The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar)

The most common use of 無理 is probably “impossible.” But it has a wide range of uses.


Yeah, I’d interpret that as those things being deal breakers, personally.


無理 has a really broad meaning: 無理 -
Probably most dictionaries translates this as “unreasonable” as the first meaning, but in common speech especially it is used quite frequently.
It can be said about something when it’s impossible to do (or you don’t want to do this), when something is not good enough, you can’t do something in specific time (eq. you can’t meet with your friends on particular day “この日は無理”) and so on, even person can be 無理. It even can be used to say that something is for example “too good that you can’t even” “これは良すぎて無理”. Or simply say “無理” about anything really. Say 無理 with a blush when someone wants you to do something “エッチイ” and run away (commonly used by girls in anime (probably not really in real life)).
It is used in many slang phrases, so literal translation of this word sometimes doesn’t really work.

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I think the key takeaway from that is 無理 is pretty definitive in meaning. It’s a hard no, not a “probably not”. It’s 100%, definitely, without a doubt, not good, not possible, not right to do, not something you want to do, whatever meaning you use it in - in this particular case, (at least as far as she expresses) there’s no way in hell she’d date someone with any of those qualities. If it were a “I consider these bad things but I guess for the right person I’d be able to look past it” kind of thing I feel like a softer term would be used.


I could try to track down if there’s a basis for the scene in the manga, but I think it’s an “arson, murder, and jaywalking” style joke.

Like, for her someone’s completely out of the question if they’re good for nothing, poor, stinky, miserly, or dead. The punchline’s that requiring a partner be alive is a lot less picky than the other requirements so it’s a funny note to end on, and from her tone with the others, it casts being dead as like, a criticism of or gripe about a potential partner. Like they had promise, say, but had to go and die just to spite her.
That kind of joke’s hard to translate confidently since the jarring note tonal-wise is where the humor comes from!

(oh yeah and I just put together what you meant in the spoiler part, yeah if this took place during that particular part of the story when Itadori is considered dead then yeah I could see part of the joke too being her specifically going out of her way to exclude Itadori.)


Right. What I was trying to emphasize with the “no good” is that, to me at least, 無理 is a “flat” expression. It doesn’t by itself value whether something is or isn’t “good enough” for someone. Something is “no good”, or “impossible” as Leebo said.

EDIT: …and I just realized I confused 無理 with ダメ (the actual “no good”) in the process. :man_facepalming:


Is there any general pattern in Japanese vocab? Like does the order of kanji have any pattern that affect its meaning?

For example, 炊事 = cooking so does it mean the main meaning is 事 and 炊 is working like adj. and 日帰り so 日 telling us that 帰り in a day(日). Of course, I’m talking about vocabs that follow the meaning of their kanji.

I know this is confusing. I’m so sorry English is not my native langauge and I found it difficult to explain technical stuff like this.

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I feel like it’s hard to generalise that because words are not necessarily compounds of the kanji’s meanings. Quite simply put, kanji are not words, and treating them like words is going to trip you up in some situations - like this one.

In some cases, a word may be a compound of multiple words, with the preceding words modifying the last word in the compound - like 青葉, where the 青 acts as a modifier for 葉, or your 日帰り example which is not so much 日帰 with a り after it as it is a compound of 日 and 帰り, but I don’t feel like that’s a general assumption you can make when seeing multiple kanji, as there’s no inherent guarantee multiple kanji also means the word is a compound of multiple words or meanings (even barring ateji).

That said, there are some kanji that almost seem to act like a suffix, 事 and 物 for instance almost tending to act like a suffix meaning “and act or thing with these properties” - but I feel that also makes it more of a compound word than a collection of kanji with a meaning dependent on their order, if that makes sense.

But do know that these are just my thoughts, and I’ve never taken a dive into the subject from a linguistics perspective.


There some kanji combinations that have a slightly different meaning depending on the order, but otherwise I never noticed a particular pattern, especially when okurigana is involved.


The ones borrowed from Chinese are based on Chinese grammar concepts. But they do fit into set categories.


For Jukugo (2 kanji words, generally speaking) yes there are a couple main patterns. If you ever decide taking Kanken (kanji proficiency exam) you will be asked on recognizing them.

They are mainly:

  1. Kanji with similar meaning forming one single word: 寒冷、永久、河川、増加、思考、etc

  2. Kanji with opposite meaning forming one single word: 上下、左右、盛衰、開閉、往復、etc

  3. Second kanji being negated by the first: 未来、否定、不安、無料、etc

  4. Subject + Verb structure: 円高、国営、地震、etc

  5. First kanji modifies the second: 強風、鶏卵、最悪、和食、etc

  6. Verb + Complement structure (a bit weird in Japanese, but it’s actually inheriting Chinese grammar): 握手、洗顔、閉店、求人、etc

Other than that you have some minor cases:

  • Kanji repetition: 時々、人々、散々
  • Actual suffixes: Anything with 的、性 and so on
  • Jukugo abbreviated from proverbs and such: 矛盾、蛇足

For “native” Japanese words, the patterns might not be so clear.


The above patterns do cause some order → meaning nice connections here and there.

For example:
温室 and 室温 both fall on “first kanji modifies the second”, so while 温室 means warm room, 室温 means room temperature.
王国 and 国王 the same, with 王国 meaning a country that is ruled by a king (a monarchy) and 国王 the country’s king.

I would say that knowing “verb + complement”, which is very common despite not being so intuitive, can save you a couple dictionary searches on the long run. The rest are usually rather self-evident, so I wouldn’t worry that much.


Is there any way I could dive down into this topic? Like a book or article to read?

If you are ok with reading in Japanese, you can just search for 熟語の構成 and you will find plenty of info since it is a standard middle school topic in Japan.

I don’t have any English URL at hand right now, tho.


Japanese is fine. Thanks a lot!!!

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Just in case anyone else is looking for it, I found an English article on it: Kanji Compound Words or Jukugo - SakuraMani

But honestly, I didn’t find it specially comprehensive or easy to understand. Just… “better than nothing” level.


And an interesting thing is that sometimes the same word exist in kunyomi with the kanji reversed (and usually a lower registry).
Like 切腹セップクand 腹切はらき (there are a lot more, but right now I don’t recall any other)


躊躇う and 躊躇 show up a lot. Not reversed, but the kun’yomi and on’yomi part at least.


Screenshot from 2021-10-09 17-32-24

What is this kana?

but very low-res