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Definition of 恥ずかしい

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Definition of 恥ずかしい

Postby SebastianSwede » Fri 02.22.2013 5:13 am

Hi!

I'm sitting here with A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, and I'm quite confused. According to this book, 恥ずかしい means embarrassing (p.527), and one of my other books, THE HANDBOOK OF JAPANESE ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS, defines the word as "bashful, shameful". However, jisho.org defines it as shy; ashamed; embarrassed; which is correct? Is it both?

Thank you so much!
どうもありがとうございます!!!
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Re: Definition of 恥ずかしい

Postby sampaguita » Fri 02.22.2013 5:28 am

One of the things I learned after so many years of studying a foreign language (and having been exposed to a bilingual environment) is that you shouldn't try to get a one-to-one translation for every word you see. Rather, it is more important to get the "feel" of the word.

A nice way to do this would be to look at example sentences. I got the following from jisho.org (which comes from the Tanaka example sentences, I think), and I added my personal translations as well (which are more literal than that in jisho):

君のまちがいが恥ずかしい。 "I blush for your mistake." My translation: "Your mistake is embarrassing".

ついかっとなったことが恥ずかしい。 "I feel ashamed of having lost my temper." My translation: "It's embarrassing that I just lost my temper."

自分を恥ずかしいと思うことはないよ。"Don't be ashamed of yourself." My translation: "Don't think that you are embarrassing."

The way I translate it, 恥ずかしい is more of the sense of being ashamed or embarrassed (there really isn't much difference between those two words).

Going back to your question -- the definitions given in those three dictionaries don't really contradict each other. It's all about how you use the word. What's important is that you know the sense of the word, and then it's all about how to use it in a sentence. As I said earlier, looking at sample sentences is a good place to start.
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Re: Definition of 恥ずかしい

Postby jimbreen » Fri 02.22.2013 7:55 pm

sampaguita wrote:I got the following from jisho.org (which comes from the Tanaka example sentences, I think),


Yes, jisho.org uses the sentences from the Tatoeba project, which incorporated the Tanaka coprpus. There are 98 sentences there using 恥ずかしい. jisho.org's own entry comes from JMdict.

and I added my personal translations as well (which are more literal than that in jisho):

自分を恥ずかしいと思うことはないよ。"Don't be ashamed of yourself." My translation: "Don't think that you are embarrassing."


That doesn't quite mean the same thing. Being ashamed is usually confined to oneself, whereas being embarrassing can be to others as well.

Going back to your question -- the definitions given in those three dictionaries don't really contradict each other. It's all about how you use the word. What's important is that you know the sense of the word, and then it's all about how to use it in a sentence. As I said earlier, looking at sample sentences is a good place to start.


なるほど.

FWIW I have added a second sense of "disgraceful; shameful" to JMdict, which will be in jisho.org soon. Some of the 国語辞典 have this, as do some of the 和英辞典. This covers a point raised by SebastianSwede.

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Re: Definition of 恥ずかしい

Postby NileCat » Sat 02.23.2013 10:26 am

I personally find it interesting that how you can translate the concept of 恥 into English, because I think it has something to do with some cultural differences between Japan and many western countries.

A reference I found by quick googling was this.
http://www.wa.commufa.jp/~anknak/a-koto ... -tsumi.htm
(in Japanese)

And the book mentioned in the article is this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chrysa ... _the_Sword

If you really want to know the precise definition of 恥, cultural background might give you some hints to fully understand the concept.
Just my two cents.
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Re: Definition of 恥ずかしい

Postby sampaguita » Sun 02.24.2013 10:03 am

jimbreen wrote:That doesn't quite mean the same thing. Being ashamed is usually confined to oneself, whereas being embarrassing can be to others as well.


Hmm I think this depends on the language and the culture. In my native language, being ashamed and being embarrassed (of oneself) is defined by the same word. I guess that in my culture, you are ashamed of something because of what others think of you, hence the similarity in "ashamed" or "embarrassed". Actually, even "shy" is defined by the same word, so I can understand how 恥ずかしい ended up with having seemingly contradicting definitions in various dictionaries. It all depends on the culture, I guess.
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