Japanese has several words which contain opposing meanings and these can be tricky to understand at first. As always, the key to unlocking their meaning is context. I’ll discuss these with examples of both opposing meanings.
やっぱり (Yappari, also written as やはり or abbreviated as やっぱ)
This word is more frequently written using hiragana, but learning the kanji (矢っ張り) can help you remember the meanings, because 矢 means “arrow”. The first meaning of this word is “I thought so”, or you can remember as “the arrow hit”.
- I knew it, Murakami Haruki (the author) is awesome!
You could say this phrase if you were thinking Mr. Murakami was a great author, but after reading another of his books your admiration was renewed.
As it turns out, this word can also have the exact opposite meaning, “On second thought…” or “Actually…”. Using the “arrow” memory aid you can think of this as “the arrow missed”.
- On second thought, I think I’ll pass.
You could say this phrase after someone invites you to a party, but after thinking for a moment you decide to not go.
(I want to thank my old friend “K” for first teaching me this word’s meanings way back in the day)
This word’s kanji is 今度 which matches up with the first of its meanings – “this time”.
Let’s say you just started playing a game of chess with your friend. You could say:
- This time I’ll show you (and win) !
This word can also loose the sense of “recurring time” and just turn into a general feeling of “later” in cases like “今度また遊ぼうね”, which can be translated as “Let’s play again later”.
Can you guess this word’s other meaning? Thats right, its “next time” (:
Continuing with the same example, assume you lost that game of chess but plan to play the same opponent again next week. In that case you could say:
- Next time, I’ll definitely show you (and win) !!
Seem confusing? It is! But if you think about it, in both of these examples it’s clear which meaning is being used.
This word’s first meaning is “appropriate” or “suitable”. For example,
- He is the most appropriate person for this job.
(Example inspired by the one found here)
I hear this word used for a different meaning more often. That’s right, you guessed it – “not suitable”, “random”, “inappropriate”, etc.
- Please don’t say things arbitrarily (i.e. things that are random or untrue).
Another example you’ll see often in school settings:
- Please sit down anywhere you want.
A synonym for this second meaning is いいかげん。
That’s all for this time. I hope you learned something and can add these words to your lexicon (if they weren’t there already).