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Friday, February 20, 2009


Even More Japanese That Ain't in the Book

Nirav promises to finish up his series explaining some of the nuances of the many words you can use to talk about one's condition, especially some of the words using 気, but in the meantime, I'm gonna toss in a few more feelings phrases "to help make your 言い回し more 日本人ぽい."

One thing that was really difficult for me, when I first came to Japan, was explaining to people how I felt, especially if how I felt was anything other than "元気." Nirav will get into this more in his post, but really, the only thing I was equipped with, in terms of saying, "I don't feel good" was "気分悪い."

However, telling people that I was 気分悪い almost always had the effect of making them think that I was sick, and giving me more attention when most of the time, what I wanted to let them know was that I was in the mood to be left alone.

Thanks to Brett, I now know that I can simply explain that "the bug's whereabouts are bad" but what about getting more specific about why you're not in a good mood?

Luckily, if you're in Japan long enough to form close relationships, especially romantic ones, you'll learn how to express all kinds of moods. And if you want to know what to say without having to get in a bunch of fights with a significant other, well, that's why The Daily Yo-ji is here.

iraira suru

to be/get frustrated; to feel frustration

Do NOT trust Rikai-chan on this one. I've NEVER heard this used to mean "getting nervous." See the next point on the list for that. Use this to express frustration, being fed up, and having things get on your nerves.

dokidoki suru



kinchou suru

to be nervous; to feel nervous tension

ドキドキ is the sound of a heart beat, and when you get nervous, your heart starts beating faster. These are great words to use about anything that makes you nervous: having to give a speech, trying something for the first time, when the pressures on you to do or say the right thing, getting on a roller coaster, petting a lion, etc. 

MOST of the time, you can use these two interchangeably. When I was meeting my girlfriend's family for the first time, I could (and did) use BOTH 緊張する and ドキドキする。

However, when you're with a boyfriend or girlfriend, you might feel 緊張, but you'd be better off telling them that you are ドキドキしている. 緊張 might be interpreted as, "You make me tense." ドキドキ is like, "You give me butterflies," or "You make my heart beat faster."


moyamoya suru

to feel sad; to be upset; to be gloomy

This is good for when you're down about something, and can't (or don't want to) explain why. When nothing's wrong, but you're still upset, or when a bunch of little things have combined to make you feel like EVERYTHING is depressing, that's もやもや.


to get upset; to reach the breaking point; to be fussy;
to throw a tantrum

Again, leave the Rikai-chan translation alone on this one. It'll just confuse you (to become perverse? inferiority complex? what?). It does have some other applications, but here's the easiest way to think of it: a child throwing a temper tantrum is いじけている. You can use it about yourself or others if it's a situation where the person in question is so upset that they can't do anything but be upset, or if they're making a show of how upset they are, like a crying child. I don't recommend using it, because I associate it with things like being わがまま (making a scene when you don't get your way) and the idea of 切れる emotionally where you just SNAP, but as others have pointed out, it also has the nuance of "being fussy," which, just like in English, can sometimes be thought of as endearing in small doses. And one more fun note about いじける: You can call people who are overdoing it, "いじけ虫." But watch out. If they really are pissed, you might make it worse!


After I posted this, Brett had trouble looking up いじける、which lead to long conversations with native Japanese speakers about いじける (it's 標準語, so it wasn't one of those "DAMN YOU, SAGA-BEN[ben = dialect]!" moments), and then today we got a comment from reader mico saying some of the same things. Bolded phrases above have been added to reflect where we needed to make changes, and a few sentences that were incorrect have been removed. Thanks for the input!



jljzen88 said...

A couple of my favorites:
ムカつく: Pissed off
落ち込む: Feeling down そのままだ!
うつ病: Being depressed (though that's kinda clinical)
神経質: Jittery, on edge

These are all pretty standard. Never heard of いじける before

mico said...

mmm... a crying child is not いじけてる. She is just being a pain in the ass. As you said, いじける is when someone is upset and highly discouraged. You go to the corner of a room and sit there without saying or doing anything (no crying, no complaining or whining), and people would ask you "何いじけてるの?戻っておいでよ。" but because you are いじけてる、you would say "いじけてないもん” and stay there until you feel better.

Actually it's a useful word, even when you are ムカついてる、instead, you can say "いじけてる”、it sounds softer and people would be more sympathetic to you. It's kinda cute when adults いじける (don't overdo it though, haha)

AzzidisRidden said...

Because of the comments, and a long discussion with Brett about the actual nuances of いじける、 I'm updating the post to reflect a fuller definition.

If you could look over the new definition and see what you think, we appreciate your input.

I learned the word "いじける" teaching 小学校一年生s, and heard it used many, many times, to describe children who were crying... not just sad and crying, or with a skinned knee, but crying like the girl in the picture. I've also heard my friends use it to describe their kids, nephews, nieces, etc, and while it does get used in terms of adults, I've mostly heard it used about upset kids who are being a pain in the ass.

I should've been more clear about what I meant when I put the post up, but I feel really confident that you can say that a crying child is "いじけている," but please, check the expanded text in the original post.


mico said...

いじける definitely doesn't involve crying or whining (unless the definition has changed over a couple of decades!!! I'm in my late twenties...).
As you defined, いじけてる person can't do anything about it until the mood goes away, but he is mature enough not to express his negative feelings overly like crying.

いじけてる person doesn't cry out loud, but he/she would ぶつぶつ言う, or don't say anything but his silent behavior definitely tells you that something is wrong with that person.

But I am really curious to know that 小学1年生 actually refer crying kids as いじけてる... hmmmm...
Try to ask one of the teachers you work with. I'm pretty sure they (older generation folks?)have more or less the same assumption as I do.

AzzidisRidden said...

The kids don't say that about each other. The teachers do. Many times when a child is crying and I've tried to calm them down, the teachers say "don't, they're ijiketeiru." My girlfriend has 8 nieces and nephews, all still elementary school age, and when they start crying and whining, her family uses "ijiketeiru." She uses it about herself sometimes when she acts in the way you're describing. I guess it's a hard word to translate directly.

In any case, it seems like the word is as confusing as the Rikai-chan definition makes it seem. As it says in the post, I think it's okay to describe "being upset in a showy way that gets attention" with いじける and I think it's okay for that to include whining and crying. Since I've heard it mostly about kids, I never thought that it had any relation to maturity, and いじける in general seems like an immature reaction to problem.

I will keep in mind that it has the nuances and connotations you described.

RYUICHI said...

Hello, I'm Ryuichi from Japan. I'm a Nirav's friend, and he is also my conversation partner.
This brog is very interesting, for Japanese as well.

I have tried to write example sentence.

今日TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language)を受けました。ここ最近は、覚えの悪い自分に対して、時にはいらいらしながら勉強を毎日続けていましたがさすがに試験前はドキドキしていました。しかし、試験開始直前コンピュータにトラブルがあり、ヘッドセットを交換してもらいました。しかし、交換後のヘッドセットも本当に直ったのかしばらくは分からず、試験中もずっともやもやしていました。結局試験自体は失敗。良い点数はとれそうもありません。自分がみじめで、今夜は少しいじけています。

That's a true story.

AzzidisRidden said...

Hey Ryuichi! Thanks for checking out our blog, and for your examples! It's cool that you used them ALL in the same story.

I'm sorry to hear about that though. I hope you have better luck when you take it again. Don't give up.

Anonymous said...

Hey, just stumbled across your blog by following links and am very tickled by it! I've added a link to it on my Japanese readings/translation blog and I'll definitely keep an eye on you guys for more updates!

Anonymous said...

"気分悪い" will indeed prompt reactions about your physical condition, however a slight change might alter its meaning: 機嫌が悪い (or alternately of course 機嫌がいい). As 機嫌 (kigen) means mood or temper, saying that will definitely deliver the message that you're in a bad mood/cranky/cross and not in a bad health condition. From examples I've run into it can be said by one referring to oneself and by others referring to a 3rd party (shes rather cranky at the moment, you better not ask her for that raise you wanted). As always great post, learned a lot from it.

jljzen88 said...

How about ご機嫌斜め(ごきげんななめ), which means, also, to be in a bad mood, similar to 機嫌が悪い