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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Japanese words with numerous English translations

    Lot's of Japanese words are difficult to translate in English because there are so many ways of expressing it in English, with certain nuances. In bilingual books/mangas or films/animes in Japanese with English subtitles, the English translation is often not just literal, but add slang and idioms, or at least try to be creative. The results is that the English version often sounds better than the original. My impressions is that Japanese vocabulary is rather limited and repetitive.


    "Irasshaimase"

    This expression is difficult to translate into English, because it has 3 different meanings. It's the polite form of "iku" (to go), "kuru" (to come) and "iru" (to stay/be). It is used to welcome customers into shops or restaurants.
    The "-mase" ending is a kind of polite imperative. The closest translation would thus be "please come !" or just "welcome !". Sometimes, people will say "irasshatte kudasai", which means the same.

    There is another word for welcome in Japanese : "youkoso", but it's used more in the sense of really welcoming someone as a guest or visitor, normally not as a customer.


    tanoshimu@Šy‚µ‚Þ

    Could be translated easily by "enjoy oneself", but in many cases, that sounds strange in English. We could also translate it by "having fun", "having a good time", "appreciate"...

    The adjective "tanoshii" means therefore : fun, enjoyable, amusing, entertaining, relaxing, pleasant, likeable and so on.

    Here are a few related words also difficult to translate in just one word :

    1) yorokobu@Šì‚Ô (v) : rejoice, be delighted, be glad/happy/pleased...
    2) ureshii@Šð‚µ‚¢ (adj) : happpy, glad ; pleasant...
    3) omoshiroi@–Ê”’‚¢ (adj) : fun, funny, comical, entertaining, amusing, interesting...

    Lots of dictionaries give very approximate translations. For example, "omoshiroi" is often translated as "interesting", which is I think a very misleading translation. I often hear Japanese people saying that they went to Disneyland or sing karaoke and that it was "interesting" when they really mean funny, amusing or entertaining. "omoshiroi" cannot be used for the most common meaning of "interesting", e.g. saying that a book is interesting, even if it's a book on the holocaust which is not funny at all.

    There are usually more words in English, which is why Japanese people often have trouble finding an adequate translation (and think Japanese in more convenient), while English-speakers (and speakers of other European languages) usually look for nuances that don't exist in Japanese.

    Here are more examples :


    okoru “{‚é

    Always translated in dictionaries as "get angry" or "get mad" (though that is US English). There is a wide range of distinct emotions in English or European languages that is comprised in this term. There are few Japanese words to express all the nuances of : offended, displeased, vexed, incensed, exasperated, piqued, outraged, insulted, ruffled, disgruntled, irritated, upset, affronted, hurt, wounded...

    We could say that only half of those are really common in English, but I can only think of 3 common in Japanese : "okoru", "iraira suru" and "mukatsuku". The 2nd refers to irritation, nervousness or basically being flustered, agitated, confused...
    "Mukatsuku" also coneys the meaning of being sick (vomit), but is otherwise used to say that someone is irritated or offended. IMO, it's usually not strong and is a common response to little teasing. It then means "stop bothering me" or what an English-speaker would feel more inclined to reply : "f*ck you" (although it stays quite polite in Japanese).

    There is another related expression that just means "to hurt someone's feeling" : kanjou wo gai suru Š´î‚ðŠQ‚·‚é. There is no adjective for "hurt, wounded,

    In my dictionary "displeased" was rendered as "fukai dearu" •s‰õ‚Å‚ ‚é. "fukai" means "unpleasant", so "to be displeased" is just "something is unpleasant" in Japanese.

    "midasu" —‚· can be used to say that sb or sth disturb, bother, annoy or irritate you.

    Among the less common, "bujoku" •ŽJ means "insult, affront, contempt, slight..."

    Everytime, there are so much more English words that it is very difficult to render nuances in Japanese, and vice-versa, when one Japanese word is used, it's difficult to choose the most appropriate translation that has the right connotation.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Jun 17, 2003 at 17:00.

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