How to go about words with multiple meanings & Rude words?

Hi folks,

I’ve been using WK since August and I’m really happy with my progress. I’m definitely recognizing more words and learning kanji faster than I ever had in school Japanese classes. However, I can’t help but feel confused trying to contextualize certain Vocab words. For example, we have a word in my current level 想定, meaning “Hypothesis, Supposition, Assumption.” When you look at the example sentences, the meaning gravitates towards to when you’re making an assumption or had some sort of expectation. So why is hypothesis even there? Sometimes I find the main meaning of words doesn’t really get the gist right. What are your strategies for understanding the contexts of these words, many with the same meanings as other words.

Point 2, referring to “rude words.” I was talking with a Japanese person the other day about an upcoming trip of mine. I used the word 見物 to talk about sightseeing (and felt pretty proud of myself for remembering a vocab word), but she just looked at me and said Japanese people don’t really use that word and it’s actually impolite! (観光 is much more appropriate) Obviously I’d have no way of knowing, but it’s causing me to distrust some of the WK vocab definition choices, especially since people talk about all the weird words you encounter. Is there any list of “bad WK vocab” that I should look out for? How do yall go about this?

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You compare them to words you actually see/hear in Japanese media.

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With the example you gave, 想定, hypothesis still works… technically. I mean you have to have a hypothesis (or make a guess) in order to make an assumption, really. So I can see how it’s related. But you’re absolutely right that it’s not exactly the same. ((As an aside, go me for remembering the reading upon seeing this! I recently reset my level.)) You can always double check the meanings during your lessons, or when you encounter the kanji in the wild with your favourite dictionary (or dictionaries) of choice, then add the meaning that makes the most sense to you, considering, as a user synonym.

However, WK’s main goal is to teach you to read the kanji, not how to speak Japanese. It is possible that something common in literature is not common in everyday speech. In English, things have changed enough, too. Even certain hand gestures that were “okay” before ((literally)) are now considered rude (and worse, offensive). Language changes.

I don’t think there’s a list like that that you’re looking for… however, people have been asking the WK staff to add tags like “slang” etc. to certain vocab items. VERY weird, in my opinion, that a word like 見物 is considered rude though. I wonder if maybe whomever you were talking to was more upset with how you phrased your sentence as a whole…, or maybe even misheard you? Jisho is pretty good about saying whether something is slang, and it does not for that entry.

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I was mainly taken about by it being rude too. There was no miscommunication, she’s an English teacher in Japan an we were discussing the word. She just told me it would be impolite to say you went sightseeing somewhere and used that word. I think a “slang” or a tag like “uncommon” would be helpful. I’m in a situation where I use Japanese every day at work, so I try to use new words when I’m talking a lot, but I can tell when something I say is weird based off people’s reactions. It’s all a learning process for me lol!

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If she’s a teacher, did you ask her why it was impolite? I wonder if she even has an answer for you, herself. Maybe it’s only uncommon, and she didn’t express that correctly. Weird.

… It’s very probable a lot of the vocab you learn at WK will be “weird” though. There used to be lots of threads about that, once upon a time. Perhaps you should search the forum a bit.

Also, that’s very admirable of you, too! I’m sure everyone will understand that you’re just trying to learn the language, and cut you some slack. :+1:

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I have had a similar experience with my online Japanese teacher who I’ve been learning from for the last two years (albeit on and off). I used the same word for sightseeing (見物) during one of our class a couple months back, but she didn’t say it was rude. Only that it wasn’t common and not normally used.

It might very well be as AnimeCanuck said. Maybe she has a broader definition of rude being not normally used? Curious to know what her reasoning was as well if she gave one.

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You don’t learn words in isolation, you learn them through immersion. You might memorize them in isolation, but that’s not the same thing. There are few words you could get a grasp of without seeing them in immersion a dozen or so times.

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A dictionary, ideally a monolingual dictionary, would go a long way towards remedying these issues. Kind of a hard ask at level 12, though. WK and jmdict based tools (so basically everything popular) oversimplify things for learning purposes. I’m not a fan, but in practice it just means you have to solidify your understanding of these things through context. As in, “words you actually see/hear in Japanese media” from the first response.

I don’t want to say to take things with a grain of salt, but just be open minded that “learning” WK stuff comes with a certain degree of “oh they mean that kind of thing” as you get into more abstract terms.

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Here is the notoriously rude and slangy publication NHK using 見物 to talk about watching Awa Odori.

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Well I now feel less worried about 見物 being one of my leeches!

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Rumor has it that 5 days before the shooting, Shinzo Abe said to his soon to be assassin “あなたのお母さんは見物です” which led to the events that would follow.

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Here is the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival scandalously referring to their own sightseeing guide for the activities as 見物ガイド

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Actually, I still don’t understand. If it is scandalous enough, why would the website still be there and updated?

I don’t find monolingual explaining much either.

I’m joking.

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I thought so when I read your post, clicked your link, and google translated the page! :sweat_smile:

But I couldn’t be sure whether any parts of the website had a sort of explanation somewhere why they’d be using such a scandalous word for their activities :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It looks like it can be used in the “rubbernecking” sense as well, so I guess 観光 is more incontrovertibly about tourism, but I think it’s hard to take offence nonetheless. At the very least my tutor didn’t seem to object when I used it.

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