The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar)

I mean, I think it would probably get mixed up with the actual name if it were in kanji, but yeah, I was just curious, and more importantly, I was asking how it would be written with kanji in order to see if I could find out what it means: I tend to use kanji as a proxy for interpreting word meanings, unless, of course, I’m looking at a word that isn’t written with kanji to begin with.

That’s more information that I thought to get considering my googling results, so thank you! I will put both on my flashcard, おおとびら first, and call it good. I appreciate your efforts! :blush:


How come 雇用者 is translated as both employer and employee on WK and jisho? Sounds pretty troublesome. This is probably not used in hiring contracts describing responsiblities of each party.

I dunno if this really answers the “how come” question, but wikipedia has a rundown of words used to describe either or both parties:


So it does sound like it can mean either. I suppose the answer to “how come” is just because of how the word is made up - 雇用者 could be a 雇用する者 or a 雇用される者, so to speak. And yeah, if the distinction was critical or not obvious through context, one of those alternatives could be used, like 雇い主 or 被用者.

I also notice the article also says “その雇用者・雇用主のペア” a few times, so I guess that’s an example where the context makes it clear it means employee.


Only slightly off-topic, look up the phenomenon of Contronyms in English and realize that all languages suck :wink:


I think it’s just a result of Chinese grammar being a little ambiguous when a verb is used to modify a noun. (Japanese is too, when you think about it, just that using する or される after 雇用 can make things clearer. Even then though, the resultant clarity is just something we get from habitual interpretations based on whether what comes next is more likely to be a subject or an object.) For example, 打的人 (的 being the ‘modification/possession particle’; 打 meaning ‘hit’; and 人 being ‘person’) can mean both ‘the person who hit (someone or something)’ and ‘the person who was hit’. Which it means exactly is made clear by the presence of other elements in the sentence like a subject for 打 or an object for 打.

If I were interpreting these words in Chinese, I would probably assume 雇用者 means ‘employer’, and I would probably use 被雇用者 for ‘employee’, but that’s because 者 is usually used to replace the subject of a particular verb in Chinese and 被 is the passive voice marker, though it doesn’t always need to be used. In Japanese though, 者 is more vague, so when you add that to the innate vagueness of 雇用, it becomes possible to have two meanings.


I was somewhat disappointed by a lot of the examples.
Many of them were incredibly amusing, but a lot of them were a giant stretch. Worse even, sometimes I thought the example itself was misunderstood. I read one, “To toss out an idea,” which was proposed, and I only thought that it was obvious the speaker is metaphorically throwing it, and that it wasn’t Contrary at all. About half of the contronyms felt misunderstood, from my perspective. Some of them were so good they had me rolling on the floor laughing, though, so I second your recommendation to check out the topic of Contronyms. :slight_smile:


Except without context that’s not obvious at all. It can mean proposing something, or rejecting a proposal, and without knowing the situation it’s impossible to know which.

If anything, my first instinct is to interpret it as the exact opposite of what you say - if I were to propose something I’d be much more likely to say I’m throwing itout there than to say I’m tossing out the idea, which very much sounds like I’m saying it’s a nice proposal but we’re not gonna do that.

Which list were you looking at? From the “toss out an idea” thing I’d say it might be this one:

In which case not all of them are contronyms per se (“stone” for instance - ambiguous, sure, but “throw stones at someone” is hardly the opposite of “remove the stone from a fruit”) but I didn’t really see anything in there which I’d see as misunderstood. The author just conflates homonym with contronym a few times, but there’s ambiguity in all of them and the majority are, indeed, contronyms.


So I’ve been playing Nioh recently and at one point one of the allies helping you, when she gets hit, says 私なら大丈夫. This is translated as “I’m fine” but it sounded to me more like a sort of “I’m here to take the blows for you” - as in “if/as long as it’s me they’re hitting, that’s fine”.

DeepL (I know, not the most reliable source, but I use it to check my assumptions every now and again) however seems to agree with the game here (plus, since basically all of the game is spoken in Japanese I assume the translators are of the level to be able to translate something as basic as that) and I’m just wondering why it’s translated that way. I always interpreted なら as indicating a conditional but in this case it almost feels like a topic marker instead. Does it have that sort of function too? Like a replacement for は with a slightly different nuance or something?

no that’s literally what i meant
in both cases you’re just throwing

edit: also I looked through several lists, most of which contained a lot of words I don’t find confusing or contrary at all. again, some of them are very high quality, but others are just a stretch.

It’s that “throwing out” can both mean proposing and dismissing, which are contrary, not that they don’t both mean throw. But it isn’t really important, in all the lists I’ve seen some seem more like stretches to some people than others.

I’ve read that は as a topic marker is a descendant of the ば conditional, so… :wink:

But yeah without any other context I would interpret this as “For me/If it’s me, this is fine (but this kind of blow might fell someone else).”

I can maybe see it meaning your translation in a different context said in a particular way with particular emphasis. But as a stock line stated when a game character takes a hit, I’d interpret it the first way.


Keep in mind DeepL can’t make intuitive leaps to satisfy implied parts of the sentence, and subtitles (?) for barks during battle are going to prioritize flow over exact meaning a lot.

I agree with QuackingShoe about it.
I think if the character’s a tank and it is literally their job to take blows, a flowery translation that leans on the conditional would be great, but “I’m fine” is a totally fine translation too, since that’s basically all she’s definitely saying. Since the heat of battle breaks things down even more than implying stuff already does, I think it would be very difficult to have a translation that sounds normal in English that captures exactly the same implication (without making a judgment call about the context, or changing the flow).

There’s a very similar example in this tofugu article by the way (near the bottom):


Sounds very confident, almost bragging to me ? (depends on the tone)

A common compliment to someone is
Nameさんならできる ! Nameさんなら大丈夫 ! Literally, if it’s nameさん, it’s fine. The implication is that If it has been someone else it would not be possible/not be fine, but because it’s nameさん it will be ok.

Applied to oneself, because it’s me, because I’m so good, it’s fine. Another person would be in trouble, but not me.


You also need to consider conversational triggers for this statement (if any). It could even be something like
‘You OK?’
‘If you mean me, yeah, I’m fine.’

なら definitely feels like は at times if you ask me, but in essence, it places emphasis on a particular thing as a special case or indicates that something is being considered separately from everything else. In this case, it could even be a sort of invitation on that ally’s part to trust her because of something that she specifically can do. ‘I’ve got this.’ I think that’s how it feels.


Well, you know how it is in games, your character is the one and only person who can save the world and the rest is just there as cannon fodder so you can do the Big Good Thing :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Aside from that the character who says this is not at all a particularly “tough” or tanky character in that sense so saying something like “oh I can take this, but other people couldn’t” would be a bit out of character for her. The idea of “I’m willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good” not as much.

That’s actually really interesting!

Jisho does actually list as for; on the topic of​ as a possible meaning of なら which might mean it is in fact a sort of topic marker here. The game also takes place in Sengoku era Japan so the language used might be a bit archaic here and there, maybe that plays into it as well.

I did some further digging and Wikitionary actually lists topic marker as a possible use for なら:なら

So it seems it’s not completely out of left field either.

Both valid points, but the thing is there’s nothing implied here that I can see leading to the translation “I’m fine” per se. In fact, that translation is dropping the なら as a conditional entirely. Which is something DeepL can sometimes do, but the weird thing (to me) is that something along the lines of your and QuackingShoe’s translation is only one of four offered translations (that one being “I can handle it”). The others are “I’m fine”, “I’ll be fine” and “I’ll be okay” respectively, further giving me the impression that なら is a topic marker instead in this sentence.

As for flow being more important than accuracy… Yeah, that’s a very good point and it’s definitely possible that the translators just used something close enough and in-character because expressing all the same nuance in English would be too long-winded.

Well, that’s part of my confusion… She’s not :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: As in, not at all. She’s more the “stick to the shadows and avoid getting in trouble” kind (no really, she’s a ninja, she’s not even wearing armor or anything). But it’s not completely unthinkable for her to be a bit self-sacrificial in the particular scenario she was in, which is why I initally interpreted it as something along those lines instead of basically bragging about how she can take more blows than others.

Unless you count a rifle shot as a conversational trigger… Yeah, there are none :joy:

Yeah okay, that makes sense. Basically “I’m fine” with the added implication of “don’t worry about me and just do what you need to do” (which is basically impossible to imply in English subtitles without adding basically that whole sentence for context).

So all that basically leads me to conclude that なら can in fact be kind of a topic marker, but with added emphasis. And that might well be how it’s used in this scenario since using it in the more common (in today’s Japanese anwyay, from what I can tell) <person>なら interpretation (which would be like bragging about how tough she is in this sentence) is out of character for this person.

I’m not overanalysing random short voice clips, you’re overanalysing random short voice clips

Thanks for thinking along everyone!


That’s how I used to think about it. You just need to remember that なら can also be used with verbs to identify specific ‘cases’ that require consideration. That’s where most of the differences kick in. That aside, I think なら is related to なり, which means it’s more like a form of だ・である, but the ‘emphasised topic marker’ interpretation seems to work well for most non-verb cases.

Just one more possibility (whether this makes sense depends on her backstory, personality and tone): she could also be saying it to reassure and encourage herself if she’s the sort to grit her teeth and more or less suffer in silence as she pushes through things. As for how that might work… it’s probably something like taking「お前ならできる」 and internalising it as a form of self-talk.


Hadn’t even considered the “character’s internal monologue vocalised for the player’s benefit” option… But I guess that also does fit with the character :thinking: Either way it’s good to remember this is a possibility as well (not specifically related to Japanese, this is a possibility in every language of course, but for future situations I might be wondering about)

So like a conditional form of なる (as the copula, not as in “to become”) then? Makes sense, feels to me like it’s probably closely related to the ~たら conjugation, I’ve always kind of connected that with なら in my mind. Not entirely sure why beyond a superficial similarity (but when looking at etymological relationships that’s usually a good first sign).


Sort of. What I got from Goo辞書 and one other source is this:
You can basically treat なら as the 仮定形 (hypothetical form i.e. conditional form) of だ. However, it used to be the 未然形 (irrealis form i.e. unrealised action form that we use for negations in modern Japanese) of なり (this is how it’s actually listed in dictionaries, because this was how it appeared at the ends of sentences in Classical Japanese). There was no ‘conditional form’ in Classical Japanese. However, seeing as the irrealis is what used to be attached to ば for purely hypothetical conditions in Classical Japanese… yup, it’s more or less that.

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Can anyone explain why 福 displays differently as text than what WK teaches, or even than the option I am selecting in the below photo?

that’s chinese
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