This question was posted here: Why does Himura Kenshin say ~ござる (~gozaru) at end of every sentence? The author notes that: "I know this question probably belongs more on Japanese.SE, but we need to decide if this type of question is on-topic"

I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. On the one hand, there are cases (perhaps not this one) where there is some subtlety in the statement that is related to the plot. In that case, Japanese.SE probably wouldn't notice this. On the other hand, just for general questions about Japanese, answers would be faster and more complete there simply because of more people who know Japanese.

  • You should put your proposal part as an actual answer so people can vote on whether or not they agree with it. :)
    – atlantiza
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 4:42
  • @atlantiza Okay, I did that.
    – Logan M
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 4:47

6 Answers 6


In a case such as this, where the use of a certain language quirk is a central part of a character's personality and/or their backstory, it should be on-topic here.

Look at Duo from Gundam Wing. He talks extremely informally (and in the english dub, has a californian surfer accent). I think a question regarding 'why does Duo talk the way he does' might be on-topic here, because it says something about his character.


What I propose is this: questions about Japanese itself (e.g. "Translate this") should be considered off-topic, but questions which are in some way connected to the plot (e.g. "What is character X implying by saying ") are fine so long as they can't be answered by merely a translation but also require some understanding of the plot. The above would be a borderline case, but I'd allow it because it's not asking what Kenshin means by ござる, but is asking why he says that. Assuming the author knows that ござる is essentially a more polite form, it would be a better question if the body had somewhere something to the effect of "I know that ござる is used to end sentences in a more polite manner, but is that also why Kenshin uses it at the end of his sentences?" which I would then say is a perfectly fine question.


Language use seems to fit better under Japanese.SE, so I'm inclined to say that they're off-topic. Questions about word puzzles that have some important element to the plot itself, less so.


I would say that questions that are pure definition (ex. asking what the honorific "senpai" means) shouldn't be allowed because they fit better under Japanese.SE, but questions that are purely related to anime or to that anime specifically should be allowed. For example, "What does Kaworu mean in the 24th episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion with his ambiguous phrasing?" should be allowed.

This way, relevant information that can't necessarily be found by just going to something like Google Translate can be asked.

  • 2
    Just want to point out that pure definition questions are not allowed on JLU since, well, 1) you can look them up extremely easily 2) we don't really want a question for every single Japanese word. If there is something particularly tricky/confusing about a word then it's usually OK though.
    – atlantiza
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 4:45
  • Thanks. I haven't looked at JLU, but I was thinking of it as more like a "what people would you refer to people with senpai" when I wrote that, which, now that I looked at it, is not at all what I wrote.
    – kuwaly
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 21:45

While they are off-topic, they shouldn't be "closed as off-topic" but migrated to the relevant site. If that migration path is not available yet, it should be added.


I was pointed to this thread via a comment to my question What was text in final frame of Magi? . I agree that there are questions about the Japanese language which would add nothing to discussions of anime and/or manga. In the linked question, though, it concerns text overlayed into the image meant to be read by the audience, but was not translated. (I.e. it wasn't one of a dozen random shop signs the characters happen to walk by.) How can a question about it possibly be off topic?

If the text had been a separate layer, and could have been copied as text and pasted into Google Translate, perhaps I could understand why people might think I am too lazy to "do my own research". (Well, assuming Google Translate had half a clue in translating Japanese to English, anyway.) Even if there were a tool that could use OCR (optical character recognition) to pull Japanese text out of an image and translate it, the OCR would simply add another layer of potential error.

I guess the main thing I don't understand is why some are so quick to close. The question had been asked and answered before the first close vote was cast. The close-voters spend extra time on something they think should go away, and it will quickly fade away in any case. I spend extra time explaining myself on something which is transparently obvious. You spend extra time reading this post, thinking "Damn, another SE user b*tching. Why don't these guys just go away if they don't like it here?" 😉

  • I didn't VTC, but I was sympathetic to that: if I saw something similar (i.e. using an alphabet/syllabary, being written very clearly, and being a very short line of text) I would have tried Google Translate or the such first, using their handwriting input / keyboards as needed. I don't have any overly defined thoughts on the general case though.
    – Maroon
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 23:58
  • I'm neutral to that question as well, but the main issue is one of whether or not we allow questions asking for blanket text translations like that. I'm not going to say anything about your particular skill level with Japanese; it's probably almost on par with mine (minimal at best), but this is more along the lines of one needing to do a bit more legwork to solve this issue instead. There are resources available online which talk at length about the Japanese character set (hiragana and katakana), and since that entire text body is in hiragana, its meaning wouldn't be too tough to derive.
    – Makoto
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:53
  • 1
    Also, I'd like it if you stuck around. Having an issue with the site means you're using it, and you even voiced it here on our Meta. Thanks!
    – Makoto
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 17:54
  • @Makoto Heh. Don't worry. I've been with SO and various SEs for years and have no plans to move on. I try to maintain balance and a sense of humor about things. Just because I might disagree with something won't send me to Rage Quit City. I will usually attempt to explain my case, and if people don't agree so be it.
    – RichF
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 19:34

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