U, mazui! (Whoa, this tastes terrible!)

Situation 1: Mrs. Shiba serves dinner for her husband, who grimaces after taking a bite.

夫: ねえ…、ちょっと、これ、食べてみて。

妻: はい。…ウッ、まずい! あらー、何か間違えたのかなあ。

Otto: Nē…, chotto, kore, tabete-mite.

Tsuma: Hai. …U, mazui! Arā, nanika machigaeta-no-ka-nā.

Husband: Honey, can you try this.

Wife: Okay. …Whoa, this tastes terrible! Hmm, maybe I made a mistake?

Last week we introduced the colloquial adjective うまい (good). Today we introduce various meanings and usages of its antonym まずい (bad). In Situation 1, the wife’s まずい means something tastes bad. More examples in this meaning: いやな話(はなし)を聞(き)かされて、うまい酒(さけ)もまずくなってしまった (Since he told me a nasty story, I couldn’t enjoy the good taste of sake that was served there). イギリスの料理(りょうり)はまずいと言(い)われていますが、ほんとうにそうなのでしょうか (It is generally said that English dishes taste bad, but is that true?).

Situation 2: Section Chief Okubo invites Ms. Gray to his desk.

グレイ: 課長、お呼びですか。

大久保: ちょっと、まずいことになった。ABC商事が、とつぜん注文をキャンセルしてきたんだ。

Gray: Kachō, o-yobi-desu-ka.

Okubo: Chotto, mazui koto-ni natta. ABC-Shōji-ga, totsuzen chūmon-wo kyanseru-shite-kita-n-da.

Gray: Yes boss, did you call for me?

Okubo: We’re in a fine kettle of fish: ABC-Commercials suddenly canceled their order.

まずい also means inconvenient, awkward, untimely or unwise, as Mr. Okubo uses it in Situation 2. Other examples: あの男(おとこ)も、まずいことをやったもんだ (What a nice blunder he’s made!). 彼(かれ)は、まずいときに現(あらわ)れた (His showing up was really bad timing). それは、まずいやりかただと思(おも)うよ (I’m afraid that’s a bad way of doing things). まずい attaches to the noun 気(き)(mood/atmosphere/feelings) and makes the compound adjective 気まずい that expresses the feeling or condition that the relationship between the people gets strained, awkward, soured or uncomfortable, as in: お金(かね)の問題(もんだい)が友人(ゆうじん)との関係(かんけい)を気まずくしてしまうことは、よくある (Money problems can often make friendships awkward). 親友(しんゆう)の彼女(かのじょ)と付(つ)き合(あ)うことになって、彼(かれ)と気まずくなった (I began to go out with my best friend’s girlfriend, that made me feel bad).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Mita and Mr. Sere are chatting in izakaya, a Japanese-style pub.

セレ: 最近(さいきん)、ぼくの人生(じんせい)で一番(いちばん)まずい飲(の)み物(もの)に出会(であ)ったよ。

三田: へえ。何(なに)?

セレ: ノニジュース。

三田: ああ、ぼくも健康(けんこう)にいいってすすめられて飲(の)んでみたけど、あれは無理(むり)だな。

セレ: ぼくは、それを飲まないとまずい状況(じょうきょう)にあるんだ。ゆりに「血圧(けつあつ)が高(たか)い」って言(い)ったら、彼女(かのじょ)、たくさん買(か)ってきて…。

三田: 飲みたくないって言えば?

セレ: それでゆりと気まずくなったら、いやだよ。ゆりは、「私(わたし)を愛(あい)しているなら、ぜったい飲んで」って言っているんだから。

三田: 飲んだふりをして、すてちゃえば?

セレ: それは、まずいよ。ぼくは、そんなことはできない。ノニジュースをおいしくする技術(ぎじゅつ)がはやく進(すす)んでほしいよ。

三田: まあ、あと30年(ねん)も待(ま)てばね。

Sere: Recently, I drank the most horrible drink I’ve ever tasted.

Mita: My goodness! What was it?

Sere: Noni juice.

Mita: Oh, I tried that after someone recommended it to me, saying that it’s good for your health. But it was awful.

Sere: But, I’m in the situation where I have to drink it; I told Yuri that my blood pressure was high, so she bought a pile of bottles of the stuff for me.

Mita: Why don’t you tell her that you don’t want to drink it?

Sere: I don’t want the relationship between us two to grow awkward, since she said, “If you love me, be sure to drink it, please.”

Mita: You should pretend you drank it and throw it away.

Sere: That’s no good. I can’t do a thing like that. I hope that the technology to make noni juice taste good will progress as soon as possible.

Mita: Surely it will, if you wait for 30 more years.

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