たくさん vs. 沢山 - which is more commonly used?

I have previously always seen たくさん used, but those reading materials were largely textbooks rather than ‘in the wild’.

I recently started studying a supposedly-N4-level anki deck (TheMoeWay Tango N4) where I’ve been surprised to see 沢山 used rather than たくさん.

The example sentences that I’ve seen in Shirabe Jisho also use たくさん, even though the entry shows the 沢山 kanji.

That makes me wonder whether or not 沢山 is normally seen in the wild.

The anki deck has also thrown some other surprises at me, for example, it has used 余り to mean ‘not much’ instead of あまり even though I’ve previously only seen that written in hiragana.

So I’m thinking that it’s a quirk of the anki deck - maybe just intended to teach those kanji (I have not run into those words in WK, at least not yet) - so it’s OK, but it still has me wondering…

6 Likes

jpdb lists roughly 80/20 in favor of たくさん, but that’s still a lot (ahem) of 沢山.

18 Likes

OK, that’s interesting - I didn’t know that there was a usage frequency reference (I’ll have to take a look at jpdb - I’ve been there before a few times, but with the current embarrassment of riches as far as Japanese learning and reference sites I haven’t fully scoped out where to find what)…

3 Likes

As another datapoint, I did a search on NHK news’ web form, and it found 1800 instances of たくさん and 9 instances of 沢山, so it doesn’t seem to a quirk of JPDB’s manga and anime heavy dataset either. Jisho also carries the “usually written in kana” tag.

4 Likes

also with jpdb, seems like aozora, web novels and visual novels write it as 沢山 the most. (lower number = more usage)
image

7 Likes

Google n-gram corpus counts via wwwjdic:

たくさん 35886037 76.0%
沢山 11334319 24.0%

No surprise it turns up a lot more in Aozora texts – those are heavily biased to pre-war texts which were much heavier in their kanji usage for this kind of word. Very few instances on the NHK site also fits my expectations – newspapers etc tend to more strictly follow the government guidelines on kanji usage. I am surprised about the web novels using the kanji form so often, though. Perhaps amateur authors are more inclined to just take the kanji option in their IME, whereas professional editors at publishers might shift a text more towards the “normal” kana/kanji options in the editing process?

Kanjifying あまり is a lot less common, incidentally – only 6.5%. I suspect the creator of the deck you’re using has just over-enthusiastically put in the kanji for any word with a kanji in the dictionary. The JLPT test will not be using the kanji versions, especially at N4.

あまり 36858224 73.3%
あんまり 10149069 20.2%
余り 3284963 6.5%
餘り 8121 0.0%
5 Likes

This is purely my opinion and I have nothing to back this up, but the vibe I get from using 沢山 over たくさん is that you’re trying to appear intelligent/academic and/or think quite highly of your own intelligence. I’ve never read a web novel, but I could 100% see an author thinking quite highly of their own intelligence and thinking that using kanji for words more commonly in hiragana demonstrates that. Like kind of カッコつけている

3 Likes

No, not really, I’ve seen the Kanji version in games like Paper Mario. It’s more of a “balance” thing.

4 Likes

In my experience Japanese authors often use different written forms to emphasize different character’s personalities, so less common kanji forms crop up quite frequently. At least in stuff aimed at younger people.

3 Likes

Sure, I’ve seen that too; but it doesn’t explain why the kanji form would be more common in web novels specifically and not so much in books, because as a stylistic trick it’s not specific to web novels.

1 Like

8dgunc

4 Likes

I think it might be quite common in books aimed at teenagers. Although a fair number of those started as web novels, so…

3 Likes

My feeling is that it depends a lot on the author which of those “small” words they write in kanji; I’m sure I read books that featured 沢山 but it really varies from author to author. My current book’s author (for example) likes 殆ど a lot and it took me quite some time to get used to it :sweat_smile:

3 Likes