Japanese with Anime

And kanji with manga

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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Money Gesture

In Japan, there's a hand gesture for money that's very similar to the "OK" hand gesture in America: it's done by making a circle with the thumb and index finger.

Hachikuji Mayoi 八九寺真宵, making a money sign.
Character: Hachikuji Mayoi 八九寺真宵
Anime: Nisemonogatari 偽物語 (Episode 1)
  • haa? kono yo ni okane igai nani ka aru-n-desu ka?
    Hah? In this world, is there anything besides money?

This gesture is used not only to talk about hard cash, but also when talking about profits or other economic gains, about costs, things that are expensive, and so on. It just signifies money in general.

Warning: different cultures use the same gesture to signify different things. In Japan it's money, in America it's "OK," in some countries it's something obscene, and so on. Some culture also have different gestures for money, like rubbing the index and thumb together.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Performative Verbs

In grammar, "performative verbs," suikou-doushi 遂行動詞, are verbs that perform an action simply by being uttered. They're used in the simple present in English, and in the "nonpast form," hikakokei 非過去形, in Japanese.

English examples include: I say, I declare, I command, I promise, I allow, I permit, I forbid, and so on.

Japanese examples include: onegai shimasu お願いします, tanomu 頼む, meizuru 命ずる, yurusu 許す, kyoka suru 許可する, and so on.


In Japanese, the verb forms ~te-iru ~ている and ~te-aru ~てある are stativizers: they're composed of the te-form plus a hojo-doushi 補助動詞 "auxiliary verb" that's an stative verb, specifically the existence verbs iru いる and aru ある, and they're used to make eventive verbs into stative predicates so they can be reported in present tense in nonpast form, while also anchoring generic stative predicates to particular temporal episodes.

Basically, they work kind of like the progressive form "is ~ing" and the perfect form "has ~ed" in English. Observe:

  • Tarou wa hashiru
    Tarou will run. (future perfective event.)
    Tarou runs. (present habitual state.)
  • Tarou ga hashitte-iru
    Tarou is running [right now]. (progressive state, stage-level predicate.)
  • Tarou wa kyonen kara mai-nichi hashitte-iru
    Tarou has been running every day since last year. (iterative state, episodic individual-level predicate.)
  • setsumei ga hon ni kaite-aru
    The explanation is written in the book. (resultative state, stage-level predicate.)

It's probably not very useful in practice to know that ~te-iru and ~te-aru are stativizers. It's more useful to just learn their functions individually. But for the sake of reference I'll be writing this article to show how these two forms relate.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


In Japanese, the verbs naru なる and suru する form an ergative verb pair of eventivizers: they're eventive verbs used with the adverbial form of statives, such as adjectives, stative verbs, and habitual predicates, in order to make said stative to behave like an eventive.

Notably, Japanese statives in nonpast form lack a future tense, so either a futurate or an eventivizer will be necessary to express a state is true in the future.

  • musuko ga isha da
    [My] son is a doctor. (present tense.)
    *[My] son will be a doctor. (can't mean the future tense.)
  • musuko ga isha ni naru
    [My] son will be a doctor.
  • watashi ga musuko wo isha ni suru
    I will make [my] son be a doctor.

Note: naru and suru have other functions, but this article won't focus on them.

なる vs. する, the differences between naru and suru.
Friday, September 18, 2020


In grammar, a futurate is a present-tense sentence that expresses a future temporal reference. For example:

  • The Red Sox play the Yankees tomorrow. (futurate.)
  • The Red Sox will play the Yankees tomorrow. (synonymous futurate-tense sentence.)

This is rarely relevant in Japanese, but it occurs in sentences like this:

  • gakkou wa yasumi da
    The school is at rest. (literally.)
    There's no school. (present.)
    *There will be no school. (no future interpretation.)
  • ashita gakkou wa yasumi da
    Tomorrow, the school is at rest. (a futurate.)
    There will be no school tomorrow.
Future temporal reference plus present tense equals futurate. Example: ashita Tarou ga koko ni iru 明日太郎がここにいる, Tomorrow, Tarou is here. Where ashita/tomorrow is a future temporal reference, and iru/is is a present tense word.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Stative Verbs

In semantic grammar, "stative verbs," in Japanese: joutai-doushi 状態動詞, are verbs that express states, making them similar to adjectives. They contrast with eventive verbs, which express events.

There are multiple definitions for stative verb in Japanese. See lexical aspects for details.

In Japanese, stative verbs used in nonpast form express a state in the present tense only, which is exactly how adjectives is nonpast form work. Observe the difference:

  • Tarou wa manga wo yomu
    Tarou reads manga. (present habitual.)
    Tarou will read manga. (future perfective.)
  • sora wa aoi
    The sky is blue. (present state.)
    *The sky will be blue. (can't express futurity.)
  • minna wa sou omou
    Everybody thinks so. (present state.)
    *Everybody will think so. (can't express futurity.

Above, the eventive yomu has both present and future tense, the i-adjective aoi only has present tense, and the stative verb omou only has present tense as well.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Eventive Verbs

Among verb types, eventive verbs are verbs that express events, which occur at some point in time. They contrast with stative verbs, which express states that are true during spans of time.

In Japanese, an eventive verb in nonpast form expresses that a futurity or a habitual. Tense-wise, future and present, respectively. A futurity is a future event. A habitual is a recurring event, often habit-like, though it can also mean whether an event is possible to occur at all.

  • Tarou wa manga wo yomu
    Tarou will read manga. (futurity.)
    Tarou reads manga. (habitual.)
    • Habitual potential entailment: if Tarou reads manga, then Tarou can read manga, because if he couldn't read manga, he wouldn't read manga.
Monday, August 31, 2020


In grammar, tense can mean two things(Sarkar, 1998:92–93):

  1. A temporal reference found in a predicate—past, present, future.
  2. The morphology of a word required to express a temporal reference—the conjugation of a verb to past, present, and future tenses.

If we go by the second definition, neither English nor Japanese have a future tense, since there's no verb form that exclusively expresses a future temporal reference.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Lexical Aspect

In grammar, actionality, or aktionsart, refers to a temporal property of a predicate. The term lexical aspect is used for the actionality of words (lexemes). Words that have different lexical aspects yield different meanings when used with the same syntax. For example:

  • "Tarou is running" means that "Tarou already ran" for a while, even if just for one second.
  • "Tarou is dying" doesn't mean that "Tarou already died" for a while, not even for one second.
  • Tarou wa hashitte-iru
    Tarou is running. (translates to progressive, "is ~ing.")
  • Tarou wa shinde-iru
    Tarou has died. (translates to perfect, "has ~ed.")

Above, we see that the verbs "to run," hashiru 走る, and "to die," shinu 死ぬ, have different temporal meanings when conjugated to the same forms, the progressive form in English, and the ~te-iru ~ている form in Japanese.

This happens because these words have different lexical aspects.

Note: "lexical aspect," goi-teki asupekuto 語彙的アスペクト, shouldn't be confused with "grammatical aspect," bunpou-teki asupekuto 文法的アスペクト. The progressive, perfect, perfective, imperfective, and so on are grammatical aspects, not lexical aspects.

Monday, June 29, 2020

kuro-mesen 黒目線

In Japanese, kuro-mesen 黒目線, "black eye-line," or just mesen 目線, "eye line," also known as me-kakushi-sen 目隠し線, "eye-hiding line," are black censor bars covering someone's eyes used to make them anonymous in order to protect their identity and privacy.

Note: mesen 目線 also has other meanings.

Example of black censor bars covering eyes, kuro-mesen 黒目線, "black eye-lines."
Anime: Shinryaku! Ika Musume 侵略!イカ娘 (Episode 3)

mesen 目線

In Japanese, mesen 目線, literally "eye line," can mean various things: one's "line of sight," their "gaze," the direction toward which they're looking, their viewpoint, how they view things, and black lines covering someone's eyes.

萩村は牛乳が好きなんだな 牛乳は成長を促すものだから良いことだ 会長は牛乳嫌いですか よくも目線下に向けてくれたな
Manga: Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共 (Chapter 8)
Sunday, June 14, 2020

Cobra Twist

In Japanese, a "cobra twist," katakanized kobura tsuisuto コブラツイスト, better known in English as "abdominal stretch," is a wrestling hold in which a wrestler, from behind, locks the opponent's arm, and bends them to a side. There are variations, but essentially:
  • Left arm weaves in front of the opponent's right arm and behind their neck.
  • Right hand grabs left hand, pressing the forearms against the opponent's neck.
  • Left leg wraps the opponent's left leg, or is placed in front of it.
  • The attacker squats, or pushes the receiver down by their neck, shoulders, bending their trunk, abdomen, to a side.

Mizuki Natsumi 水木なつみ puts Yamaguchi Daisuke 山口大介 in a cobra twist コブラツイスト.
Attacker: Mizuki Natsumi 水木なつみ
Receiver: Yamaguchi Daisuke 山口大介
Anime: Mama wa Shougaku Yon'nensei ママは小学4年生 (1992, Episode 1)
Friday, June 12, 2020

manji-gatame 卍固め

In Japanese, manji-gatame 卍固め, meaning "swastika hold," known in English as "octopus hold," is a wrestling hold resembling a "swastika," manji, due to the placement of the limbs of the wrestler, with all four knees and elbows bent. There are variants, but essentially:
  1. Left arm locks the opponent's right arm.
  2. Left leg wraps around the opponent's neck.
  3. Right leg wraps around the opponent's right leg.
  4. Right elbow held against the opponent's ribs.

Kinoshita Yuuko 木下優子 puts Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久, dressed as Kinoshita Hideyoshi 木下秀吉, in octopus hold, manji-gatame 卍固め.
Attacker: Kinoshita Yuuko 木下優子, dressed as Kinoshita Hideyoshi 木下秀吉
Receiver: Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久 as
Anime: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni'!, !バカとテストと召喚獣 にっ! (Season 2) (Episode 3, Stitch)

maji-manji マジ卍

In Japanese, maji-manji マジ卍 means the same thing as maji-yabai マジやばい. It's a JK slang used when something is intense, either intensely good, cool, awesome, epic, or intensely bad, horrible, awful, terrifying, dangerous.

The manji 卍 is also used as an internet slang when you're hyped up, excited for something.

See the article about the usage of the swastika in Japanese for details. This article is just for examples of usage.

四宮先輩・・・・・・ まじ卍っす・・・・・・ それ どういう意味ですか? 僕もわかりません・・・・・・
Manga: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~ かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Chapter 82, かぐや様は断らない)

manji 卍, "Swastika" in Japanese

In Japanese, a "swastika," manji , is sometimes seen in text as a word, in which case it has various meanings depending on context.

Most of the time, it's a slang used by teenagers which means basically nothing, synonymous with yabai やばい, which also means basically nothing.

四宮先輩・・・・・・ まじ卍っす・・・・・・ それ どういう意味ですか? 僕もわかりません・・・・・・
Manga: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~ かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Chapter 82, かぐや様は断らない)