someone unfamiliar with the franchise?

The word “ken” has at least 2 meanings: Ken (拳) means fist, while ken (剣) means sword. If a Japanese speaker hears about the video game Tekken (鉄拳, “iron fist”) for the first time, without seeing the ...
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Does the order matter when applying multiple modifiers to one noun with the の particle?

My example:「現在の私の日本語」 vs 「私の現在の日本語」? Since both 「現在」 and 「私」 are intended as modifiers of 「日本語」, at least by the rules I am aware of, either order would be fine. Though I could see the latter being ...
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2 votes
1 answer
138 views

Trouble finding out who does what: 君がいいと言えないまま見つめてる後ろ姿

The beginning of the opening for the anime 彼女、お借りします goes as follows: 運命なんて言えない あと何センチ近づけばいいんだろう 君がいいと言えないまま見つめてる後ろ姿 My problem is with the third line. I can't really figure out what belongs to the ...
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Ambiguity in a sentence

誰よりもあなたが好き This can either mean "I like you more than I like anyone else", or "I like you more than anyone else who likes you" How would one differentiate this? No matter how I think about it, I can'...
Newbie's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
240 views

Object of a sentence ambiguity

The sentence: 守りたいのはあなた This sentence can either mean "The one I want to protect is you" or it can mean "the one who wants to protect (someone else) is you". Any way to distinguish besides context?
Newbie's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
252 views

庭 & Ambiguity of Yard or Garden?

I've been communicating back and forth with my host family in Japan. We recently talked about a picture that I sent involving my backyard and my host mom used the kanji 庭(にわ) which means garden or ...
Sarah Szabo's user avatar
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1 answer
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Riddle question

I would appreciate some help in solving this riddle. There is a sign that says "どくぞごじゆうにおとりくだちい" in front of candy samples at the candy shop. It means "Please feel free to take (one)." However, you ...
tytyf's user avatar
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2 answers
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The exquisite depths of 和菓子's mind

和菓子は季節とともに変化するもの。パッと見て何を模したかわかる形もあれば、どんな意味が込められているのか考えるものもあり……。(source) As I understand it, the last clause is supposed to mean "there are ones (i.e. certain 和菓子) that make you ponder about what ...
Mixel's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
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The redundance of 経緯

The following is from this article. 関電は日本の原子力事業の旗振り役となってきた経緯があり、この問題がもたらす影響は計り知れない。 I am not sure what value となってきた経緯があり brings to this sentence. Is it simply a more formal or poetic alternative ...
Mixel's user avatar
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1 answer
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Ambiguity with particle と

The particle と has several use cases, two of which are: 1) Connecting two nouns Example: 林檎とバナナを買いました。 I bought apples and bananas. 2) Indicating that something is done together with somebody ...
Overblade's user avatar
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1 answer
212 views

Value-augmenting なれば

The following quote is from this article. 神苑にこれほどの梅が植えられたのも、そんなふうに訪れる人々の憩いになればという思いから。 I wonder what になれば means here. What value does it bring over having simply になる?
Mixel's user avatar
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1 answer
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How to use 彼 and 彼女?

The first time I saw these two terms, they were used in a love context, to mean "boyfriend/girlfriend". Later, I came to know that you can also use these to refer to "that guy/girl". So, what I ...
Jak's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
839 views

Differentiating between "search in" and "search for" in Japanese

"To search" is 検索する of course, but how do you differentiate between searching "in" or "through" something and searching "for" something? From what I have seen, ...
By137's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
145 views

一線を画する ambiguity

This passage comes from Underground by Haruki Murakami: 年長者であり医師であり、科学技術省の「武闘派」とは一線を画している林が敢えて実行者として選ばれた理由は不明だが... The translation by Alfred Birnbaum is Why Hayashi - a senior medical doctor ...
Project Book's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
175 views

Subject ambiguity in 大阪府の警察は、樋田容疑者を警察署から逃げた容疑で調べていますが、何も話していません。

From this article: 大阪府の警察は、樋田容疑者を警察署から逃げた容疑で調べていますが、何も話していません。 Osaka police are investigating Hida on suspicion of escaping from the police station, but are saying nothing. That was my ...
user3856370's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
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How to interpret 分 in the following passage

報酬分は働かせてもらうよ。もちろん追加をもらえりゃあ、その分よく働くってもんさ。 The first sentence is ambiguous to me. Is the second sentence actually an explanation of the first sentence here, i.e. "let me work the amount appropriate to ...
Project Book's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
215 views

〜により used twice in the same sentence

Context: explanation of the Friction Stir Welding process. In the fourth sentence I don't understand why there are two 〜により. ツールの移動により接合界面同士が順次塑性流動により攪拌・一体化 What is that is causing the process? ...
Marco's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is there a contradiction in these sentences?

Context: after being defensive for the whole match, a boxer finally decides to fight with all his power out of respect for his opponent. These are his thoughts: 選手生命を捧げているキミにとってボクシングの存在 ...
Marco's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
227 views

Ambiguity with あまり

I was thinking of giving an answer to this question, but then I remembered that my Japanese is rubbish. I was going to give an example: ケーキはあまり食べない Then I started having doubts about whether this ...
user3856370's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
360 views

General meaning of AとBのC?

Is it (AとB)のC, Aと(BのC), or (AのC)と(BのC) ...?
Jirei's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
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私に言われても versus 私が言われても

I am aware that "言われる" means "to be told". My impression would be that "私に言われても" means "Even if I told you..." while "私が言われても" means "Even if I am told...". But this site answer seems to suggest that ...
Denis Li's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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Misreading Japanese text due to bad kerning (rn→m, cl→d etc.)

Kerning In typography, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. In English and other languages ...
siikamiika's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
1k views

Are Japanese modifiers "greedy", "anti-greedy", or do they mean whatever people choose them to mean?

(I'm a beginner. I just started learning Japanese about a month before I wrote this.) The Japanese Wikipedia article 飛べない鳥, which corresponds to the English Wikipedia article Flightless bird, has the ...
edom's user avatar
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1 answer
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Ambiguous use of はなして?

The younger sister is holding on to the climbing frame, trapped by a wild dog. The older sister is rushing to the rescue: 「お姉ちゃん、来ちゃダメだよ、あぶないよぉ」 Sister, don't come over here. It's dangerous. ...
user3856370's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
283 views

Is Facebook's use of double が grammatically unambiguous?

Facebook has issued me the following alert: Aさんが、Bさんがあなたとシェアした写真について「いいね!」と言っています I think this is a translation of "A likes the photo that B shared with you." Is it obvious what's being said? Why ...
Avery's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
174 views

On the interpretation of an ambiguous(?) sentence from 「風立ちぬ」

I encountered a seemingly ambiguous sentence when reading the novel 「風立ちぬ」 by 堀辰雄 as below: お前の父や、それからまたそういう父をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、素直に身を任せ切っているのではないだろうか? My first impression was that the ...
null's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
231 views

自分 How to know what it means?

自分 can mean myself and yourself but, how do you know when the speaker is referring to him/herself or to you? As in, how could you know when the speaker is saying "myself" instead of "yourself" (to the ...
Yazuzu's user avatar
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1 answer
468 views

たとえ-Continuative-たとしても

「そう、この世界には死者は存在しない。 夢というものは生者が見る共通無意識だ。 故に、すでに死亡したものはこの場に参加する事ができない。 たとえおまえ自身が強く記録し、その復活を望んだ人間がいたとしてもだ。 些細な役回り……そうだな、通行人Aという役割を用意したとしても、死者はこの劇場に入れない。 役割があっても役者がいないという事だ」 In this world ...
Splikie's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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Help parsing a sentence with possibly embed relatives

“はっきりとしてくれないわたしが好きな人”より“はっきりとしているわたしを好きな人”を憎からず はっきりとして=Be clear くれない=not give to me わたしが好きな人=The person I like [はっきりとしてくれない]>わたしが好きな人 so はっきりとしてくれない modifies わたし or はっきりとしてくれない modifies 人 The ...
Splikie's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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に and verbs that take it with もらう

With verbs that don't take に, the matter is simple: わたしは彼に食べてもらった means 'He ate it for me', with a favour being explicit. But how would handles things with verbs that do take に? Would you say ...
Angelos's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
208 views

"社長に議長に田中氏を任命された” is ambiguous?

社長に議長に田中氏が任命された。 i think the possible meanings are: Mr. Tanaka was appointed by the chairman to be the president. Mr. Tanaka was appointed by the president to be the chairman. Is that ...
david.t's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
121 views

About an ambiguous line in 「東京日和」, a song by Komatsu Miho

The line sings: わざと訛って あなたが喋るから ヘンで笑えた 上達してないね 今も I am not sure about the (implied) subject of 「上達してない」. If 'you' were DELIBERATELY speaking with an accent, I guess 「上達してない」 must ...
null's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
755 views

Ambiguity in giving suggesting and asking for suggestions?

When giving/asking for advice using a conditional (Such as たら) can there be ambiguity as to if the speaker is giving or asking for advice? For example 1.) アルバイトを探したらいいですか? Could the above ...
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