The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar)

Ah, yeah, that’s helpful. Thank you!

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The best way to find the accurate meaning of a vocab is using a Jap-Jap dictionary, right? Especially, when there are two or more vocab that have the same meaning in other langauges.

Or is there any other approach?

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The gesture known as “air quotes” that kinda represents the shape of the quotation marks used in English, is there an equivalent gesture used among Japanese speakers that kinda looks like 「」?

Good question! I’d be thrilled to be contradicted, but it doesn’t seem like it – I found this explainer for air quotes directed at Japanese people watching American dramas (via finding the term エアクオート via wikipedia):

… and I scanned it and didn’t see any mention of such a gesture, which I would imagine would be relevant if it existed.
Someone should try to introduce one though!

Otherwise I would imagine the equivalent would just be the same gesture. As modeled by Hiroshi Tanahashi, for example:

Well, dictionaries are great, but there’s Japanese-language encyclopedias and thesauruses and google searches too! A trick I use a lot (as above) is looking up the English thing on wikipedia then switching the language to Japanese and reading that.
(P.S. not a huge deal and it’s obviously innocent in context but at least to my American eyes the three-letter abbreviation of Japanese reads as a WW2 era racial slur, so I’d recommend JP as an abbreviation or just writing out ‘Japanese’)


Using a good monolingual dictionary should surely be one’s main approach after you get some proficiency. (of course there is nothing wrong with checking the word’s translation to give you a hint when the Japanese definition feels completely ???)

That being said, other options you have are googling stuff as 「〇〇 △△ 違い」when you are confused about similar Japanese words:

Specially regarding keigo or technical terms, googling 「〇〇 使い方」 can also be very useful.

As a last resource, you can check the word’s usage on online corpus such as BCCWJ. It can be pretty clarifying, sometimes.

Depending on the specific word, wikipedia can also be very useful.

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I don’t think there is any gesture like that. If they have one it would be from a western pop culture and rarely use among friends. Since expressive body langauge is not really a thing in east Asian culture.

I might be wrong though. Since I’m not Japanese lol. It’s just a guess from a random Asian on the internet.

How many illegal aliens do you think there are in the U.S. at the moment?

I’m unable to understand what prompted the “Aliens” bit in this sentence. Help me please :sob:

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It’s a term for someone who is not a citizen of the country they are in.

Alien (law) - Wikipedia


Ahhh!! :man_facepalming:
I thought of that but I wanted to believe that Wanikani was joking around Area51 :stuck_out_tongue:

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This remind me of a joke on a Youtube video.

Little girl : Look mom… aliens
Mom : Don’t point at them sweet heart it’s rude. (She thought her daugther is talking about Mexicans)
Little girl : but momm they are aliens
Literally aliens overthere :alien: :alien: :rofl:


Once I’m done with Tobira what is the next text book I should get? Shin Kanzen Master N2?

I’m still far from getting there but it would be nice to know what my next goal would be.

強請(ねだ)る = to plead, to beg

Is this word in the same category as 大人(おとな) in regards of kanji use? Both of the kanji in that word doesn’t seem to usually have those readings.


They’re both jukujikun, if that’s what you mean, yes.


oh, so that’s what they’re called. Thanks for the reply!

Hehe, it’s almost like reverse ateji.


My recommendation after Tobira would be one of these two:

I think the second one is a little easier. However, just be aware that there really are a lot of technical words in there, and everything is in Japanese aside from the translations in the vocab list. To give you an idea… in the first sentence of chapter 1, there are at least three kanji compounds I’ll need to look up, and I think every single sentence after that is the same. (I took a quick glance a few months ago, and I’m currently waiting to get back to my physical copy so I can get started.)

You can of course try working with newspapers first, which are honestly probably a little easier because they’re not as saturated with technical terms (provided you pick a domain you’re familiar with, that is), but if we flip that logic around, well, that means that studying with that textbook will get you to improve much faster.

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Not entirely sure if it fits here or in the grammar thread but I guess here fits better

Is the 〜ている conjugation in any way related to 居る? I’ve gotten into humble and honorific speech with Bunpro and noticed that in both 〜ている conjugations and when using it as a verb, いる can be replaced with いらっしゃる, which suggests to me that rather than just being a conjugation, 〜ている might actually (originally) be something like 〜て with いる tacked on as an auxiliary verb, maybe. Is that actually the case?

And if yes, does the same hold true for 〜てある (to indicate a continuous state) and 有る?

And if yes (this is a lot of hypotheticals for something that may well be a nonsense conclusion) could that be replaced with ございます (ある and ございます seem analogous to me the same way いる and いらっしゃる seem to be) to make something like 開いてございます? Bunpro doesn’t list it as a grammar point, but I’m not under the illusion that Bunpro lists absolutely everything that ever has been a part of the Japanese language :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Yes, the いる in ている is just いる, the verb of existence for animate things. I didn’t think this was especially secret or anything.

In Japanese linguistics, even て is not a part of the word in question, it’s a particle. It’s [verb stem] + the particle て + いる.

てある is て + ある but has a meaning nuance beyond just て + ある and so I don’t think you can slot something else into it like that.


It probably isn’t, it’s just never been explained as such in the sources I’ve used for learning.

Is this specific to the continuous/perfect form or is this true for every every conjugation using the て-form? Or even for every conjugation, full stop, maybe? I’ve never really taken a dive into Japanese linguistics, so I’m probably missing a good bit of the fundamentals in that regard.

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It’s true of the any て-form you see. The reason we can’t see the stem at times is because of a phenomenon called 音便=‘euphonic change’, which means that it changed because it was easier to pronounce. In other words, for example, stuff like 聞いて used to be 聞きて, and 笑って used to be 笑ひて. It’s also true for all the た-forms too, which underwent exactly the same sort of transformation. However, given that a lot of other conjugations exist that don’t use the masu-stem, but instead use other stems, I wouldn’t say that ‘all’ conjugations use this. Just for your reference, the six stems in Modern Japanese are
未然形 (irrealis form, used for negation)
連用形 (declinable-joining form, which is the masu stem and appears in compound verbs)
終止形 (sentence-final form, identical to the next form in most Modern Japanese words)
連体形 (noun-joining form, used in relative clauses)
仮定形 (hypothetical form, used with ば)
命令形 (imperative form, used for orders)

The godan stem-ending vowels for these are A, I, U, U, E, E. (For the Classical Japanese forms, replace 仮定形 with the 已然形=realis.) Ichidan verbs, in contrast, only have one stem, so they don’t change much at all.

I personally just guessed that it had to be the 居る we all know because the て-form is something standalone that doesn’t need to be followed by いる. I broke things down so that it made sense: 〜ている=’to do 〜 and exist (in that state)'. Therefore it’s definitely the continuous tense, whether in the progressive sense or in the ‘current state’ sense. I felt that the existence of 〜てある confirmed it, and so I wasn’t too surprised when I saw いる transforming with keigo. If you’re seen or heard おる replacing いる in this structure, in anime, for example, you’ll realise it’s probably the existence verb. (Relevant VTuber joke:「ポルカおるか?」)


That’s interesting, I’ve never caught it as such (I may have heard it, but if I did, it didn’t register, at least). I was aware of おる as a verb but since I never connected the dots between いる and the progressive I never really considered that a possibility, but it’s helpful to know that this is something that’s done sometimes.

Is there any nuance associated with that substitution? Or is it just a stylistic choice?