The difference between counting terms

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Thunderstriker, Sep 15, 2013.

  1. Thunderstriker

    Thunderstriker New Member

    Fortaleza, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I was watching the first episode of 日本人の知らない日本語, and I saw these differences, but I couldn't understand very well. I can't post the link to the video, but it is easy to find on YouTube.

    This dialog takes place around 6:30~8:40.

    So, basically what it says is that one straw is an 一本 rather than 一個. A snake and a dog are 一匹 because they are alive, but an elephant and a horse are 一頭, because they are large. "Mobile suits" can be called 一機. Humans are not machines, so we say 一人. But a student raises and says humans are 一匹, and she has an evidence shown in a book. Tunas are 一匹 when they are swimming, but when caught, they become 一本. When sold at the market, they become 一丁. If the sold part is cut, each cut becomes 一塊 and when made into sushi, it becomes 一冊 and when someone eats it, it becomes 一切れ.

    Is that it? That is kinda confusing, but I am quite understanding this. :)

  2. Tonky Senior Member

    It is about the speaker's view point :) I hope you enjoy it!
  3. Thunderstriker

    Thunderstriker New Member

    Fortaleza, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    That made it easier to understand. Thank you! :D

    But do I really need to know this? As the show's name is something like "The Japanese that Japanese people do not know", it seems like too much information for regular Japanese. Do people just use 一本 for most of these?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  4. Tonky Senior Member

    No, you don't. Most of us do not know all the counting words either, especially those special ones(tech terms) used at certain scenes.
    There are quite a few you should learn if you want to be fluent, but you only need to know a few for "survival" study. Important ones are usually listed in your text book, and the rest is depending upon where you use Japanese or whom you talk to.

    No, we use more than just ~本 for counting. If you cannot be bothered to learn all the important ones listed in your textbook, you could do away with ~匹 for animals, ~人 for people, and ひとつ、ふたつ…for everything else, but it may sound awkward time to time.

    As for tuna counting, that is probably the most proper counting, but learning 一匹、一本、一切れ would be enough. We would understand them when we hear them, but many of us probably do not use them all. (Thus, the title, 日本人の知らない日本語.)
    「男一匹」 is an expression and you treat it as an exception, forget about using 匹 for people and always use it for (small) animals.

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