NounのNoun vs NounNoun

I’m doing an online course and there is this sentence -


Some people (not teachers) comment there that even if it’s possible with の ( 秋の服を買います), it sounds more authentic without it. Is it so?

Can you drop me a link to read/watch about NounのNoun and NounNoun patterns in Japanese?


I don’t have a link for you, but sometimes noun compounds happen because the word is just used so often and has become its own concept. Kind of like how most nouns in English get spaces between them, but sometimes they get smushed together.


Thank you for mentioning this! At least I know now that it is a common thing in the language


In essence, the different between the two is that の would indicate two separate concepts, while the absence of の would indicate that the pair

After all, that’s how kanji compounds are formed: at some point, in Japan or even in China, two kanji were combined to form a single concept. However, whether or not it’s ‘more authentic’ depends on actual Japanese usage. If it turns out the Japanese people use 秋服 more commonly than 秋の服 when referring to autumn clothing, then it’s probably true. Otherwise though, I’d imagine it depends on context. I think that if one were commenting on the clothing used in various seasons, it would be more likely to hear someone saying 秋の服は…、冬の服は… for the sake of maintaining parallels and similar structures in the sentence, especially if the overall context is a discussion about the seasons in general. Ultimately though, this is just my opinion. Real Japanese usage is king, and we’ll just have to observe it to find out what really is (or isn’t) natural.

Suddenly remembered that my teacher and his wife (he’s Dutch, the wife Japanese, both translators and have degrees in language), found 雄猫 and other such compounds to indicate the gender of the animal, highly unlikely. Both thought オスの猫 was the by far more common way it was used. Only to find it the other way in a headline not a month later.

It might be a difference between writing and speech as well. Or it differs person to person. Teacher is of course heavily influenced by his wife of 20-25 years.

It can also be influenced by how close you are to the subject. For example コンピューター is commonly spelled with the long sound at the end, but among those knowledgable of computer lingo, it is often spelled コンピュータ, or so I’m told. Obviously I am not one of those people!


My impression is that コンピューター is the standard spelling, but I’ve seen コンピュータ quite a lot. I think it’s partly because the word is very unique, so it’s still easy to identify with a short last syllable. Besides, in all honesty, I don’t think the -ter at the end is dragged out that much in English anyway.

I might be wrong, but I get the impression that kanji compounds are general considered more formal, especially if the kanji compound involves on’yomi while the の form retains kun’yomi. Also, I’ve noticed that titles of formal documents, like the headlines of articles, have a tendency to contain really long chains of kanji with almost no particles, with の omitted as much as possible. Some of these chains are so long that I think even Chinese official documents wouldn’t imitate them. (Yes, Chinese is 100% kanji, but what I mean is that there would probably be more characters that act as particles.) I think all this implies that it’s quite likely that there’s a preference for kanji-only phrases in such situations.

That is true, but with my particular example it is actually the difference between whether 雄/雌 acts as a prefix, or as a noun, actually. Since the animal it refers to usually retains its kun’yomi pronunciation.

Also, sometimes the opposite is true, for example 自分 versus 自ら. And many on’yomi compounds are actually preferred over kun’yomi, maybe because of historical, and traditional connotations? Like 首都 over 都 for example.

Hm…I guess you could see it that way. To me, honestly, it’s more about how ‘close’ the two nouns are and what sort of relationship they share. When I see 雄猫, I just think, ‘Ah, so 猫 is characterised by 雄.’ In my mind, it’s almost like 雄 is an adjective, not a prefix or some other ‘word component’. It’s a word in and of itself. On that note, to me, even in 雄の猫, I see 雄の functioning as an adjective. 雄 and 雌 themselves are more like adjectives, since they always refer to the male/female of a species. They just indicate biological sex, with their noun-like character being implied by context e.g. when they’re used alone. However, I’m coming over from Chinese, so perhaps my perspective is a little different, since I’m used to characters not really being limited to a single grammatical class. In Chinese, a verb can just as easily be used as a noun or an adjective: I just need to phrase my sentence correctly and possibly add a particle.

I’m not really sure whether 自ら or 自分 is more formal… I presume that 自ら is the more formal word? It probably has to do with literary traditions, like how わし is quite a pompous, archaic first-person pronoun. However, I honestly think that the reason on’yomi are often preferred over kun’yomi is because the Sino-Japanese pronunciations probably used to be prestigious, especially when Ancient China was the leading civilisation in the region. After all, most of the scholarly/technical vocabulary in Japanese is either taken from Chinese or written using on’yomi e.g. 銀行 was a word invented in Japan and later imported by China, but the word is pronounced using on’yomi.

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