Grammar Info
N3 Lesson 2: 13/23

called・named, known as, as much as

Noun (A) + いう + Noun (B)
Register Standard
使用域 一般
という is a combination of the 格助詞(かくじょし) (case marking particle) と, and the う - Verb 言(い)う. It is a set expression that primarily uses only hiragana. という connects two nouns, and means ‘the (B) that is called (A)’, or ‘the (B) known as (A)’.
  • ローラというモデルさん知(し)っていますか?
    Do you know the model called Rola?
  • 本山(もとやま)という駅(えき)降(お)りてください
    Please get off at a station named Motoyama.
  • タナカタロウという少年(しょうねん)見(み)つけたらここにお電話(でんわ)ください。
    If you find a child named Tanaka Tarou, please call us.
Fun Fact
という (and the verb 言(い)う itself) is often quite misunderstood, as the closest translation in English is ‘to say’. In Japanese, 言(い)う actually refers to the information about something that cannot be discovered by simply ‘looking at’ it. For example, if you look at a man, you cannot know that his name is Bob, or that he works in an office, but you can know whether he is ‘short’, ‘tall’, etc. Due to this, という should only be used to express information that requires intimate knowledge, and not simple observations.
  • ここにボブという名前(なまえ)男(おとこ)人(ひと)来(き)ませんでしたか。 (Natural)
    Did a man called Bob come here?
  • ここに小(ちい)さいという男(おとこ)人(ひと)来(き)ませんでしたか。 (Unnatural)
    Did a man known as small come here?
It is possible to see (A) という (B) in sentences where (A) is describing something that seems ‘obvious’. However, in these cases, the speaker is usually implying that something about (A) is not exactly as it seems, or that their opinion/knowledge differs.
  • あの人(ひと)は強(つよ)いというんだけど、ステロイド使(つか)っているんじゃない
    That person is known as strong, but don't you think he uses steroids? (He looks strong, but isn’t)
This particular nuance is not limited to nouns, and may be seen with almost any word type.
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Do you know the game called "Pokemon?"
Have you ever gone to a yakiniku restaurant named "Rin?"
We are now in the time of year called "Tsuyu" (rainy season).
Genki II 1st Edition
Page 163
みんなの日本語 II
Page 54 [CH 33]
Marugoto Elementary 2 (A2) Rikai
Page 25
Genki II 2nd Edition
Page 193
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 486
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 158