Monday, May 3, 2010

You must be very tired...

There's this expression in Japanese - it translates into something like "You must be very tired" but means something far more wonderful. I was inspired to use it today because my friend Janice Hardy just finished the first draft of her third book over the weekend - the perfect context for this expression. In Japanese it looks like this:

お疲れ様でした。

o tsuka re sama de shi ta

In practice, it sounds roughly like "otskaray sama deshta." It's untranslatable in English, but it effectively means you've accomplished something big and you should feel good about it. And also that the person saying it values (honors) the effort that you've put in.

Another interesting twist is that if you say it in the present tense instead of the past tense, it expresses gratitude for ongoing effort, and is a greeting very commonly used between work colleagues as they see one another throughout the day.

This is one of those expressions that I wish were translatable. It's also one of the ones that reminds me to think through how other cultures interact, and to try to come up with special expressions that show a cultural attitude toward effort, or companionship, or any other vitally important expression of cultural interaction. Even just one can lift your world into a greater sense of life and vitality.

So congratulations again to Janice, and for all of you who are working hard on your writing out there, I say (in present tense):

お疲れ様です。

7 comments:

  1. Congratulations to Janice! Wonderful sentiments.

    A friend of mine always ends his post and emails to me with, "Ndinombethe" an African proverb - which translates to "As I go, I am wearing you."

    It's amazing how other cultures revere simple elegant hospitality. (Hugs)Indigo

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  2. Aw, that's so sweet! And congrats to Janice, that's awesome!

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  3. Love the proverb, Indigo. Thanks for sharing it.

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  4. Megs - Scattered BitsMay 3, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Goodness, I love that! It makes me want to hunt underneath for such expressions in my own story's cultures. Besides wanting to practice the phrase to say to my lead. She soooooo should be honored in this way.

    Mind is going off on a hundred wonderful ideas... Off to my culture land. Thanks for the post!

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  5. Hey, that's a great turn of phrase. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Gotta love Japanese. Although I'm sure there are English sayings that they find just as interesting. Probably.

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  7. I love that. The perfect compliment.

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