Question about 市立 and 私立

Hello! So I just made the wonderful discovery that 市立 and 私立 are seemingly antonyms and homophones at the same time. For people who are much more fluent than I am, in your experience, is one used more often than the other? Is there a more common synonym that is used to replace either of those words? Or is it one of those context things I’m gonna have to suck up and deal with?

For context, I teach at a 市立学校, while my good friend teaches at a 私立学校. You can see where the confusion can start… :sweat_smile:


No, see, that’s what gets me with these two words: because they’re antonyms, context doesn’t help. It’s like, the one thing that helps you keep words straight in Japanese just doesn’t work here. Either word could be affixed to any given school, and you wouldn’t know which is which unless you see it written down.


Yeah it is a pretty unfortunate coincidence. I’ve heard native speakers clarify by using the kun’yomi. So they’ll say いちりつ(市立) and わたくしりつ(私立). I’m not sure if this is universal, but I did hear it a couple times so it seems common enough


I also heard 市立 as いちりつ and 私立 as わたくしりつ as well. Back when I was having formal Japanese classes, one teacher explained to us that it’s not technically correct, but it’s the only way to be sure.


My understanding is that 市立 means “municipal”, in the since that it’s run by the city. 私立 is “private (instution)”. So, 市立大学 could also be called 公立大学. So, if you’d like to have a synonym that would help differentiate I would probably 公立大学 might be the word to use, maybe?


municipal generally does refer in english to town/village, like as in ‘municipal services’ is typically taken to mean city services such as road repair, trash pickup, water utilities, etc.

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