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SOUNDING NATURAL IN JAPANESE

Taichō, daijōbu na-no?

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Taichō, daijōbu na-no? (Do you feel all right?)

Situation 1: In the morning, Ms. Gray talks to Ms. Tamachi who was absent yesterday.

グレイ: 体調、だいじょうぶなの?よくなった?

田町: うん、もうだいじょうぶ。最近、睡眠不足だったから、ちょっと疲れていたみたい。

Gray: Taichō, daijōbu na-no? Yoku-natta?

Tamachi: Un, mō daijōbu. Saikin, suimin-busoku-datta-kara, chotto tsukarete-ita-mitai.

Gray: Do you feel all right? Are you better now?

Tamachi: Yeah, I’m OK now. I haven’t had much sleep recently and I was tired, I guess.

Today, we will introduce the proper use of だいじょうぶ, which is frequently heard in daily conversation. だいじょうぶ means “all right” or “no problem,” and is used to express one’s physical and mental condition. だいじょ うぶ can be used to express the condition of things such as machines, buildings or the weather. For example: この薬(くすり)を飲(の)んだから、もうだいじょうぶです (Now that you’ve had this medicine, you’ll be all right); この家(いえ)は台風(たいふう)が来(き)てもだいじょうぶだ (This house is safe even in a typhoon); 天気はだいじょうぶそうだから、洗濯物(せんたくもの)を干(ほ)したまま出(で)かけよう (The weather looks fine, so I’ll leave my laundry outside to dry and go out). だいじょうぶ is a na-adjective, but it is mainly used at the end of a sentence, as in X(= noun)はだいじょうぶだ/だいじょうぶです (X is all right).

Situation 2: Mr. Okubo and his client Mr. Suzuki are talking about the budget for new business.

鈴木: この予算でもだいじょうぶでしょうか。

大久保: ええ、ちょっときびしいですが、できないわけではありません。

Suzuki: Kono yosan-demo daijōbu-deshō-ka?

Okubo: Ee, chotto kibishii-desu-ga, dekinai wake-dewaarimasen.

Suzuki: Is it possible within this budget?

Okubo: Yes, it’s a little hard, but it’s not impossible.

だいじょうぶ also expresses that someone or something is steady, or goes well without worry, problem or trouble, despite the possibility of a troublesome occurrence. だいじょうぶ also shows the condition that there will be no danger, fault or loss. Example: 中野(なかの)さんなら、だいじょうぶだ。うまくやってくれるよ (I’m sure Mr. Nakano is up to it. He’ll do it very well). Recently, some young people use だいじょうぶ to ask permission, as in これを使(つか)ってもだいじょうぶでしょうか(=これを使ってもいい/よろしいでしょうか)(May I use it?), or to ask for something as in 「コーヒーのおかわりはだいじょうぶですか」(“Do you need another coffee?”)「いえ、だいじょうぶです」(“No, thank you”). But this kind of use often sounds strange.

Bonus Dialogue: When Section Chief Mr. Okubo and his staff Ms. Tamachi, Ms. Gray and Mr. Mita are having a meeting, a rather big earthquake happens.

大久保: だいじょうぶ。落(お)ち着(つ)いて。このビルは大(おお)きな地震(じしん)が来(き)てもだいじょうぶです。新(あたら)しいし、地震に強(つよ)い構造(こうぞう)になっていますから。

田町: そうですよね。安心(あんしん)しました。揺(ゆ)れもだんだん収(おさ)まってきましたよ。

グレイ: じゃ、だいじょうぶね。打(う)ち合(あ)わせを続(つづ)けましょう。

田町: でも、三田さん、だいじょうぶかな。この前(まえ)の震災(しんさい)の時(とき)けっこうパニックになっていたじゃない。

グレイ: そうね。でも、今回(こんかい)はもうだいじょうぶじゃない? 落(お)ち着(つ)いているみたい。…それで、三田さん、NX社(しゃ)との取引(とりひき)で問題(もんだい)になっていたのは何(なん)でしたっけ。

三田: はい、ええと、まず、すぐに火(ひ)を消(け)すこと。それから、机(つくえ)の下(した)に隠(かく)れることです。

田町: やっぱりだめだ。だいじょうぶかな。

Okubo: Don’t worry. Calm down. This building is safe even in a big earthquake. It’s new and has an earthquake-proof structure.

Tamachi: Yeah, it’ll be OK. I’ve calmed down. The shaking is getting less severe.

Gray: Then it’ll be all right. Let’s continue our meeting.

Tamachi: But I wonder if Mr. Mita is all right. He panicked during the big earthquake disaster.

Gray: That’s right. But he’s all right this time, right? He looks calm. So we must continue, Mr. Mita, what’s the problem in our business with NX Company?

Mita: Yes, well at first extinguish the fire, then hide oneself beneath the desk.

Tamachi: Oh no. Just as I feared. I wonder if he’s all right.