おそらく

kachibi

Senior Member
Chinese
I know おそらく is an adverb meaning "perhaps". I also know its kanji expression is 恐らく。

Does it mean this word applies to negative situations only? For example:
Perhaps I will lose.
Maybe she is ill.


How about neutral or positive situations?
Perhaps you will win.
He may join our gatheing.
 
  • Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Yes, you can use おそらく for positive possibilities. If you are a friend of Novak Djokovic, you can still say:
    おそらくジョコヴィッチが勝つだろう。

    The "fear" element in the etymology of the word seldom constrains the word's usage. If anything, the fear is to be felt not in the possibility but in the possibility's failure to materialise. As a rigorist dictionary notes (新明解国語辞典 q.v.):
    そうならないかもしれないという、幾分かの疑念・心配・ためらいの気持を抱きながらも、あることの実現を推測することを表わす。
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    I know おそらく is an adverb meaning "perhaps".

    おそらく has a range of meaning from "possibly" to "probably," but I hear it used more often in the latter meaning. That is, when the speaker thinks it likely that something will occur.

    If we say "Perhaps he will come," we are indicating that we don't know at all whether he will come. 50% probability either way. But if we say 彼はおそらく来る, we are indicating that he is likely to come.
     

    SoLaTiDoberman

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I googled the etymology of the word and found an interesting website:

    そもそも「おそらく」とはどういう意味?またその語源は?漢字で「恐らく」と記述するとの事。
    >>これを逆に、恐らく不合格だろう、恐らく失敗するだろう、とするのは厳密にいうと間違いになるのだそうです。
    According to the link:
    I know おそらく is an adverb meaning "perhaps". I also know its kanji expression is 恐らく。

    Does it mean this word applies to negative situations only?
    No. It's rather the opposite.
    The word can be applied to positive situations only, strictly speaking.
    For example:
    Perhaps I will lose. :cross:
    Maybe she is ill.:cross:


    How about neutral or positive situations?
    Perhaps you will win. :tick:
    He may join our gathering. :tick:
    According to the webpage above, the word actually comes from 恐れる.
    "I think something positive will happen in most of the cases, but I'm terrified/afraid if it won't be successful."

    I personally think, however, おそらく is usually a neutral word now, and we can use it for both positive things and negative things.
    The website's explanation/definition has become obsolete or too strict, and most Japanese people ignore such a thing.
    Furthermore, they write it in hiragana, おそらく.

    How about other native speakers?
     
    Last edited:

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    To a native speaker from another native speaker with more zeal to be candid and less fear to be frank;

    I find the website useless, or at least such a thing that needs great deal more care than you took in referring to it. While it mouths second-hand information thus:
    厳密にいうと間違いになるのだそうです。

    the website fails to cite the source that it is supposed to be reporting (そうです). You must stir your tea by swishing the spoon clockwise, not counter-clockwise. Says who?

    Furthermore, they write it in hiragana, おそらく.

    As I mentioned above, the etymology of the adverb is clear. It is a cognate to 恐れる, and 恐れ. Whether its script representation uses kana or not is besides the point. I find an observation related to the etymology in デジタル大辞泉 (s.v. 多分):
    ◇「おそらく」は、その原義から、悪いほうの可能性が高いと推量する気持ちが残り、「おそらく後悔するだろう」のような用法が中心となる。
    This may be the hidden source of the website, but please oh please note that this cannot be the basis for a high-handed injunction, which was 厳密にいうと間違い.
     
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