Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let's Enjoy Japanese: Guilt and loathing and grammar

For those times that you feel really bad about something, like for example getting into a fight with your girlfriend about something stupid, really upsetting her, and feeling like an asshat afterwards, I give you a few words and expressions useful expressions and a grammar note.


First off, "guilty." A good word to remember here is やましい。(疚しい)
As in やましい気持ちあるから寝れなかった。(I feel guilty so I couldn't sleep)

Second, to beat yourself up (over something): 自分を責める

Next, to hate yourself. I think this is more in the sense of really regretting something you did or are doing, not actual self-loathing. 自分(のこと)が嫌だ。 OR 自分(のこと)が嫌い

As far as my grammar tip, I think it's worth noting that a very easy mistake to make in the early (even to mid) stages of learning a foreign language is to try and translate expressions exactly as they would be in your native tongue. Sometimes they will be the same, but often not. Feeling guilty is a good example of this. Whereas one might be tempted to look up the words for "to feel" and "guilty" and stick'em together, that wouldn't work in Japanese. Well, you might be understood, but you wouldn't sound very smart saying something like やましい感じてる。Instead we use 気持ち (feeling) or 心 (heart) to express that we literally have guilty feelings or a guilty heart. Worth noting in your studies!


  1. Always like reading these kinds of posts since it's always good to see how other learners of the language perceive differences in word/expression meanings, usage, culture,etc...

    A few Japanese people I know have used a katakanaized version of guilty for as long as I can remember. That's why I never knew the Japanese word for it until a couple of years ago. I still never use it myself, but also I've been mixing a lot of well-understood English words into my conversations lately so I can see how even words I know well are going to fall out of use for me.

  2. Interesting. Yeah, seems like the amount of words you can katakanaize and still be understood using is growing rapidly.