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晩 versus 夜

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晩 versus 夜

Postby eb2114 » Wed 08.17.2005 5:53 am

What's the difference between 晩 and 夜? As in, are there specific guidelines for when it's appropriate to use 晩 and when it's appropriate to use 夜, or are the two more or less interchangeable?
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby battousai » Wed 08.17.2005 8:50 am

When you're learning a new language you're pretty much increasing your vocabulary one word at a time and you notice quite clearly when you add another word that you already have. You wonder, if this means the same as the other word, what is the point and when should I use it. If anything though, it should put in perspective how many alternatives languages have. To speak, talk, say, utter, voice, express all mean the same thing..do we ever really think about which one fits? In cases like this, the same can be said about Japanese.

To take your example, you have 夜 and 晩 that both mean [night], sounds like a problem. But in English, you have the words [evening] and [night]. Are those two not the exact same word? You can say Good night! or How was your evening? In Japanese you can say 今晩は! or この 夜 何 を したんだ? If you really want to get technical, there are even more words to make things fun. 夕方 also means night/evening. The difference is pretty much the same nuance as if you said night or evening in English.

I understand your question though. Are there specific places and rules to interchanging the word for night? The answer, like in English, is there are some phrases you would use a certain word. You would not say 今夜は over 今晩は, but examples like this are few and far between.

To sum it up, I'll use an example an old teacher of mine used as an example on a fellow classmate of mine. After asking a similar question in regards to 運命 and 定め, she replied to him "I'll explain the difference between those two, if you can explain the difference between Autumn and Fall."
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby Kates » Wed 08.17.2005 9:44 am

But 'evening' and 'night' are not the same thing. I would equate 'ban' more with 'evening' and 'yoru' with 'night'. I do believe that 'ban' comes before 'yoru' in the course of a day. (asa - hiru - ban - yoru)

battousai makes a good point though: You can't expect words in a foreign language to have an exact equal in your native language. There are ideas in both Japanese and English that have no equal. ("Itadakimasu" for example... or how about trying to translate "hot rod" into a Japanese word?) You have to try to understand some new Japanese words in the sense that the Japanese understand them.
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby battousai » Wed 08.17.2005 9:50 am

I concur that night and evening are not the same thing, and neither are ban and yoru - if anything that is the point that got lost in my post. It is hard to put these concepts into words. For instance, we know in our head that evening and night are not the same thing, but do we ever wonder which to use in a certain situation? We've basically melded both of their meanings into one to mean the same thing and therefore are interchangeable. Your itadaku example is a great one because Japanese is filled with these idiomatic phrases that have no English equal. Proof? 言う、おっしゃる、垂キ. But in the end, each one means "to say".

If anything, regard my previous post towards the subject of common synonyms.
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby Schattenjedi » Wed 08.17.2005 10:47 am

Evening and night are NOT interchangable in most situations I can think of. For example, at 3 o'clock you could say "oh, what a lovely night". Evening could not be used in that situation.
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby Kates » Wed 08.17.2005 10:55 am

battousai: So... you're saying your first post is saying that 'evening' and 'night' have different meanings, but that we've "melded both of their meanings into one to mean the same thing"... so, they mean the same thing? O_o? And they are interchangeable?

I don't agree, sorry. We just don't say "2am in the evening"... right? And the reason we don't "wonder which to use in a certain situation" is because we have a subconscious understanding of their meanings and speak based on that (at least, that is my belief).
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby battousai » Wed 08.17.2005 2:03 pm

I have to say I'm confused from both of the previous last posts, and I think I have to attribute it to colloquialism. I'm assuming you meant that at 3AM you would not say "Nice evening" but rather "Nice night". But to be honest in my experience, I've heard these interchanged before and both sound right and useable to me. That's why I didn't even understand the last 2 posts until rereading them many a time. After consulting the dictionary, evening is defined as the time from afternoon to nightfall and night is defined as the time before sunset and dawn. Indeed, at times like 9PM people do say good night or good evening or nice night/evening. By definition though, evening should be stopped being used at least by 10PM as it is almost certainly dark by then anywhere. However, I know for a fact people will say how is your evening, or good evening even past that time. Now at a certain time such as the early morning, I agree that something clicks and people just know to either refer to the time as morning or something else.
All I can say is at least where I'm from, the east coast, night and evening are interchangeable like that.

Still, I think the original poster's questions was in reference to this -
If you look up ban in a dictionary it will give you the definition night/evening
If you look up yoru in a dictionary it will give you the definition night/evening
And in the end, I still think the answer is simply that they are synonyms.

The discussion we've been having above is more about the technical definition, but I personally believe usage wise we equate them.
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby alarma » Wed 08.17.2005 2:03 pm

Hey everyone,

Before this post gets too heated, I'd like to say a couple of things. Firstly, there are some things that are idiomatic, and as you have both said, that's not a bad thing. Problem with idiomatic things is that you have to memorize them and their context when you don't have a deep instinctive feel for the language.

Just like in English we know when to use 'evening' or 'night', with intensive studying of japanese and listening to several examples, you will get it right. But like battousai implied, they are mostly interchangeable, and everyone will understand what you are saying if you just use whichever one you think is appropriate.

Even better, wait for a japanese person to correct you, and ask them why it is said differently! :) Or ask and English speaking person the difference between "who" and "whom"!!:D

Also, the difference between Autumn and Fall is that Fall is pretty much exclusively an American thing. British people and British ex-colonies don't use the word "Fall". :) (just my 2cents)
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby eb2114 » Wed 08.17.2005 6:02 pm

Wow, lots of interesting responses.

Still, I think the original poster's questions was in reference to this -
If you look up ban in a dictionary it will give you the definition night/evening
If you look up yoru in a dictionary it will give you the definition night/evening
And in the end, I still think the answer is simply that they are synonyms.


Yep, that was pretty much all I was asking in the idle hope that someone would be able to tell me if one was more commonly used in the sense of 'evening' and the other in the sense of 'night', mostly because of the subtle differences between 'evening' and 'night'.

Even better, wait for a japanese person to correct you, and ask them why it is said differently! Or ask and English speaking person the difference between "who" and "whom"!!


...Now I'm confused. Does that mean that there is a specific grammatical rule to determine when 晩 should be used and when 夜 should be used? Because the primary difference between "who" and "whom" is whether or not the relative pronoun (well, actually, its antecedent) acts as the subject (who) or the object (whom) of the verb in a relative clause; proper usage is informed by concrete grammatical structure. To illustrate: "I read an article about a man who left his inheritance to his cats" vs "That is a man whom I respect".

(Yeah, I'm a big grammar geek)

As the Autumn vs. Fall thing...Well, if you live in Hawaii (like I do), your response is "What is this thing you call Autumn? Seasons? What're those?" :)
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby Kates » Wed 08.17.2005 7:05 pm

I think basically, 'ban' is best translated as 'evening' and 'yoru' is 'night'. Yes, I do agree that the two times can overlap one another, and that they are similar (both in English and in Japanese) but I think it's a safe bet to treat 'ban' as 'evening' and 'yoru' as 'night'... that's the way I learned it, anyway.
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RE: 晩 versus 夜

Postby Gakusha » Wed 08.17.2005 7:27 pm

Well, I suppose I can straighten this whole evening/night thing out.

"Good Evening" is a synonym of "hello," and usually is used in a conversation that is beginning an event.

"Good Night" is a synonym of "goodbye," and usually is used in a conversation ending an event, when people are leaving.

I'm not exactly sure, but I believe that Japanese uses 晩 and 夜 in this same manner.
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