Japanese Words like Sugoi Which Have Multiple Meanings

People around the world express their thoughts and emotions through many ways. Some resort to the art while others resort to writing or music but the people who resort to such things are usually the uniquely creative people. Those who aren’t so blessed with jaw-dropping talents express themselves through simple words and although it is simple, communication through words is the most common means of expression in the world today. This may be a bit harder to do in Japan because they have words and phrases that are very similar but mean completely different things.  A solid example of such words and phrases is the Japanese word “Sugoi”.

The Basic Definition of Japanese Word Sugoi and Its Meaning in English as well as Other Words like it

The Japanese language is one that has been known to be tricky to those who do not understand it completely. This is the notion about it because the meaning of some words and phrases, when based on its definition in a dictionary which can translate into something completely different when used in live conversation or in other social situations or occasions.

Sugoi, based on the general definition in the dictionary means “great” or “amazing”. Judging from this alone, you can easily make the mistake of assuming that it is merely a simple word because it just means great or anything else synonymous with it.  If you are part of the group of people who think this way, you will be extremely surprised to learn just how diverse this word is in the Japanese language as you read on.

Using just one word to expound on this point of complexity for the Japanese language can be something that people will see as insufficient or unproven. Since that may be the case in this very instance, some other words will be discussed here to further emphasize the complexities found in the language and those words are the ones which have the similar mechanics to the word “Sugoi” to focus in on the point of this article.

The word would be “Yamete” which translates to “stop” via dictionary. There are many more words that can be discussed but for simplicity’s sake, these three will have to do.

Giving New Meaning to the Word by changing it into Variations like “Sugoi Desu”, “So Sugoi”, and “Sugoi Ne” and How This Dynamic Applies to the Other Japanese Words

Now that you know what the definition of these words from the dictionary, you can now learn about how these definitions change drastically with the slightest modification starting with the word “Yamete”. This word means stop but there are actually several ways to tell someone to stop.

Using “Yamete” alone in an actual conversation can make the person you are talking to feel like they are being scolded like a parent would scold his or her child. This should already start making you wonder how it went from saying stop to scolding someone to stop considering that nothing has changed with the word. This scenario best showcases the complexity of the Japanese language.

To avoid creating misunderstands due to this confusing fact, some words are added to make the tone and purpose of whatever it is that you are trying to say more apparent to the person you are talking to. Adding kudasai, which means “please”, is the most common way to politely tell someone to stop doing something.

If by any chance, you actually want to convey a harsher way for telling someone to stop doing something, you can add “kure” after “yamete” to make your statement sound like an urgent command. “Yamero” is also used to change the tone of the word into something more intense because changing the “te” to a “ro” is understood as making the word more masculine, hence more intense when used in a conversation.

Moving onto the next word, “desu” is commonly used as a modifying word to a phrase. It translates to “I’m” because when people introduce themselves in Japanese, they do so by saying their name and the following it up with the word “desu”. You might be wondering why the translation of “I’m” comes after your name when that would literally translate to “(name) I’m” which doesn’t make sense. The reason behind this is because this is how the Japanese language was and still is structured.  Whether it be January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, October, November, or December, this will always be the order of how to say it.

The word “desu” is considered a modifying word because it can mean so many things when mixed with different words. For example, “What’s your name?” in Japanese translates to “O name wa nan desu ka”. To say that you like something in Japanese, you say “Suki desu”. To say that something is good, you say “ii desu yo”. To say something is not good, you say “dame desu”.

There are many other word combinations with “desu” that have different meanings as well and this complexity is why it is considered a modifier.The word “desu” even plays a role in changing the meaning of the word “Sugoi” in some instances but before going into that, you should first know how “Sugoi” is also considered as a word with an ever-changing meaning.

It was mentioned above that “Sugoi” means “amazing”. When this word is combined or used with other words, its meaning might not change drastically but it does change the tone of the message enough for it to matter in conversation. For example, saying “Sugoi ne” changes the usual statement of amazement into a tag question. This means that from proclaiming that something is amazing, adding “ne” in the end changes its meaning to “it is amazing, isn’t it?”.

When the word “Sugoi” is combined with the word “desu”, it does not translate into “I’m great”. In this scenario, Sugoi becomes an enhancer of whatever the topic is. For example, the sentence “Sugoi Monday Desu ne” has both words in it and when translated into English, it means “It’s a horrible problem”. On the other side, if you take a look at the sentence “Anata no kuruma wa Sugoi desu” when it is translated into English, the meaning becomes “Your car is great”. These instances are proof that you should not abuse the usage of “Sugoi” because it doesn’t always mean something positive or nice.

Sugoi can also mean “very” in some instances but for this to happen, a person must interchange the “I” in “Sugoi” for “ku”. When used in a sentence like “Atsui desu”, which means “It’s hot”, the sentence becomes “Sugoku atsui desu” which means “It’s very hot”. Once again both “desu” and “Sugoi” were in that sentence yet it still meant something else compared to its meaning in the earlier examples.

How Knowing These Small Difference with the Words Can Make a Big Difference in Your Effectiveness to Express Yourself

The examples mentioned earlier are proof that knowing these seemingly minute details with Japanese words and phrases can change what you are trying to say completely. The reason you are trying to learn these words in Japanese is to have an easier time trying to communicate with them but if you are not aware of the changes mentioned above, your knowledge in Japanese vocabulary will not be enough to give a good impression to the people you will meet.

To be able to convey exactly what you what to say is the most effective way to truly express yourself and this will be very hard to do if you are unaware of such rules and dynamics of the Japanese language. You may not master the language but if you are conscious about such rules and constructs, at the very least, it will really give you a boost in attaining the self-expression you would want to have when talking and meeting new people. After all, expressing yourself is also a way of showing your character and personality.