Friday, June 3, 2011

Say What? - "You poor cute bastard"

If you happen to encounter a tasty looking morsel and would like to express yourself in 日本語/Japanese then simply say おいしいそう (oishii sou), meaning "that looks delicious." Breaking it down おいしい (oishii) is an adjective meaning delicious, and そう has multiple meanings/uses but in this case translates into English as 'looks like.' In the polite culture of Japan, this expression is heard all too often. You could plop a plate of burnt tator tots in front of a guest and they would immediately gasp "おいしいそう" pretending to faint with anticipation.

I began to notice this formula repeated when colleagues responded to my charming smile with "元気そう" (genki sou), meaning "you look happy / full of life." While not a master of Japanese, I thought the time came to hone my skills and apply 'adjective + そう' to other situations.

But before I could, I heard it again, "かわいいそう"(kawaii sou). かわいい, not to be confused with こわい (kowai / scary), means 'cute.' I would go on to hear "kawaii sou" several times, and eventually came to the conclusion "everyone thinks I'm cute." Boy was I wrong.

かわいいそう can actually be translated as "You poor thing," or "I'm sorry to hear about that," and is used as a reaction to hearing of another's trouble or peril. I received the memo too late. Even with a math degree I wouldn't be able to count the number of people I said "かわいいそう" too. Oh well, at least I and now you know not to apply the formula to any other adjective.

Though...if I encounter a sad faced gorgeous gal, I may just have to say "かわいい かわいいそう," which using my own rules of language would translate into "You poor cute bastard."

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