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Japanese words hard to translate - 07-13-2020, 02:34 PM

There are some Japanese words hard to translate. As these words might depend on the Japan specific human relations, those can not be translated but be explained.

"YOROSHIKU" or "OTSUKARE-SAMA" are often mentioned and I found a word from very new point of view for me.

It is "NONI".

In many cases, "NONI" is used to connect he sentences and translated as "even though". But n some cases, "NONI" is placed at the end of the sentence and expresses the feeling of regret.

For example, TARO visited JIRO near HANAKO and came back his home without visiting HANAKO. HANAKO heard it afterward and complained TARO as "You should just dropped in me":"ちょっと寄ってくれたらよかったのに。:CHOTTO YOTTE KURE-TARA YOKATTA NONI". I'm not sure if this is a good translation. Do you have these kind of situation?

I was impressed a youtube movie pointing out "NONI" as "hard t translate".



I will try to explain the "Japanese wors hard to tarnslate" one by one in this thread.


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07-18-2020, 02:27 PM

**** 宜しく:よろしく;YOROSHIKU ****

"YOROSHIKU" is often translated as "nice to meet you" or something.

As "YOROSHIKU" is used at the same timing as "nice to meet you", it is not so wrong. But "YOROSHIKU" does mean other thing.

”YOROSHIKU" means "I hope everything goes well with our job (together)".

Why "together" is in the brace? Because sometimes "YOROSHIKU" is used to leave a job to some other person.


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08-23-2020, 03:04 PM

**** お疲れさま:OTSUKARE-SAMA ****

Meaning "thank you for your hard work". Implying "I was tired and you were also tired. Let's share and respect our hard work together".


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01-31-2021, 02:49 AM

**** 有難迷惑:ありがた めいわく;ARIGATA MEIWAKU ****

I listed up the "Japanese words hard to translate" and sorted. Then this word was listed at the top as it started with "あ".

it means a situation where a favor was made but it is nuisance at the same time.

For example, one of your friends tells you "I will send you to the station. take y car.". But you have something to do on the way to the station : you want to walk.

In this case, western people will not hesitate to refuse friend's convite. Japanese can not.

Japanese can not refuse the convite if it is come from the favor. "ARIGATA-MEIWAKU" is used to describe these situation.


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01-31-2021, 04:43 AM

**** いただきます:ITADAKI-MASU ****

This is a word to use before meal or anytime you eat something. It is translated as "Let's eat" or something because there is not such word in English.

"ITADAKI-MASU" means "I will take it" when directly translated but it means "Saying thank you for the service and the lives lost for my meal".

Honestly speaking, I had been believing "ITADAKI-MASU" is the word for my mother who prepared my meal. I found it's Buddism back ground after high school age.


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01-31-2021, 05:06 AM

**** 御馳走様;ごちそうさま:GOCHISOU-SAMA ****

This is the word after meal.

"GOCHISOU" means "gorgeous meal" and "SAMA" would express the respect.
Then "GOCHISOU-SAMA" means "Thank you for gorgeous meal".

I had been believed that it was word for my mother. It is not so wrong.


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02-01-2021, 02:15 PM

**** おかげさまで:O-KAGE-SAMA-DE ****

This is used when someone tell you " congratulations!" for your some happy matters.

It is translated as "By XXX's help" meaning the happy matter is not caused by myself but by others (the listener, other people or BUDDAH). Is it called Humility in English?

Example: You have won the top place of the sales and the prize was given. Then your colleague say to you "congratulations!". Even though the sales was made by yourself, you (perhaps Japanese) will say "O-KAGE-SAMA-DE" suggesting the sales was not made by only yourself but by the co-working of the colleagues and perhaps by good luck or something.


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02-02-2021, 03:19 PM

**** お疲れ様:OTSUKARE-SAMA ****
"O-TSUKARE" is a polite form of "TSUKARE; tired".

This is greeting for your colleagues meaning "Are you tired ?I'm tired too".

This is a kind of behavior named "NEGIRA-U : to express thanks for the work".

"polite form of some concept" with "SAMA" are often appeared in Japanese like as "OSEWA-SAMA", "OAINIKU-SAMA"or "GOCHISOU-SAMA". Does someone study about these kind of "the humanization of the concept"?


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02-03-2021, 03:31 PM

Once I asked a Japanese with enough experiences in English "How do you say 'OTSUKARE-SAMA in English?".

He replied with half laughing "アメリカ人はそんな傷口を舐めあうような会話は しないよ:AMERIKA-JIN WA SON'NA KIZUGUTI WO NAME-AU YOU-NA KAIWA WA SHINAI YO; (I can not translate to English)".


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02-27-2021, 01:20 PM

**** 潔い:いさぎよい;ISAGI-YOI ****

This is very difficult word to translate.

It means a positive state of mind to accept losing. Do you understand? Or, does it make sense for you?

This word relates to the deep part of Japanese mind. For a SAMURAI, to lose is not shameful. Instead, it is shameful when you win using unfair method. ****Added: Clean loser is much better than dirty winner. ****

Not only the win/lose situation, ISAGI-YOI is often used when one giving up something like "This car has not air conditioner to decrease the cost. It is ISAGI-YOI".

Sorry for the explanation not enough.

Additional description:

We have a saying "負けるが勝ち:まけるがかち;MAKERU GA KACHI" meaning "To lose is to win" when translated word to word. I know you will feel strange. Learn it by yourself.


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Last edited by RadioKid : 02-27-2021 at 03:11 PM.
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