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Friday, March 20, 2009

教科書に載ってない日本語

KN^4: More phrases to make your 言い回し more 日本人ぽい.

~Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings~ Pt. 3 of X



Someone wrote a book about me...

After a week off, I'm back with more wonderful words to help describe feelings, or, as we'll see today, status or conditions. We have gotten slightly off of the original topic, but today's words are, in my opinion, among not only the most difficult but also the most useful and important constructions in the Japanese language. Using them correctly will greatly increase the 日本人ぽさ of your 言い回し. (Actually, I just realized that 言い回し ought to get an explanatory post of its own...) Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to do a proper write-up on 機嫌, 様子, or さま yet, so they will have to wait until part 4. Without further ado, I give you:

加減
かげん
kagen
As I mentioned earlier, Jeff mentioned this word in the very first KN^4 post. It's one of those words that you don't really notice until you've learned it, at which point you start seeing it EVERYWHERE. It's got a few meanings, but is easy enough to understand.

Let's take a quick look at the characters. 加 means to add; 減 means to subtract or lessen. In the end, it's all about balancing these two ideas.

The first (and actually least used) meaning comes into play when you meet a friend or acquaintance who you know has been sick, and you'd like to ask how they are feeling.
A:おかげんいかがですか?
B:ええ、大変でしたけどおかげさまでもうすっかり治りました。
A: How are you feeling/doing?
B: It was rough, but thankfully I'm all better now.

Because this word implies that the person being spoken to is sick (and therefore is deserving of 気づかい), you have to be somewhat careful when you use it. I think that sometimes people confuse it with the similarly pronounced "ご機嫌いかが?" which is often used simply as "how are you?" without any implications. This is a big mistake. Making this mistake can cause a serious bout of 迷惑 for the listener, especially if they are worried that they are making you 気を遣う. Now you know the difference, and knowing is half the battle.

How else can you use it? Essentially, it means the level of something. Consider, for example, 進み加減, which means how far something has progressed. (In this way, it resembles 具合 pretty closely.) More often, it means the proper level of something necessary to accomplish a particular goal. In addition to 加減 by itself, you can hybridize with nouns, adjectives, or verbs. Nouns require no connector (such as の or な), adjectives are turned into nouns with ーさ, and verbs are conjugated to their ます stems. Here are some examples:
火加減
the proper strength of the flame
火の通し加減
the proper amount of cooking-through
力の入れ加減
the properly level of strength/power to put into something
甘さ加減
correct level of sweetness

There are a few specific 加減 words that have interesting/unique meanings, as well. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it will be useful.

匙加減
さじかげん
saji kagen
prescription, measurement, consideration, reaction
This phrase originally referred to the measuring of medicine with a spoon (さじ). Depending on the doctor's skill with the dispensing 匙, the medicine could be effective, ineffective, or even end up poisoning or killing the patient. 匙加減, therefore, has come to mean the way that one deals with problems or other unexpected happenings, where skill and delicacy are required, or even just to a certain situation in general.
彼のさじ加減が良かったからうまく行ったと思う。
I think everything went well because he dealt with everything skillfully.


手加減
てかげん
tekagen
going easy, holding back
This is pretty straightforward.

小林!人間だからって、手加減はしないよ!
Kobayashi! I'm not going to go easy on you just 'cause you're a human!

湯加減
ゆかげん
yukagen
the temperature of bathwater
If you've ever lived in Japan, you know the importance of a good bath.
この湯加減、ちょうどいいな!
This bath is just right!

ダメさ加減
だめさかげん
damesa kagen
worthlessness/uselessness
This is used for pretty egregious examples of incompetence. Can also be used humbly when talking about your own failures. (Humility is an important part of making your 言い回し more 日本人ぽい, so expect a KN^4 on that later.)
金融業界のバブル崩壊で、それにかかわっている人のダメさ加減が分かってきた。
Looking at the bursting of the financial bubble, I really got a sense of the uselessness of the people involved in the industry. (NB This does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Daily Yoji or any of its writers. Just sayin'.)

加減見
かげんみ
kagenmi
checking spice/seasoning levels of food, taste-checking
Another straightforward one. Pretty much synonymous with 味見 (あじみ, ajimi).
まめに加減見をしながら味を整えた。
Checking the flavor diligently, I fine-tuned it.

加減物
かげんもの
kagenmono
a difficult/delicate thing or process requiring close attention to detail lest it go off to one extreme or another
それも加減もので、かなり手を焼いてしまったよ。
It was a really delicate process, and I ended up spending a lot of effort on it.

いい加減
いいかげん
ii kagen
enough, already ("enough already," even)
Saved the most commonly heard one for last. Jeff already explained what it means in いい加減にしろ (see the KN^4 linked above), so I won't go over that again. You should know, however, that it has wider usage, too. More than just being fed up with someone and telling them to cut whatever they are doing out, it can also be used to describe a situation where something is ripe for happening, or even overdue.
もう大人だし、いい加減実家を出なくちゃいけないと思った。
I figured, I'm an adult, it's well past time for me to leave my parents' house.
自分自身が問題の原因であることに、いい加減気付いてほしい。
I want her to realize already that no one but herself is the causing this problem.

いい加減 can also, however, mean something like careless, useless, half-baked, or lazy.
機械をいい加減に操ると危険だぞ!
Being careless with machinery is dangerous!
こんないい加減な人を、今まで見たことがない!
I've never seen such a useless person until now! (In this sense, it's kind of like 役立たず.)
そんないい加減なこと、言っていいのか?
Are you sure it's ok for you to say such careless/half-baked things?

こんないい加減なポスト、書いていいのか?

See you next time on KN^4!

1 comment:

Matt said...

いいよ、感謝する!いつも通り役に立ったな。