英語のヒント vol. III: ナチュラル英語の挨拶 pt.2

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Jul 15, 2013 17:49 英語のヒント hint ナチュラル英語 natural
[EDIT: Susanoo, again, has attempted to translate my post in the comments. He is doing this in his own free time and does not guarantee everything is 100% accurate, but I think we should all appreciate his wonderful effort. Thank you!]

This is part 2 of my ナチュラル英語の挨拶 post. Part 1 was posted last Wednesday, July 10 and you can find it in my profile.

Last time, we looked at the first part of the dialogue and I listed some more natural ways to greet people and ask how they are. This time, let's look at the second half. The dialogues again:

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Japanese-English:

A: Hello.
B: Hello.
A. How are you?
B: I'm fine, thank you, and you?
A: I'm happy.

-----------------------------------------
English-English

A: Hey.
B: Hey A, how's it going?
A: Not bad. You?
B: Pretty good, pretty good. Actually, I've been great recently.
A: Yeah?
B: Yeah, I've been studying Japanese, working out and waking up earlier in the morning. Turning my life around.
A: That's awesome!
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3. 変な英語: "I'm fine, thank you, and you?"

As I said in vol. I of this series, 'fine' does not actually mean '元気'; in fact it means something closer to '普通' or '別に.' So, when native English speakers say that they are 'fine,' they usually mean that their life is going 'as usual' (or worse--I'll explain this below). This is why it is very strange for people to respond "I'm very fine!" because they are essentially saying "I am very regular!" which doesn't make much sense. Here are some other naturals ways to say 'regular':

- "Not bad" (shown in the English-English dialogue)
- "Alright" (very common)
- "I'm OK" (though this sometimes implies that you are a little sad, or recovering from sadness)
- "Same old, same old" (casual; means 'nothing significant has changed since we last spoke')

As I said in part 1, we sometimes don't ask 'how are you/how's it going?' or a question about someone's feelings, and often ask about what they are doing ('what's up?' 'what are you doing?' etc.). Ordinary responses to this question are:

- "Nothing much"
- "Nothing special"
- "The usual"

Actually, we often say this kind of response followed by what we really are doing. For example:

A: Hey man, what are you up to?
B: Nothing much, just watching TV.

or

A: Hey, what's up?
B: Nothing special, just doing my homework.

Do you see? If we are doing some sort of ordinary thing, we often say 'nothing much,' 'nothing special,' or something like that and THEN add what kind of ordinary thing we're doing. These two responses are often conjoined by the word 'just.'

So how do you actually say that you are 「私は元気です」?


4. 変な英語: "I'm happy."

That's right, outright saying that you are happy is a strange response in English! This is because, believe it or not, most people downplay their feelings; they don't respond to 'how are you?' truthfully. I'm not saying that people LIE, but when you ask 'how's it going?' it is often asked as a GREETING. People are often not looking for a truthful answer! I am not saying this is right or wrong, but I am saying this is how many people naturally interact in English. Here is a mini-dialogue to show you how this might happen:

Truth:
A: How have you been?
B: Depressed. I hate my life. My job sucks, my wife hates me, I don't know my kids. Life is meaningless.
A's thinking: Oh god, please don't tell me this....

Natural Interaction:
A: How have you been?
B's thinking: Depressed. I hate my life. My job sucks, my wife hates me, I don't know my kids. Life is meaningless.
B: I'm fine.

People often say they are fine when they are the complete opposite. A reason that they do this may be because they are generally private about their personal troubles and prefer not to be the center of gossip. However, the more you talk to them, the more they might reveal their real feelings. So B might say something like "I could be better" HINTING that his life is not going well, and as you talk more you will find out everything. This is how dialogue generally progresses in English.

But anyway, back to the "I'm happy" example. Let's look at the English-English dialogue to see how person B said "I'm happy":

B: Pretty good, pretty good. Actually, I've been great recently.
A: Yeah?
B: Yeah, I've been studying Japanese, working out and waking up earlier in the morning. Turning my life around.
A: That's awesome!

Like the depressed dialogue example above, person B downplays his feelings and then later reveals that he his happy. That is, he is humble about his emotions. Instead of saying "I'm happy" (which he really is), he says "pretty good" and then adds "Actually, I've been great recently." After person A asks him why he's been great, he reveals the full story.

Remember this: in English, if you say something other than 'I'm fine,' 'Not bad,' etc. or something meaning 'regular,' then you will most likely have to explain it! This is because people EXPECT you to be regular, and when you are not they need to know the explanation for your change of feelings. If you are indeed happy or depressed or something, you usually reveal this to the person gradually as you speak.

Of course, if you really want to shock someone or if your feelings are extreme, then you can be bold. For example:

A: How's you doing?
B: I'm so happy right now!
A: Whoa, what happened?
B: I met the love of my life!

or

A: How's it going?
B: Life is not worth living.
A: What?! What are you talking about?
B: My wife is divorcing me.

So, here are some ways you can actually say something like 元気 without sounding too shocking:

- "I'm great"
- "Pretty good"
- "Good"
- "I'm doing quite well"

You can even say something like "I'm excellent" or "I'm fabulous" but just remember that if you say anything other than 'regular' then you should give an explanation!

Hope this helps.

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