~Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings~ Pt. 3 of X
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: 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:
the proper strength of the flame
the proper amount of cooking-through
the properly level of strength/power to put into something
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.
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.
I think everything went well because he dealt with everything skillfully.
going easy, holding back
This is pretty straightforward.
Kobayashi! I'm not going to go easy on you just 'cause you're a human!
the temperature of bathwater
If you've ever lived in Japan, you know the importance of a good bath.
This bath is just right!
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.)
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'.)
checking spice/seasoning levels of food, taste-checking
Another straightforward one. Pretty much synonymous with 味見 (あじみ, ajimi).
Checking the flavor diligently, I fine-tuned it.
a difficult/delicate thing or process requiring close attention to detail lest it go off to one extreme or another
It was a really delicate process, and I ended up spending a lot of effort on it.
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.
I figured, I'm an adult, it's well past time for me to leave my parents' house.
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.
Being careless with machinery is dangerous!
I've never seen such a useless person until now! (In this sense, it's kind of like 役立たず.)
Are you sure it's ok for you to say such careless/half-baked things?
See you next time on KN^4!