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Saturday, December 27, 2008

教科書に載っていない日本語

Japanese That Ain't in The Textbook

Don't get all excited, we're still not going "Nightly Yoji" on you just yet.

I just wanted to write an entry of words and phrases that aren't really special in any kanji-centric sort of way; they're just things that I never came across in any formal study, but have proved very useful to know for my daily life in Japan.

To quote one Nirav Mehta, "These are the kinds of things that you need to make your 言い回し more 日本人っぽい."

And keep in mind, just because I never saw them in a textbook, doesn't mean they're not in anyone's textbook. I'd prefer not to get comments saying "That's on pg 46 in this book. You suck."

But then, I'd also actually prefer to GET comments.

So we'll throw up three for today, and first of all is: first of all.

取り合えず
とりあえず

toriaezu

at first; for now; we'll begin with

「とりあえず、生」 is quite possibly the most useful phrase I had never heard until I actually got to Japan. Just like 極める、it's one of those words that, Japanese people are surprised to hear a foreigner use and they consider to be "high level." This isn't because it's a hard word or anything, this is because, for the most part, it's a word with a very specific context. It's used most often when ordering food or drinks in a restaurant. The reason I don't really think that it's all that "high level" is because the context in which you are most likely to hear it, is a context to which you are probably exposed to regularly. The 生 in 「とりあえず、生」 comes from 生ビール, which is draft beer. 「とりあえず、生」 is "We'll start with beer."

While in Japan, "We'll start with beer," carries implications that later you'll be switching to the heavy stuff, you should still feel free to use it for any kind of order. It lets your server know that what you're ordering now is only the beginning, and you'll want to order more later. Using this word will save you from having to explain that you want to hang on to the menu, if it's that kind of place. And, while 「以上です」 means, "That will be all," and you use it when you're done ordering, you can combine the two to make 「とりあえず以上です」 to mean: "That's it for now."

Don't treat とりあえず as though it's interchangeable with まず though, because the nuances are a little different. I'd love to get a native speaker to confirm this for me, but here's how I perceive the difference. ○ means good usage while × means poor usage.

× とりあえず、仕事を探します。できてから、借りるアパートを探し始める。
まず、仕事を探します。できてから、借りるアパートを探し始める。

○ Aさん:アパートが見つかったの?
○ Bさん:ま、とりあえず、仕事を探しています。

Does that make sense? If Emi or Blue would like to help clarify the differences between とりあえず and まず it would be greatly appreciated.


「何々」よりはましだ
「なになに」 より は まし だ
naninani yori wa mashi da
It's better than [something]
This is one that you can probably already say very easily in a different way. 「XはYよりいいです。」 So why bother with まし? Easy. Because people say it, a lot.

My DS Dictionary lists the following examples:

降参するくらいなら死んだほうがましだ。
I would die before I would give in.

ないよりはましだ。
It's better than nothing.

I first came across まし in my Japanese language copy of "The Spiderwick Chronicles:"
これじゃあ、一人で寝るほうがましなくらいだ。
Sleeping alone would (probably) have been better.
(ましなくらいだ means the same as ましだ, but it's more of a young person's phraseology. Younger people attach くらいだ to the end of adjectives, and it takes some of the strength away from the statement, making it a bit more vague.)

The first time I ever tried to use it, I was with a friend from Tokyo who was complaining about how cold it was in Saga. I got to answer 「だが、東京よりましだろう?」

いい加減にしろ
いいかげんにいしろ

ii kagen ni shiro
That's enough!
加減 alone, as Nirav enlightened me earlier today, is a great word to know but that you probably won't come across in your basic text books. 加減 means, basically, the correct amount, so (again thanks to Nirav), you can say things like 力の入れ加減 (the right amount of strength to apply), or 焼き加減 (the right amount of cooked!).

いい加減にしろ (using the imperative form of する at the end there), translates as "Make that the correct amount," or in other words, "Stop there." But you can conjugate it through politeness and formality levels so that you could say 「いい加減にしましょうか」, meaning "Why don't we stop right there..." or as written above, 「いい加減にしろ!」 meaning, "FUCKING QUIT IT!"

And that seems like a good note to end this post on. More 教科書に乗っていない日本語 some other time!

2 comments:

Caio Izaú said...

I've heard いい加減にしろ one millinon times already. But is was not quite sure of the meaning. Thanx :)

And sorry for the bad english.
外人だからさー

AzzidisRidden said...

No problem! I got to use it, a million times, at the "discipline problem" school where I used to work.

And please, don't let your shyness keep you from commenting in the future. We're all learning together here!