Swear Words Always Come First
Now I have many readers who are studying Japanese language in abroad, so I would like to start writing about Japanese language. However, there are lots of “language learning” kind of books and sites and it seems that there is already enough information on internet as well as schools. I am not a professional teacher of language and I’d take a backseat to those professionals. What I’d like to do is, on the other hand, to tell you something that you don’t have to know, which will never help you to raise your grade in JLPT, Japanese-Language Proficiency Test…
Anyway, I like studying languages. I started to learn English by myself when I was around 10 years old as I wanted to know what my favorite songs were saying. Computers or internet did not exist in those days and I used a typewriter to write down the lyrics of the songs…
It was like a game to me. I made my original lyric books and learned the language from the music. I even learned the words that the teachers at my school never taught me.
Foreigners have a habit of learning swear words first.
I was in Italy for a year to learn Italian. I have an experience that I startled the teacher at Italian language school saying,
“Questa mattina ho dovuto scopare nella mia stanza.”
I wanted to say “I had to clean my room this morning.” but I made two mistakes in this phrase;
1. “Scopare” is a word which means “to sweep”. I didn’t sweep but cleaned my room, so the verb “scopare” was not appropriate. “Pulire” would have been better.
2. “Nella” means “in the”. “Scopare” is a verb transitive so I had to say simply “scopare la mia stanza”.
These two were grammatical errors that I made. But I made one more big mistake, a fatal one, which shocked the teacher.
The verb “Scopare” has another meaning. It means “to f_ck”…
Even worse, accidentally, as I put the preposition, “in”, the phrase was grammatically correct with the meaning;
“This morning I had to f_ck in my room.”
I can’t tell which was annoying to me, “morning” or “in my room”, though…
If my teacher had been a jokey Roman, there would have been no problem at all. But I had a square type female teacher in my class. I’m sure she hated me… But at this moment my vocabulary was enriched.
Actually, the German word that I learned after “Ich liebe dich.” was “scheisse”, which my Swiss friend used to say every five minutes…
FYI, meaning of “scheisse” by Urban dictionary
1. German word for “crap” or “shit”
2. Exclamation frequently used by me when I am angry, frustrated, or surprised.
When I was in Cologne alone, I took a taxi from the airport. At the moment I had to pay, I noticed that I had only 100 euro bills in my purse. A driver spoke only German and the German phrases I knew were only two above… But I could make myself understood saying,
“Is this scheisse for you??”
In Japan, in front of a newly opened ice cream shop, I found a long queue and I couldn’t decide if I should get in a line. I saw a non-Japanese-looking guy eating an ice cream, so I asked him,
“How is it?”
Then he said, “Cho- yabai!” (超やばい（ちょうやばい）!), which stunned me so much and I didn’t know how to react to his feedback…
Recently, the adjective “Yabai” (やばい) is widely used, especially by younger generations, for “very good”, “awesome”, or “cool”. But it was originally a word used only by professional thieves or illegal fakers, which meant “risky”, “coming out in the wash”, or “police will come”. So, my grandmother always told me that ladies should never use that word when I was a child, when it was started to be used also by normal people. (The meaning remained the same but had nothing with police.) But now, it has become an adjective frequently used also for something positive.
On the other hand, 超 (cho) is an adverb frequently used, which means “super”. Longer you pronounce, the greater the meaning becomes. So, when the degree of your astonishment is high, you should say “chooooooooo” rather than “cho“.
超やばい (Cho- yabai) is a phrase which you should refrain from using in a formal conversation. You will have a risk to sound as if you were an idiot, but you can make friends easily with Japanese people!
TODAY’S SUMMARY: If you use the word “CHO” or if you use the word “YABAI” in a positive meaning, you will sound very natural, but too natural and everybody would think that you speak Japanese very fluently.
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