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41

This question frequently comes up among foreigners in Japan, especially men, as it seems there's a feeling that sticking with 私{わたし} is somehow too "textbook". It's as if using 私{わたし} is an indication of still learning, or perhaps not yet having been integrated into Japanese language and culture enough. Men often wonder if they should use 僕{ぼく}, or 俺{おれ} ...


37

Quick related side story: Recently I was with my friend who is much better at Japanese than me. So much so that I won't try in this story to emulate the Japanese he used, because I'd just mess it up. It was a cold day and we were in a liquor store to buy some ice. We couldn't find as much as we needed, so we asked if there was more in back. The older woman ...


32

The thing to keep in mind is that this isn't a ritualized situation, such as the 只今{ただいま}/お帰{かえ}り, "I'm back" / "welcome back", call and response pattern. When you come and go from the office or home, there are set patterns. This restaurant situation isn't like that. Specific to your questions, there is no usual exchange between customer and cashier when ...


27

The answer is right on the 警視庁 (metropolitan police department)'s website. Basically it says that it is common to use foreign words as-is if there is no similar cultural counterpart, using sumo and kabuki as examples. Koban is an unfamiliar idea in most cultures, so that's why they decided to go with using "koban" as is. The koban system has been introduced ...


24

Japanese here. I find it fine to say ありがとう for the first two, although どうも is more common. Not saying anything is perfectly acceptable. You can also nod, which is very common. When you leave the restaurant, it is common to say ごちそうさまで~す or ごちそうさまでした. If you are female, ごちそうさまでした would be more common. It is perfectly ok to leave without saying anything. ...


24

I think the word [時間]{じかん} was created in the Meiji era, but the word [時]{とき} is older. So it's definitely wrong that "the Japanese didn't have any interest in clocks (until 1871)". I searched in an old-Japanese dictionary and found the usage of 「とき」 in 竹取物語: [宵]{よひ}うち[過]{す}ぎて、[子]{ね}のときばかりに Here, the word [子]{ね}のとき refers to a certain time which is ...


19

Apologies if you did already realize this, but it seems like maybe your troubles are arising here because you aren't aware of the range of meanings of the word ガキ大将. (You can find it in Daijirin and Wikipedia etc. using the all-kanji spelling 餓鬼大将.) It has a lot of cultural baggage attached -- the Showa nostalgia level is over 9000, for starters -- but an ...


19

Addendum The word 時{とき} is probably the oldest native Japanese word for "time". This term appears in the 万葉集{まんようしゅう} written in Old Japanese and compiled from poems composed from the 300s through the 700s, completed some time after 759 CE. These are some of the oldest surviving examples of written Japanese, suggesting that this term is quite ancient ...


18

It's like this: Teacher: 「野田{のだ} 努{つとむ}さん。」 野田: 「はい。」 T: 「いわい 隆{たかし}さんですかね?しゅくさんですか?」(the surname reads 祝) 祝: 「はふりです。」 T: 「はふりって読むんですか。珍しい名前ですね。はふり たかしさん。」 祝: 「はい。」 This conversation has actually taken place in my twelfth grade first classroom. Note: People with easy-to-read names don't end up in this kind of awkward conversation very often. Still, ...


17

I am ハーフ, and for what it's worth the term has never caused me to take offense, nor did it seem like any was ever intended. When I was in elementary school in Japan, if I got into scuffles, the preferred label was 外人, though not even that is necessarily offensive outside of the context of a schoolyard spat. In short, if you aren't immediately offended by ...


17

Good question! 「米国」 According to Japanese Wikipedia, the pronunciation of American was メリケン during the Meiji period, and was rendered into kanji as 「米利堅」 Since the first character is 米 (べい、まい、めい) the abbreviation became 米国. This was despite the fact that the full kanji representation of アメリカ is 亜米利加. I suspect it was because 亜 is already used to represent ...


17

Matt's answer is right enough, and Axioplases's description does have historical accuracy, but I felt differently enough to propose another answer. First, here is the truck in question, with the words カンガルー便 written on the side, "backwards". Note, though, that the text for the parent company, Seino, is the "right" way round, presumeably because it's in ...


16

I think this question is relevant: What do you mean, "In Japanese there are no words for "I’m suffering""? Also a little googling leads to a quote where this is clearly being used metaphorically by the speaker (presuming this is even an accurate quote/translation and not made up): Captain Sasaki of the Yokahama Guards: "There is no ...


15

From what I've observed, it varies from shop to shop: by publisher → by author name → by book title by author name → by book title by library → by series number (In case of 文庫 [ぶんこ] (library), 新書 [しんしょ] (library of pocket-sized paperbacks) by relevance/context (in untraditional bookstores like ヴィレッジ・ヴァンガード, 松丸本舗 [まつまるほんぽ]) Also, 文庫 and ...


15

I am too soft-spoken a person to be familiar with cuss words, but here are some examples in no particular order. 「畜生{ちくしょう}」 「くそっ」 「くそったれ」 「てめえ」 「てめえ、この野郎{やろう}」 「この野郎」 「くそ野郎」 「ボケ」 「死{し}ね」 「死{し}にやがれ」 「くたばれ」 「このくそガキ」 「くそ食{く}らえ」 「ざけんな」 「ざけんな、ボケっ」 「ざけんじゃねえ」 etc. Around Nagoya, we have 「たあけ」, which comes from the old, elegant word 「戯{たわ}け」. Stop me now or I'...


15

During the Edo period, villages traditionally had 10 communal activities: 冠 - 成人式 - coming of age ceremony 婚 - marriage 建築 - helping with building/repairing 病気 - helping when sick 水害 - helping during flooding/water damage 旅行 - travel 出産 - giving birth 年忌 - death anniversaries 葬式 - funeral service 火事 - fire fighting However, when ...


14

Not a bona fide answer, in that I am not confident enough to provide you with a reliable example of what you should be saying, but I can definitely tell you how you should not be saying it (despite some suggestions in the comments to your question): Any sentence that starts by a word expressing disagreement. Anything that hints at an actual error made by ...


14

Since no-one else has answered, let me try to chip away at the edges a bit. Disclaimer: I am not a native speaker, not young, not single, and not even an ex-player, so my intuitions might be quite far from those of hip young Tokyoites. There is the phrase 良い雰囲気になる. It literally translates to something like "arrive at/be in a state such that there is a good ...


14

According to Zokugo-dict: Masuo-san refers to the husband of Sazae-san in the popular anime "Sazae-san", Fuguta Masuo. Masao-san lives together with Sazae-san and their parents at their parent's home, and it's come to mean a person who lives at their wife's parents' home. Furthermore, it's become used in a broader sense to refer to a son-in-law ...


14

Perhaps you have to give up on the idea that "there should be a perfect equivalent of hello in Japanese (or in Kyoto)". Different languages have different sets of greetings. Some common phrases like いってきます and よろしくおねがいします are difficult to translate to English. Where you expected hello, you might have heard いらっしゃいませ, どうも, もしもし, すみません or おつかれさまです instead. ...


14

I'm not sure if this is within the scope of your question, but the following is about highly stereotyped traits of "gaijin-speech" found in manga and net forums. They are explained in pages like this, this and this. Please note that they do not reflect how foreigners speak Japanese in reality. Unsurprisingly, some of them are rude or displeasing especially ...


13

You have to read the last sentence in the next paragraph to get your specific answer. I borrowed a good letter example from a site with a lot of business templates. First of all, you have to say the addressee's name, career, and you have to say "Sama", and it should be delimited with line breaks and followed by two line breaks (Or maybe carriage returns. ...


13

There are two different issues to consider here. The first is right-to-left horizontal writing as explained by Axioplase. (Note: Sometimes this is considered a special case of vertical writing, with columns of height one as your wife suggested. This is not necessarily the case. For example, the ー (choonpu) is always written horizontally rather than ...


13

So I'm wondering, is this just a reporter's ham-fisted attempt to inflate the human drama by painting a picture of a cruel and uncaring Japanese culture that exacerbates eating disorders? There could be several reasons I can think of: The Japanese woman who said this might of meant it "metaphorically" rather than "literally", in the sense that there is a ...


13

Actually 邪 has a long history of being used for its sound alone, going back at least to the Warring States Shakespeare, Zhuangzi: 天之蒼蒼、其正色邪。其遠而無所至極邪。 The sky looks very blue. Is that its real color, or is it because it is so far away and has no end? [tr. Burton Watson] Here the character 邪 is twice used simply to represent the sound of asking a ...


13

In my experience, the nature of the relationship and the nature of the communication are both important for knowing when/how to use the plain form and to knowing what the use of plain form signals. In written workplace communication, I never see plain form (I work at a university). In written personal communications (things like Facebook or IM), I rarely ...


12

In my 故事ことわざ辞典、「木を見て森を見ず」 is from English phrase "You cannot see the woods for the trees". And regarding plural form, 「木」 can mean many trees in Japanese, since Japanese grammar does not always have plural form. And also In 国語辞典、explanation of 「木を見て森を見ず」 is 一本一本の木に目を奪われて全体の森を見ない意から using 一本一本の木, which means each tree instead of 一本の木 (one tree). So, 「...


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