View Full Version : Need help with Japanese!

05-08-2007, 12:23 PM

05-08-2007, 07:19 PM
I'm in need of help with Japanese, and I can't seem to get things right by using Japanese dictionaries or online translation machines. :rolleyes: Could anyone who knows Japanese help me? I'd be eternally grateful:-)
I have this short sentence: "Come here, sweetheart! You can do it!" It is said by a mother to a young son, if that makes any difference.
How would this be said in Japanese? Thanks so much for anyone who can help! :Hug2:

What's the context? What's she saying the kid can do--walk towards her? I'm just trying to get an idea, since it may help with the translation. I have no idea what term of endearment a mother would use for her child; she might just call the kid "[kid's name]-chan," since adding -chan is how you make a kid's name into an affectionate diminutive.

Anyway, she probably wouldn't literally say "you can do it"; you don't hear much in the way of self esteem-boosting encouragement in Japanese, because it goes without saying that you can do it--the only question is whether you'll make the necessary effort. The basic idea there is that anyone can accomplish anything, if they try hard enough, so what they encourage is effort. In situations where Americans encourage each other by saying things like "you can do it," "you'll do great," or "good luck" (as in, good luck with that exam/that job interview/etc.), Japanese people would say some variation on the phrase "gambatte kudasai," which basically means "give it your best effort" or "try your hardest," but is said in an encouraging way. A more informal way of saying the same thing is "gambatte nee," and since this is a mother and child, they would speak informally. Sometimes that same phrase is spelled "ganbatte ne"--same difference; there are several different systems for spelling Japanese words in English, so you get variations like that, but they're all correct.

As a general rule, you want to steer well clear of any overly sweet, expressive, self-esteem boosting stuff from this Japanese mother to her child. It will ring false if you make her overly sweet or coddling towards her child; Japanese moms just don't act like American moms. If the kid is crying over something stupid, for example, the mom is not going to crouch down and coddle it and hug it. She's just going to act normal--like, if they're running errands in town and the kid's standing on the sidewalk crying, she'll just gesture to it to keep walking, and it will keep walking, crying for a little ways, and then get over its crying tantrum by itself, without being coddled. They are VERY VERY big on teaching what you might call "character" or endurance (they call it "gaman," and you could probably find a lot about that just by googling).

This isn't to say Japanese moms aren't sweet, it's just that they're not overly verbal about it and they don't coddle every little mood swing of their kid. Japanese-mom sweetness is more about silently intuiting what the kid needs--is he hungry, does he need a snack while he's studying, does he need a nap, would he feel better if they went for a walk together, etc.--and arranging things so that the kid gets what he needs without having directly asked for it.

05-08-2007, 08:38 PM
Dear Ideagirl,

I think you gave Tilda more than she thought would come--a world instead of a sound byte.

Bless you sensei.

05-10-2007, 02:22 AM
So if I use "-chan" as a diminutive for the son's name and "gambatte nee" as the "encouraging" part, do you know how she would say "come here"?

She'd probably just gesture. The Japanese gesture is different--whereas we hold a hand out, palm up and pretty high, and beckon with our index finger, they hold their hand out lower (maybe waist level, or even lower if she's gesturing to a child), with the palm down and the fingers pointing down, and they beckon with all four fingers. If you want her saying an actual word that means come here, that would be "kite" (the imperative form of kuru, to come). It would go at the end of the sentence: "[name]-chan, kite! Gambatte nee!"

She definitely wouldn't say "kudasai," because that's formal language, which is not used between family members (or friends, for that matter). Formal language is for people you don't know or know only in some role (e.g., they're the clerk at your local post office and that's the only way you ever interact with them), or they're your hierarchical superior (boss, teacher etc.).