Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 03-22-2013, 02:23 AM
DKW DKW is offline
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,753
Difference between "shojo", "onnanoko", and "musume"

Three Japanese words that mean "girl", but with considerably different connotations. (I figure there's a reason there's never been a pop idol group called "Morning Shojo".)

AFAIK, the limit for shojo is just before the age of majority (16-ish), while onnanoko is...well, it derives from the word for "woman", but...feh. Anyone?
#2
Old 03-22-2013, 07:36 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 8,791
One thing that pops out at me is that in English, the word "girl" has a primary meaning of an underage female, but it can mean any female in certain contexts. For example, you could say that, "My little brother and I played bridge with grandma and Aunt Bessie. The girls won." You aren't saying that your grandma is literally under 18 or some other specific age of maturity. You can do the same thing with the word "boy".

In much formal writing in the US, a "girl" means any female under 18 and any female who is 18 is automatically a woman. For example, "Two 17 year old girls and an 18 year old woman, all sisters, were arrested yesterday for spraypainting 'Billy Johnson sucks' on the only bridge out of town." The fact that they are social peers doesn't change this in formal writing.

Does this concept apply to any of the Japanese words?

Last edited by robert_columbia; 03-22-2013 at 07:37 AM.
#3
Old 03-22-2013, 07:38 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,444
shojo is a young girl.
onna no ko is simply a girl.
musume is a daughter.
#4
Old 03-22-2013, 10:42 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Alabama
Posts: 14,503
onnanoko has a very wide range of usage, and can refer to babies or young women. It's pretty standard for referring to babies and young girls. It sounds a bit informal when used to refer to a teenage girl. It sounds overly familiar when referring to college age women (e.g. mostly used in the context of going out with a girl), and can be considered derogatory when used for women older than that.

shojo is more specific, usually refers to girls in her puberty through teenage years. (Wikipedia says age 7-18.) For this age group, it's more formal term than onna no ko - it's commonly used in writing (including newspaper articles), but not very common in everyday speech, except as parts of established phrases (e.g. shoujo manga).

musume can mean "daughter", of any age. But it's also used as an informal/familair term to mean "young woman."

(These are just my gut feeling, aided by this dictionary.)
#5
Old 03-22-2013, 10:45 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Alabama
Posts: 14,503
p.s. I think in formal writing, a girl 6 yrs or younger is joji, 7 through 18 is shoujo, and older would be josei.

Last edited by scr4; 03-22-2013 at 10:46 AM.
#6
Old 03-22-2013, 11:08 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 12,703
Quote:
Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Three Japanese words that mean "girl", but with considerably different connotations. (I figure there's a reason there's never been a pop idol group called "Morning Shojo".)

AFAIK, the limit for shojo is just before the age of majority (16-ish), while onnanoko is...well, it derives from the word for "woman", but...feh. Anyone?
Ironically considering OP, I believe you are using the Yiddish expression "feh" incorrectly. It is used to indicate utter disgust and revulsion with a statement or situation, literally or metaphorically.

Unless that's what you wanted to say.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 03-22-2013 at 11:08 AM.
#7
Old 03-23-2013, 04:56 AM
DKW DKW is offline
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,753
Nice insights, thanks. Yeah, I figured there was nuance to it, as there is to pretty much everything else about the Japanese language (a practical necessity due in no small part to the lack of cuss words, but that's another issue).

Just another little question...why "mecha musume"? Y'know, the style of artwork with massive war machines portrayed as girls. I doubt anyone considered them daughters of anything.

Leo - Look, I have trouble remembering the difference between "shoot style" and "stiff work", I am not getting into a debate over this, a'ight?
#8
Old 03-23-2013, 09:48 AM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 12,703
Quote:
Originally Posted by DKW View Post
....
Leo - Look, I have trouble remembering the difference between "shoot style" and "stiff work", I am not getting into a debate over this, a'ight?
You're already ahead of me here, because I haven't a guess about what those two phrases mean.
#9
Old 03-27-2013, 04:35 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Alabama
Posts: 14,503
Quote:
Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Just another little question...why "mecha musume"? Y'know, the style of artwork with massive war machines portrayed as girls. I doubt anyone considered them daughters of anything.
As I think I said, "musume" can mean "girl" in a certain context without the connotation of "daughter".

"Onna no ko" is a phrase, not a single word; "mecha onna no ko" sounds really awkward.
"Mecha shojo" doesn't have the right ring to it, as "shojo" has more of a connotation of an innocent teenage girl. "Mecha onna" brings to mind an older woman.
#10
Old 03-28-2013, 09:58 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Collinwood, Collinsport
Posts: 3,533
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
p.s. I think in formal writing, a girl 6 yrs or younger is joji, 7 through 18 is shoujo, and older would be josei.
Josei and the Nekomimi's
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:10 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: radio shack parts baby models seattle scented baby powders two toned eyes farmer daughter jokes 20 dips hamc nomads okcupid is dead nude hookers painful fingertips frozen paintballs giving girls head half a beard example of common sense erection during physical female doctor get off the snide what does anesthesia feel like harold and maude jaguar model the entertainer lyrics scott joplin is it ok to feed dogs ham gum calories from chewing or swallowing will snow melt at 30 degrees if you taser someone touching you