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Nanimo

littlebear

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I am thinking of using the word 'Nanimo' as a title / name for something. I know that 'nanimo nai' means 'nothing', but can anyone tell me if a Japanese person would think that 'Nanimo' is a negative word, or a bad choice for a title / name ?

Does anyone have any opinions on the word 'Nanimo' and its connotations ?

Thanks,

Littlebear
 

tasuki

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Nanimo, by itself, doesn't mean anything, it is always followed by a negative or by "kamo" (nanimokamo, meaning "anything and everything"), so I doubt that Japanese nationals would feel offended if you used it... If anything, Japanese nationals would anticipate something negative to be said, but that depends on the character of the person reading your title...
 

NANGI

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Konnichiwa Littlebear-san!

Yes, "nanimo nai" means "nothing" and it is negative meaning. But if you ask a Japanese "What is the trouble with you?", the Japanese answer "No problem" to you. In this case, "No problem" is "Nanimo" in Japanese. I think "No problem" is affirmative meaning, isn't it?

NANGI
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by NANGI
Konnichiwa Littlebear-san!

Yes, "nanimo nai" means "nothing" and it is negative meaning. But if you ask a Japanese "What is the trouble with you?", the Japanese answer "No problem" to you. In this case, "No problem" is "Nanimo" in Japanese. I think "No problem" is affirmative meaning, isn't it?

NANGI
Yes, and in cases like these. Anytime you're talking about not doing something negative or something not being a problem, the implication is probably inherently positive.


Nanimo gozaimasen-ga doozo
何も御座いませんどうぞ

Nanimo okamai-dekimasen-de
何もお構いできませんで
 

littlebear

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Thanks for the replies. It is important to check these things!

I was going to use a name/title starting with the word 'neon' , but a Japanese friend told me that 'neon' is usually associated with cheap bars and strip clubs. I was also told by someone else that using the word 'neon' would be uncool, or 'naff'.

This surprised me - does this mean that the name "Neon Genesis Evangelion" sounds uncool in Japanese ?! I think different generations in Japan probably have different opinions on the word 'neon' and its connotations.
 

tasuki

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Littlebear
That's a misappropriation on the part of the Japanese, in this case, I think, as the title of the series in Japanese is 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン, which means "new century Evangelion", so the "neon" is probably "neo" for new, but someone screwed up along the way. Fairly common when Japanese use gairaigo. And you forget that anime goes by Japanese titles in Japan. I don't know many Japanese that actually know that it's called "Neon Genesis Evangelion" in English...

Yes, "nanimo nai" means "nothing" and it is negative meaning. But if you ask a Japanese "What is the trouble with you?", the Japanese answer "No problem" to you. In this case, "No problem" is "Nanimo" in Japanese. I think "No problem" is affirmative meaning, isn't it?

Nangi, if you translate "nanimo" as "no problem", from an English point of view, whilst the inferred meaning is affirmative, the expression is still a negative. I think the Japanese 何も…[ない], with or without "nai", is the same. You're simply implying that because there is no problem, something is OK (for example). To me, nanimo is explicitly negative and can be implicitly positive, but without context, it's very difficult to shake off the basic negativity of the expression.

Littlebear, can you give us an example of what you mean to do with your title?
 
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Elizabeth

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On the other hand, from a strictly phonetic perspective, nanimo carries an undeniably soft, self-contained almost lilting ring....(difficult to describe ;)) which may have been the reason for its initial lure. Besides being the name of an actual city in British Columbia, so don't give up hope yet, Littlebear.
 

tasuki

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Really? I don't get that at all. To me, "nanimo" is one of the blandest, most uninteresting and uninterested response anybody can give me to a question... A close second to "betsu ni".
 

Elizabeth

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Probably since I haven't heard it in context as much, just the sound of the word alone has a very unique resonance with me for some reason.
 

tasuki

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Mmm. Maybe. If somebody answers nanimo to a "doushitano?" or "douka shita no?", to me it just plain means, "yes, but I'm not interested to talk about it". Of course, that's just what I get from it...
 

Elizabeth

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Maybe Littlebear can confirm (or not) this impression -- but I suspect from the perspective of a non-Japanese speaker having this discussion for the first time, part of the uniqueness of 'nanimo' the word is in its sound. "Na" and "ni" flow together almost imperceptibly since both are articulated near the alveolar part of the vocal tract while "mo" (a soft but firm ending syllable) entails moving the tongue down only slightly. It may be bland or a nice, easy and good name for something. ;)
 

littlebear

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Elizabeth is right. I chose the word 'nanimo' because phonetically it sounds nice in English. I also like the sound of 'tokidoki' and 'tomodachi' too.

Word connotation can be very interesting. In English the word 'selfish' generally has a negative meaning, but I've been told that 'wagamama' is not considered to be particularly negative in Japanese.

In contrast, in one of my Japanese dictionaries, the Japanese options for the word 'passion' translate into 'zeal' 'violent emotion' and 'rage', but there is no word given for 'love' or 'desire'. I don't think many English speaking people use the word 'passion' to mean 'rage'. Even if we refer to someone 'talking passionately' about a subject, this isn't really a negative statement.

Of course word meaning is culturally bound, and linguists have written plenty of theses on this subject, but it is very interesting, isn't it.

Thanks Tasuki for pointing out that Neon Genesis Evangelion isn't called that in Japanese. It really hadn't occured to me that the name was not the same in Japanese. I think New Century Evangelion sounds better !

Littlebear
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by littlebear


In contrast, in one of my Japanese dictionaries, the Japanese options for the word 'passion' translate into 'zeal' 'violent emotion' and 'rage', but there is no word given for 'love' or 'desire'. I don't think many English speaking people use the word 'passion' to mean 'rage'. Even if we refer to someone 'talking passionately' about a subject, this isn't really a negative statement.
I really wouldn't consider 'passion' alone to be synonymous with rage or any kind of demonic madness -- outside of contexts such as the heat of passion or a fit of passion. And in Japanese there is 'hageshiikoi' for passionate love and 'netsuretsunakoi' for ardent love in addition to more words for lust or carnal desire (for sure) than we can enjoy in English. Japanese people, generally speaking, are more emotional than Westerners, it's just a matter of how those feelings get channeled and expressed.

As for 'wagamama,' my limited understanding is that it connotes more of a personality complex than 'rikoteki,' one of a host of supposedly "uniquely Japanese disorders," characterized by childish, negative, apathetic, and/or irresponsible behavior generally. If it doesn't have a negative connotation, it may be since so many people there seem to fit this description ;).
 
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mdchachi

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Yes, "nanimo nai" means "nothing" and it is negative meaning. But if you ask a Japanese "What is the trouble with you?", the Japanese answer "No problem" to you. In this case, "No problem" is "Nanimo" in Japanese. I think "No problem" is affirmative meaning, isn't it?

What Japanese phrase are you thinking of here? "mondai ga aru"? It must depend on what you are asking. If somebody asks you "What's the matter?" ("Doushita no?") it sounds strange to say "nanimo nai" -- "nandemo nai" is natural & correct.
I know this because I used to say nanimo in this context but was told many times that this was wrong.
 
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