Saturday, April 27, 2013

むずい (muzui)

Some of the students in my high school taught me this one.  It was in the middle of a composition class, and we were practicing the future perfect tense.  This led to the question (naturally, I think) as to why one would use the future perfect instead of the future tense.  As my team-teacher and I determinedly attempted to demonstrate through example situations the usefulness of being able to conjugate verbs in such a way, someone in the front row said to the girl next to her, "むずくない?(Muzuku nai?)"  I repeated the phrase to myself, as I often do when my students say things that I don't understand but want to remember for my own development with the language.  The girls laughed in good humor and went on to explain, "むずかしくない?(Muzukashiku nai?)"  i.e. "Geez, that's hard!" or literally, "Isn't it difficult?"

As one of the characteristics of modern Japanese is a shortening of terms through the discarding of certain syllables, so muzukashii has become, for many native speakers of this language, muzui.  When I narrated the incident to one of my older students (a nice lady who just turned 80), she deemed this to be "young people's Japanese."  ("I don't understand!" she exasperated, shaking her head.)

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