Japanese/Q&A/Archive 1

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Vocabulary and PhrasesEdit

Questions about how a word is used, how it is different from other similar words, how it can be translated, etc.

I love youEdit

How do you say "I love you" in Japanese? 07:12, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

We scarcely say :] Well it can be "(Anata wo) Aishite imasu" (formal) or "Aishite ru (yo)" (casual) but pehaps "Daisuki (da (yo))" better suits in cases. --marsian 17:31, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

no, not yetEdit

what's "no, not yet" in Japanese? 12:48, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

A good Japanese phrase for "not now", would be: 今駄目 (いま だめ), Ima dame. Ima (今, いま) means "now" and dame (駄目, だめ) is "no good". Shinjitsu 13:31, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

みつ, よつ, etcEdit

On Japanese:Lessons:Native Japanese counting it is taught that 3 can be みっつ or sometimes み (likewise, よっつ -> よ, むっつ -> む, やっつ -> や).

However, on KANJIDIC I also found the entries (三つ -> みつ, 四つ -> よつ, 六つ -> むつ, 八つ -> やつ). Are they equivalent (meaning, usage, formality, etc) to their doubled consonant variation?


Agro1986 14:00, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Quick and inadequate answer comment (note I don't have any classical Japanese literature knowledge... so if you want something related to classics, sorry in advance):
At first, beware that at least these days we rarely say ひ ふ み... etc. みつ よつ むつ... also have limited usages. Well... probably they're just used as part of phrases. We never say "ぼくはみつかった" for "ぼくは三つ買った" (I bought it three). If I hear "ぼくはみつかった", I recognize it as "ぼくは見つかった" (I was found [note: "I was found" is formally: Boku wa mitsuke rareta, but casually and often said as "Boku wa mitsukatta"]). You may wonder whether "ぼくはリンゴをみつかった" is O.K., but we never say that. It doesn't mean a thing, or it's a poem. So, they are not used when you count something (again, at least nowadays).
Now, all I can do is just to show you some examples so please let me do that. For 三つ みつ, I can think of 三つ子 みつご (triplets). Well, in fact this continues as: 四つ子 よつご, 五つ子 いつつご, 六つ子 むつご, 七つ子 ななつご, 八つ子 やつご. For more than 8, I'm not sure. Another example: 三つ編み みつあみ (braid), 四つ辻 よつつじ (crossroad), 八つ橋 やつはし (kind of cinnamon cookie; google image). So perhaps (not sure) these are used for multiples things? No? Oh, help me Mr. or Ms. Linguist!
Another (but not direct) evidence that implies these words are rare is my ATOK does not convert みつ to 三つ or よつ to 四つ and so on. HTH. - Marsian / talk 18:56, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Grammar and SyntaxEdit

Questions about how to use Japanese grammar, differences among grammatical constructions, how to translate grammatical constructions to an from Japanese, etc.

ha vs no hougaEdit

Are "osake ha ocha yori warui" (Japanese:Lessons:Nounphrase particles) and "osake no hou ga ocha yori warui" (Japanese/Lesson Comparisons) equivalent in meaning? 17:24, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Yes, they're almost the same. Possible difference (depends on situations) is something like this:
  • for the latter, perhaps there're just two kinds of beverage: osake and ocha. Or, you just imagine these two in your mind.
  • for the former, the situation may be the same, too. However, this time there can be several kinds of beverage other than osake and ocha, and if that is the case, the expression might imply: "when comparing these two, at least this can be said: ocha is better than osake. But please note that I don't say anything about other drinks such as coffee or juice."
- Marsian / talk 06:55, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm going to change warui (bad) to oishii (delicious, to taste good) because I think it makes a better example. I think the meaning of warui is a little unclear here. It probably means "is bad for you", not "tastes bad".
In osake wa ocha yori oishii, the topic/contrastive marker wa is used. That means that
  • osake is a topic (is either easily understood from context or has previously appeared with ha).
  • wa may be contrastive, that is, it may be contrasting osake with other beverages. "Sake tastes better than tea. (*but* other beverages may not)". Note how this agrees with Marsian's comment that there may be other beverages.
  • the sentence cannot be the answer to a question like
おさけ と おちゃ と どっち が おいしい? (docchi is informal for dochira; dochira is too polite for informal sentences)
"Which one tastes better, sake or tea?"
In osake no hou ga ocha yori oishii, the subject marker ga is used. That means that
  • osake shouldn't be an established topic (shouldn't appear previously with wa). It may be being mentioned for the first time.
ocha wa oishii
Tea tastes good.
osake no hou ga (ocha yori) oishii yo (note: osake wa ocha yori oishii yo is also OK; everyone knows what sake is)
Sake tastes better (than tea).
  • the sentence could be the answer to a question like "Which tastes better, sake or tea?" Note how this agrees with Marsian's comment that in this case only the two beverages are being compared.

In fact, I have a question for Marsian or anyone else. Above I wrote
ocha wa oishii
X no hou ga (ocha yori) oishii yo (note: X wa ocha yori oishii yo is also OK)
Is there any situation where X wa ocha yori oishii yo is wrong for some noun X?
For example, in English we could say
A-san: I'm tall.
B-san: The man that I saw in Japan was taller. (the listener already knows about the man -> は is better? )
A-san: I'm tall.
B-san: A man that I saw in Japan was taller. (the listener is hearing about the man for the first time -> のほうが is better? )
-ToothingLummox 11:54, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, I've never thought of. And even after five-hour thinking (hey, where's your vector analysis, Marsian?!), I'm still not sure what exactly you'd like to know...
First of all, both can be used for both cases regardless whether or not the listener knows the man. However, I prefer のほうが like 「あの人 の ほうが 高いよ」. I don't like 「あの人 は 君 より 高いよ」 because, as you know, we avoid to say obvious pronouns such as 君より(も). In this case, は cannot be used without 君より(も), although there's another possibility 「あの人 は もっと(ずっと) 高いよ」 but this is slightly different in the meaning.
BTW, your point, the/a problem is more likely the matter of the last part of the sentence (I don't know the linguistic term), isn't it? For example (rough translation in English is presented just for other readers),
  • A-san「おれ 結構 背 (が) 高い よね?」 "I'm tall, don't you think so?" ([1])
    1. B-san「(い)や、あの人 (は or のほうが) お前 より 高かった じゃん」 "Well, the man was taller, as you know." - A-san also knows the man. Probably A-san will respond 「あぁ あの人 ね」 "Yeah, he was." ([2])
    2. B-san「(い)や、あの人 (は or のほうが) お前 より 高かった けど な」 "Well, a man was taller..." - A-san may not know the man. If that is the case, probably A-san will ask 「え? あの人 って?」 "Huh? Who's the man?" ([3])
Note I don't actually say は nor のほうが (in fact, I cannot(needn't) specify which one I'm saying(!), which made it difficult to analyze this matter). As you know, this often occurs in real conversations.
... Again, I'm afraid I miss the point. - Marsian / talk 17:20, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
You've answered my question quite nicely, and pointed out a couple of things I hadn't thought of. Thanks.
- ToothingLummox 06:12, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Kanji and Kana QuestionsEdit

Questions about how to write kanji and kana including stroke order, choice of kanji for a given word, which form of writing to use when, etc.

Inconsistent kanji stroke writing?Edit


chikara (http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J4E4F) vs ku (http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J3665)


hidari (http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J3A38) vs migi (http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J3126)

Are those correct? Both pairs have similar shape and I expected them to have similar stroke writing order. Thanks. Agro1986 13:27, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

The stroke order is right, although many Japanese people write the horizontal strokes first on all of these. Here is a Shogakukan (Japanese textbook publisher) webpage of easily miswritten kanji from elementary school with nice little movies.
--ToothingLummox 20:23, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
My favorite example of this is the stroke order for (みぎ) and (ひだり). I couldn't believe it when I learned these were written differently. We will try to include little things like that in the kanji section of the Wikibook.
--Aaronsama 17:30, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Mother StrokeEdit

(やから) contains the radical (あら.ず) and (くるま). That is intuitively obvious.

However, dictionaries (example http://www.nuthatch.com/kanji/demo/6bcd.html) say that (はは) has the (なかれ) radical in it. How? The shape is obviously different! Thanks. Agro1986 05:13, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Radicals are sometimes written differently as part of a character, and sometimes the same radical is written differently in different characters. I think the reasons are mostly historical (orthographic reforms, etc). My dictionary says that the old form of 毎 had 母 on the bottom. Sometimes the radical and the character are quite different. I was surprised to learn that 舎 (pre-WWII form: 舍) can have the radical 舌, and 承 can have the radical 手. You should be aware that some characters have multiple radicals, and that the radical may vary depending on the dictionary.
-ToothingLummox 12:52, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Yowai stroke orderEdit

This is Taka's version: http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J3C65

However, when I view the stroke order from the program Wakan, it disagrees with Taka. Wakan says that the snakey shapes on yowai should be written like the snakey shape here: http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J362F

Which one is correct, Taka or Wakan?

- Agro1986 13:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Hi. I doubt Taka just made a mistake. See, for example, [4], or 弓 on [5]. - Marsian / talk 23:42, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Multiple stroke orderEdit

My friend (which had studied Japanese longer than me) said that some kanji (he mentioned mimi (ear)) can have multiple correct stroke order. Is it true?

Btw I have seen on my brother's Chinese language book that mimi's stroke are written in a different order than taka's (http://taka.sourceforge.net/current/kanji/J3C2A). Since it's a Chinese book my only thought was that Chinese may write the same kanji in a different way.

- Agro1986 13:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Firstly, though I do not know, according to w:ja:筆順,
the stroke orders of Japanese kanjis are different from those of Chinese kanjis
Secondly, for 耳, I thought that Taka's was right. However, it seems there're two ways of writing: See this web page (漢字筆順字典). There're two for 耳 (the first one is Taka and mine, and perhaps more common), and, surprisingly, three for 馬 and four for 必!
Quote from the page:
Standard for stroke orders is "Hitsujun shidou no tebiki (guideline for stroke order teaching)", published by the Ministry of Education in 1958.
However, according to a book named "Hitsujun no kaimei (understanding stroke order)", in the guideline it says that "This is just a guideline and does not intend to negate other stroke orders nor regard them as incorrect."
So, in my opinion, perhaps it's not so bad to follow the "standard" stroke order, but you don't have to stick with it. Actually, I myself do write 弱 as Taka's "wrong" stoke so that I can spare time ;) And more, as you know, we're spending less and less time for "writing", but shifting to "type", where stroke order doesn't mean a thing.
Nevertheless, I'd like to reccomend you to search with "筆順" if you're interested in stroke orders. For example, the two websites above ([6] and [7]) were direct results of googling(search result). HTH. - Marsian / talk 23:42, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Missing ReadingEdit

The kanji 明 "akarui" (bright) and 日 "hi" (day) can be combined to make the word 明日 ("ashita" or "asu") which means tomorrow. My guess is that the 明 is read as "a" and 日 as "shita" or "su". However I am surprised to know that "shita" and "su" is not a reading of 日. It's the same with the kanji "tai" (big) and "hito" (person) that, when combined, reads as "otona" (the kanji hito doesn't have "na" or "tona" as one of its reading on the dictionaries).

So, are the readings missing from the dictionaries or am I missing something :)?

- Agro1986 13:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

These are examples of 熟字訓 (jukujikun), or "compound kun readings". Jukujikun readings are kun readings that apply to the particular combination of characters (jukuji), rather than being the sum of the readings of individual characters. In other words, 大人 is "otona", but the reading applies to the whole word rather than being derived from the readings for 大 and 人. That's why you can't find these readings for the individual characters. Note that some jukujikun are joyo kanji readings ("approved" readings) and some aren't (like "ashita"). Jukujikun readings seem to come up a lot in important time expressions:
一昨日 - おととい the day before yesterday
昨日 - きのう yesterday
今日 - きょう today
明日 - あす or あした tomorrow
明後日 - あさって the day after tomorrow
今朝  けさ this morning
-ToothingLummox 03:56, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
I didn't know the word 熟字訓... ;) I'm not sure if it's jukujikun but 二十日(hatsuka, 20th in a month) or 二十歳(hatachi, 20 years old) is also prominent, and what a small Japanese child might not be able to read.
BTW, though I don't know how exactly you non-Japanese type the words, but if you can use any Japanese-IME (er, Japanese/Computing in Japanese is helpful?), verification is quite easy. Just type it. Both "ashita" and "asu" (plus pressing "spacebar") give 明日. More, you can try "asuka" for 明日香.
In fact, some of us (including me) sometimes forget kanjis since they are too dependent on IMEs. "Ototoi... er... kinou is 昨日, it's clear, but, ototoi...? er... ok, I'll type it with my cell phone...(yes, you can write kana + kanji with japanese cell phone)" - Marsian / talk 23:42, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

I can't write English without typing it in to a spell checker! Gerard Foley 22:44, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure 'kesa' is Jukujitai. The word 今日 is read 'kyou' nowadays, but it used to be read 'kefu', and 'sa' seems like a shortening of 'asa' (similar to the word '裸足' (hadashi), which seems like a combination of 'hadaka' (naked) and 'ashi' (foot). --ܫܘܢܪܐ

始 vs 初Edit

Lurker 4.2 at 17:58, 23 February 2006 (PST?)
I think it is more likely a mistake, but two different kanji used for hajimemashite in the first part of the introduction (Konnichiwa/Formal salutations). First, in the Phrases section, the kanji 始 is used. Later, in Grammatical Construction, 初 is used instead. Which is correct? If both are correct, why can one word be written with two different characters? -- Lurker 4.2
Ok, you will find both, but 初めまして is preferred, especially among younger speakers (graph of usage by age group). The two characters have similar meanings; 始 means begin while 初 means for the first time.
It's not that uncommon for there to be more than one acceptable way to write a Japanese word, especially native Japanese words. Keep in mind that at some point in the past, Chinese characters were pressed into service to represent native Japanese words. So the Chinese character for horse 馬 is now the Japanese kanji for uma (horse). For more difficult words, who's to say that only one Chinese character is a good match? In fact, in some cases the characters are actually used to add meaning- the same basic native Japanese word is written with different characters depending on the nuance. かえる (kaeru, to change) is a good example of this:
変える change (the nature or character of one thing)
換える convert (something into something entirely different), go from one thing to another
替える replace, switch
代える substitute for, use in place of
Orthographic reforms, stylistic reasons (artistic types can and do assign nonstandard readings to characters), and double meanings (perhaps to write something using more auspicious kanji) are other reasons that words are written different ways.
ToothingLummox 14:17, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Culture and HistoryEdit

Questions about the Japanese mindset, how Japanese react to different situations, how Japanese history affects modern life, etc.



I have a Japanese aunt. She speaks English well, with a very strong Japanese accent. She once talked to my mom one day about getting her license. Mom thought she said "rice ends". So, my aunt explained that the Japanese often confuse L with R since they don't have the former. Do the Japanese really have no L? -- 20:51, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

(please be aware I'm NO linguist) Hmm, I don't know if we do not have L, but it's true we do not need to distinguish R and L. It's simply unnecessary. Although in romaji, the characters are written as "Ra, Ri, Ru, Re, Ro" (see Japanese/Kana and others for more) but even if you pronouce them as "La, Li, Lu, Le, Lo", no one will mind it, or, they even might not notice the differences. For example, a camel is ラクダ (rakuda) in Japanese, but I believe you can safely pronounce it as "Lakuda" and everybody'll understand what you're talking about. In fact, I doubt in this case it's more like Lakuda than Rakuda... but you know, I don't know if I can tell the differences, so... ;) - marsian 12:41, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
The Japanese sound written with "R" is actually neither the English R sound nor the English L sound, so asking which sound is "missing" is somewhat misleading.
From the wikipedia article on Japanese pronunciation:
  • /r/ (transcribed ɺ̠ above) is a lateral apical postalveolar flap. It is similar to the Korean r. To an English speaker's ears, its pronunciation lies somewhere between a flapped r /ɾ/ (as in American English better and ladder), an l, and a d, sounding most like d before /i/, and most like l before /o/.
In other words, if you say "Eddie" quickly, you'll almost be saying eri (collar).
As Marsian points out above, most Japanese speakers can't distinguish the English R sound from the English L sound (although with a little practice they definitely can pronounce them more than adequately). If you are speaking Japanese and aren't sure how to make the Japanese sound, you can get away with an English L sound.
ToothingLummox 09:01, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

n followed by kEdit

In the second lesson of the introductory course on Japanese (Japanese/Lessons/Introduction/Konnichiwa/Pronunciation), the moraic n (without the apostrophe) is said to come only before m, b, or p. However, it does not leave clear how to pronounce the nk in words like benkei. Is this another case of the moraic n or is it pronounced differently?

Well... I do not know grammar. It's not my part. I just rec for you   Ja-benkei.ogg (sorry a bit loud maybe). --marsian 17:31, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I think the text just says that moraic n sounds like m before m, b, or p. The moraic n certainly comes before other consonants. Before k and g, it sounds like the English ng in sing. But this is the way n is pronounced before k in English too. If you don't believe me, try saying sink without pronouncing the k. --ToothingLummox 10:41, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

How is -ei pronounced in japanese?Edit

I don't know who posed this question, but:

When in the middle of the word, 'ei' is usually pronounced as -ee- (long vowel e, not like English double e, but more like 'eeh'), for example: beikoku (USA), keiko (practise), seinen (youth, young man, adult age), meishi (business card), keitai (cell phone), eiga (movie). When it comes at the end of a word, it can be pronounced the same way (for example: gakusei (student), although I've also heard this as '-ei'), but in some cases it is more like the -ei as in the English 'vein', especially for short words like for example: rei (zero), tokei (watch, clock). Shinjitsu 13:00, 30 September 2007 (UTC)