Sunday, September 20, 2009


"I think he thought it's a shame"

Thank you for reading my blog! I have another blog "What My American Husband said(アメリカ人夫の一言)" which is pretty popular amoung my Japanese friends and other people who got to know my blog from Japanese "Blog Ranking Systems." In the blog, I introduce what my American husband actually said in our daily life, so Japanese people can study native English speaker's English. I think the concept is interesting. My readers say that they enjoy reading my experience more than the English phrase itself. So I got this idea. I can do the reverse so American people (or English speakers) can study Japanese. That is why I started this blog. Basically, this blog is a Japanese textbook + my diary.

I am a translator. That is what I do for living. And I'm telling you, I don't like to translate literally. Japanese is very different from English, so it is usually strange if you translate literally. For example, today's phrase. If you literally translate the English phrase "I think he thought it's a shame," the Japanese would be 私は、彼がそのことを恥だと思ったと思います. But this is very wordy. Wordy is not good. Japanese people call "the literal translation" 直訳(ちょくやく)which has kind a negative image. So my translation is not literal but more natural in Japanese. Oh, I have to explain this. I am living in the United States. I speak English to most people, to my co-workers, to my husband, to my dog Bojo, and even to myself. So the original phrase I said would be English most the time. Well, I think it depends. In my brain, English and Japanese co-exist and very mixed up. I do not even recognize which language I am using. Anyway, what I want to say is that the Japanese phrase I write would be translation from English.

Ok, here is the Goalden rule. You don't see Japanese textbooks which teach you very frank Japanese so often. You know why? I do. That is because they are afraid you will use the Japanese frank expressions inappropriately. Trust me, it is NOT cool to use Japanese slangs to everybody. Japanese is a very sophisticated language which can express the details of speakers feelings. Oh, yeah, I can easilly translate an English sentence to 10 different Japanese expressions depending on the lister, who the speaker is, what kind of situation, or so on. So you must be careful to use slangs and plain forms. Once again, it is not cool to use Japanese slang or a plain form to people you don't know very well. It is not only rude, but also people think you are not smart. I think it is COOL if you can perfectly distinguish the appropriate phrases depending on the situation.

But I do know that you want to know the natural Japanese which Japanese people actually speak, not just the polite forms. So first I write the Japanese phrase (with Kanji) I would use in the situation I was speaking, then English translation, and hiragana translation to show the pronunciation. Then I write Polite form and other expressions. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.

Okay, that's what I had to explain before I talk about today's phrase. I said this to my co-workers when we were having lunch together. I was talking about my dog Bojo. When we were walking together, he found a cat under a car. Because I could not notice there was a cat under the car, I let him rush to the cat. But after I heard a noise (I am not sure if it was Bojo's or the cat's), Bojo walked away from the car as if nothing happened. He did not evern turn around. I looked back the car and found a big fat cat coming under the car. I think the cat punched my dog Bojo! That's why I said today's phrase.

I was talking to my co-workers who I consider friends. So consider 恥じだと、思ったらしい is for friend's conversation. If you are talking to people you are not so close, use polite form:


One thing I should explain is that I translated "I think" to 「らしい」 which literally means "it seems like." That is my magic of translation.

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