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Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

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Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Shoj_Blade » Thu 02.07.2008 6:47 pm

(I apologize if there's already a thread of this; it sounds common, but I've searched and haven't found a single thread like this. Knowing my luck, there probably is one anyways...)

Today I've come up with a dilemma. I've run across words with the same meaning; (And of course this mainly referring to nouns, not particles or stuff like that.)

As for the word "Lunch", I've come up with a few results... are these interchangeable? Or are some used in different levels of politeness... or what?
昼ご飯
午餐
昼食

And the word "Geometry" was something I was trying to find today. (My dictionary didn't have it. >.>) I found results elsewhere, though:

幾何
幾何学

I'm assuming the second result would be referring to "Geometry" as a school class, and the first one would just be referring to the overall topic of "Geometry".

Would someone be kind enough to clear this up for me? I know there are some words in English that have different versions, so to speak, but I can't pull up an example.

And when would you use the Katakana version of nouns like this? Both nouns in this post have a Katakana version too.

I'm so confused. I'm such a noob. ;_;
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 02.07.2008 7:02 pm

昼ごはん is the standard word for "lunch". I've never seen 午餐 in my life (although I guess I could have guessed the meaning by analogy with 晩餐, which I have seen), and 昼食 is a little more formal.

There's no way to know this without getting experience in the language. Dictionaries, especially ones that lack example sentences, are very poor for learning words because you have no idea how to use them or what register they have.

I know that you did not see 午餐 in a textbook. My advice is to use a textbook and stick to the words in there until you get more experience with the language, then you can start using dictionaries and native sources to accumulate more vocab.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Thu 02.07.2008 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Shoj_Blade » Thu 02.07.2008 9:18 pm

Thanks. My dictionary does have examples (Not for everyone, because it's easy to know how to use an I-adj. or Na-adj. after figuring out how they work. And some entries have two or more examples. Anyways...)

I've been sticking with Tae Kim's Grammar Guide for Grammar, and have been teaching myself Vocabulary (Along with the daily JLPT kanji, even if I'll never take the test it'd be wise to know just in case.). Is this not so good an idea?
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby hungryhotei » Thu 02.07.2008 10:05 pm

Shoj_Blade wrote:
(Not for everyone, because it's easy to know how to use an I-adj. or Na-adj. after figuring out how they work


Examples aren't really there to show you how to conjugate the words, but to show what contexts they go in and what words they collocate with. They can also help you know how common words are.

Much of the difference between 昼ごはん and 昼食 can be seen in that between the Japanese style words and Chinese style ones. You'll get a better grasp of this as you go on, but Chinese style words tend to generally be more formal, 'hard' sounding, masculine etc. Although there are probably almost as many exceptions as words.

I'm surprised that your dictionary had 昼餐 but not ランチ, which is probably quite an important alternative word for it, and often used in compounds like ランチタイム and お子様ランチ.

Shoj_Blade wrote:
I've been sticking with Tae Kim's Grammar Guide for Grammar, and have been teaching myself Vocabulary (Along with the daily JLPT kanji, even if I'll never take the test it'd be wise to know just in case.). Is this not so good an idea?


It's OK if you haven't made the decision yet whether you are going to invest the time and money in learning Japanese, but as soon as you have, getting a textbook should be a high priority.
Last edited by hungryhotei on Thu 02.07.2008 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby keatonatron » Fri 02.08.2008 4:44 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
... 昼食 is a little more formal.


The on-yomi (ちゅうしょく) is formal, but the kun-yomi (ひるめし) is quite casual ;)
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Harisenbon » Fri 02.08.2008 5:07 am

keatonatron wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:
... 昼食 is a little more formal.


The on-yomi (ちゅうしょく) is formal, but the kun-yomi (ひるめし) is quite casual ;)


you mean 昼飯?
飯 is ご飯, not ご食(which I don't believe is a word). ;)
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby keatonatron » Fri 02.08.2008 8:35 am

You're right!

I don't know what I was thinking :o

Well, I know WHAT I was thinking, but not WHY I was thinking it.

If it's any excuse, immediately after writing that post I went straight to bed and slept for 3 hours.... and it's only 9 PM now. I've been a little under the weather recently. :|
Last edited by keatonatron on Fri 02.08.2008 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Nibble » Fri 02.08.2008 9:39 am

午餐 is common in Chinese, but I've never seen it used in Japanese. As Yudan said, it's best to stick to words you've actually seen or heard in context before as much as possible.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 02.08.2008 10:09 am

wucan? We learned "wufan" for lunch but I recognize that second character from 餐廳.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Nibble » Fri 02.08.2008 12:57 pm

Yes, both are used. You can also say 早餐 and 晚餐.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 02.08.2008 3:07 pm

晩餐 is actually used in Japanese, mostly in 晩餐会, or 最後の晩餐 (The Last Supper). 午餐, though, is not.
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RE: Two words - different spelling/kanji, same meaning?

Postby arbalest71 » Sun 02.10.2008 12:41 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Dictionaries, especially ones that lack example sentences, are very poor for learning words because you have no idea how to use them or what register they have.


This is one of the reasons I really like the Green Goddess. It has really great examples- I can get lost in my electronic version for days, following entries. It's outrageously priced, but I think Kenkyuusha offers the dictionary over the web for a pretty reasonable fee. This is probably the future of dictionaries anyway. New words are coined every day. Who wants to wait for a new edition? 

Anyway, it might be worth looking into subscribing to their web service. Over the course of a decade you will pay as much as you would have for the print edition, but... the web edition will probably do more for you. And you'll save a tree (if you've ever seen the print edition... well, that is not just a metaphor.. we're talking about an actual tree ;) ).
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