Translation:How much is that?
Ko~ is near you, So~ is near the speaker, and A~ is far from both.
A good way to tell when to use ~re or ~no, if you can add "thing" or "one" then you can use ~re. Example:
kore wa enpitsu desu.
This (thing/one) is a pencil.
sore wa nan desu ka?
What is that (thing/one)?
But if you can't add "thing" or "one" then it would be ~no. Example:
kono neko wa kuroi desu.
This cat is black.
sono isu wa ikura desu ka?
How much for that chair?
Note: Japanese do have word for "thing"「物」(mono), so saying "this thing" can also be translated as「この物」(kono mono).
I suspect this is also to avoid confusion when we start using the demonstrative pronouns for locations (ここ、そこ、あそこ、どこ, roughly translated to "this/that place", or "over here/there") and the demonstrative pronouns for directions (こちら、そちら、あちら、どちら, roughly translated to "this/that way").
Could this also mean "Is that ikura?" as in, the salmon roe that you often see in sushi restaurants?
I do remember learning that ikura is actually written in katakana, as the word comes from the Russian word икра (ikra), so in written form perhaps it would be easier to tell. But just wanted to know if the sentence can be interpreted as such when listening.
That's a fantastic point! XD (I didn't know it came from Russian, that's really interesting)
You're exactly right; it is a possible interpretation. I'd wager that there is a different stress accent for いくら ("how much") and イクラ ("salmon roe"), but I'm not versed enough to comment on it.
Well, you could also be asking if "that (over there)" is "salted salmon roe" :P
But seriously, as a question word, I can't think of any examples where いくら isn't referring to the cost of something, unless it's いくらでも ("no matter how much") or いくらか ("however much"). If you want to ask how many things there are, usually you would use 何+the appropriate counter.
So in some contexts, I have seen questions be written without the question mark (instead with the special dot 。 that ends Japanese declarative sentences) when they end with the particle 「か」. Would that be (in terms of French liaison terminology) mandatory, impossible, or optional?
Formal Japanese actually generally doesn't use question marks at all because of the fact that, as you pointed out, there's a question marker か which renders it unnecessary. They just end sentences with the 。regardless of whether it's a question or not.
The question mark (and the exclaimation mark for that matter) are both western imports that get used in casual, informal writing like memos or letters. You also see it a lot in manga, etc.
Sono and ano both belong to the same set of demonstratives. They are adjectives, and must come attached to a noun, e.g. その机 (that desk). Ditto for kono and dono.
Are is a pronoun, and replaces the noun/noun phrase. For that reason, are--as well as the others in the set, kore, sore, and dore-- can be topics and subjects on their own. You can say あれは; you cannot do the same with あの. The latter always needs to be あの[insert noun here]は.
These are just two out of several series of ko-so-a-do demonstratives. The relationship indicated by that first syllable goes as follows:
Ko~: close to the speaker.
So~: away from speaker and close to listener.
A~: away from both speaker and listener.
Do~: interrogative/question word. E.g. どの机="which desk"
We don't differentiate between so~ and a~ in English, which is why they both just get translated as "that".
これ = this
ぞれ = that
あれ = that (over there)
Both words translate to "that", but あれ is used for more distant things.
これ is used for things that are close by. Specifically, something that is closer to the speaker, than it is to the listener. それ is used for objects that are pretty close to the listener, but further away from the speaker. あれ is used when the object is pretty far from both parties.
A: "Is this your pencil?" (これ)
B: "No, that is not my pencil?" (それ)
A: "What about that pencil over there?" (あれ)
B: "Oh! Yes, that one over there is mine!" (あれ)
It's different. あれ, and the slightly feminine あら, are onomatopoeic words used to indicate surprise, and are unrelated to the pronoun あれ, despite having identical pronunciation.
Being onomatopoeic, あれ and あら are more conducive to manipulation/personalization, with forms like あれれ, あれまあ, and あらら.