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no equiv

英語を勉強している方のためのフォーラムです。練習のために英語の文章を投稿してもかまわなく、英語の文法・語彙に関する質問をしてもけっこうです。

no equiv

Postby hiwa » Wed 04.18.2007 5:35 am

This is both interesting and important topic.
What is the common Japanese word or phrase you know that can't have English equivalent?

The most typical one would be:
よろしくお願いします
(We Japanese say it so so so often!)
http://otsubo.info/contents/ewords/eword01.html
http://www.kansai-u.ac.jp/fl/publication/research/pdf/10/01%20takahashi.pdf
http://blog.so-net.ne.jp/ikemura/2007-03-30

prep_girl_Nessa wrote:
hiwa wrote:

We Japanese sometimes annoy English natives by asking an English equivalent for a Jpanese word or phrase which, by any means, does not have real equivalent in English language sphere or its unique culture and life. You currently are doing the same toward us Japanese natives.


Exactly. What's the english equivalent of しつれいします? Literally, it translates to something like, "I'm being annoying," but we wouldn't say that in English.

Learning a language means to learn how to speak, not learning how to translate. (If that makes any sense.)
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RE: no equiv

Postby Kagemaru » Wed 04.18.2007 6:41 am

・なんとなく
・おちがない
・もったいない
・三日坊主
・心機一転

Off the top. I'm sure I'll be adding to this later :)

Edit: 微妙

やっぱりな・・・
Last edited by Kagemaru on Wed 04.18.2007 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: no equiv

Postby SolidSnail » Wed 04.18.2007 6:46 am

It would be nice if you could put a brief explanation/context next to each phrase...
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RE: no equiv

Postby hiwa » Wed 04.18.2007 6:54 am

SolidSnail wrote:
It would be nice if you could put a brief explanation/context next to each phrase...

Yes. If Kagemaru and other posters could give explanation in English, that should be THE 英語の練習 for us.
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RE: no equiv

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.18.2007 9:01 am

もったいない can be translated as "a waste" most of the time it's used. This even works for cases where a beautiful woman in company with a bunch of old men is called もったいない.

なんとなく is usually "somehow".

Most of the things Kagemaru can be translated into English, but you may have to choose different words depending on the context.

I think that the only truly untranslatable words are so-called "ritual expressions", things like hiwa's example of よろしくお願いします and しつれいします. Pretty much all you can do there is replace them with the phrase you would say in English in the same context. For instance, しつれいします can be replaced with "sorry", "excuse me", or even "goodbye".
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RE: no equiv

Postby Oracle » Wed 04.18.2007 9:58 am

わび
さび
切ない

Are a few words I've often seen described as having no exact equivalent in English
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RE: no equiv

Postby Oyaji » Wed 04.18.2007 12:20 pm

いただきます said before a meal and 御馳走様(ごちそうさま)said after.

Also, I'm not sure there's an exact equivalent for 頑張って(がんばって).
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RE: no equiv

Postby lalaith » Wed 04.18.2007 2:46 pm

hiwa wrote:
This is both interesting and important topic.
What is the common Japanese word or phrase you know that can't have English equivalent?

The most typical one would be:
よろしくお願いします
(We Japanese say it so so so often!)


Well, WWWJDIC has it as:
よろしくお願いします; 宜しくお願いします 【よろしくおねがいします】 (exp) please remember me; please help me; please treat me well

Plus it has these example sentences:
今後とも、おつきあいのほど、よろしくお願いします。
We look forward to working more closely with you in the future.
今後ともご支援いただけますよう、よろしくお願いします。
I hope that you will continue to favor us with your support.
今年もよろしくお願いします。
Please treat me this year as well as you did last year.
不束者ですがよろしくお願いします。
I'm not much good at anything, but pleae be kind to me.
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RE: no equiv

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.18.2007 5:13 pm

Those sentences are not idiomatic English, though.
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RE: no equiv

Postby AussieB » Wed 04.18.2007 7:06 pm

Yudan Taiteki is right - a native English speaker would never use those sentences (perhaps "We look forward to working more closely with you in the future" but I don't think the true meaning of 宜しくお願いします(like you are going to do me some kind of favour in the future) is not really felt there)

but Yudan said 「なんとなく is usually "somehow"」
but I think "somewhat", or "kind of~" is probably closer
(somehow indicates the method where as the latter 2 highlight the degree)

I also found another one that we don't say naturally in the same way in English is 懐かしい(なつかしい) and maybe even 惜しい(おしい)
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RE: no equiv

Postby AJBryant » Wed 04.18.2007 8:11 pm

・もったいない


Oh, man, did I spend a lot of time trying to explain that one once. :)

If someone gives you an extravagent or unexpected gift or does you a really big favor, it's もったいない. If you drop your bottle of scotch and spill it everywhere, it's もったいない. Serving the good scotch to an alcoholic who drinks Vat 69, it's もったいない. Swaguchi Yasuko with any man but me, it's もったいない.

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RE: no equiv

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.18.2007 8:43 pm

AussieB wrote:
but Yudan said 「なんとなく is usually "somehow"」
but I think "somewhat", or "kind of~" is probably closer
(somehow indicates the method where as the latter 2 highlight the degree)


I think なんとなくできた can be represented as "to get it done somehow", but that depends on the context. "somewhat" and "kind of" are of course possible.
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RE: no equiv

Postby lalaith » Wed 04.18.2007 8:45 pm

AussieB wrote:
Yudan Taiteki is right - a native English speaker would never use those sentences (perhaps "We look forward to working more closely with you in the future" but I don't think the true meaning of 宜しくお願いします(like you are going to do me some kind of favour in the future) is not really felt there)


"I hope that you will continue to favor us with your support."
Is something I've seen used regularly through the years. It and very close versions of it come in letters I get from charities asking for more money.
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RE: no equiv

Postby Oyaji » Wed 04.18.2007 8:48 pm

Similar to 失礼します is お邪魔します (おじゃまします), said when entering a home or room.
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RE: no equiv

Postby AussieB » Wed 04.18.2007 8:55 pm

lalaith wrote:
AussieB wrote:
Yudan Taiteki is right - a native English speaker would never use those sentences (perhaps "We look forward to working more closely with you in the future" but I don't think the true meaning of 宜しくお願いします(like you are going to do me some kind of favour in the future) is not really felt there)


"I hope that you will continue to favor us with your support."
Is something I've seen used regularly through the years. It and very close versions of it come in letters I get from charities asking for more money.


True, true, but even that sounds a little un-natural and certainly wouldn't be used as a spoken phrase...
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