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Chotto minai aida-ni zuibun ōkiku-natta-ne (You’ve really grown since I last saw you)

Situation 1: Aunt Fumiko, who lives in the U.S, visits Mr. and Mrs. Okubo’s house. Little Mariko greets her.

まり子: おばちゃん、こんにちは。

ふみ子: まあ、まり子ちゃん、久しぶり。ちょっと見ない間に ずいぶん大きくなったね。

Mariko: Obachan, konnichiwa.

Fumiko: Maa, Mariko-chan, hisashiburi. Chotto minai aida-ni zuibun ōkiku-natta-ne.

Mariko: Hello, Auntie!

Fumiko: Oh, it’s been a long time, Mariko! You’ve really grown since I last saw you.

Today we will introduce some uses of the adverb ずいぶん, which means “very,” “extremely,” “awfully” or “certainly,” and is used when the speaker wants to express that the degree of something is higher than they were expecting. ずいぶん is a subjective expression, and it conveys the speaker’s surprise or deep emotion.

Examples: この荷物(にもつ)はずいぶん重(おも)いですね。 (This luggage is extremely heavy, isn’t it?); この説明会(せつめいかい)にはずいぶん遠(とお)くから参加(さんか)した人(ひと)もいる。 (Some participants came from quite far away to attend this briefing session.); 彼(かれ)の家(いえ)に行(い)ったら、ずいぶん 大(おお)きくて、びっくりした。(When I went to his house, I was surprised by just how big it was.).

ずいぶん is not used in objective expressions. A sentence such as 彼(かれ)はずいぶん便利(べんり)なところに住(す)みたがっている (He wants to live in a convenient place) would be unnatural. A particle such as ね, which shares information between the speaker and the listener, or よ, which indicates an exclamation, often attaches to the end of sentences with ずいぶん, as with Fumiko’s remark.

Situation 2: Mr. Mita and his colleague Mr. Sere are chatting about a Japanese restaurant.

三田: 学生だったころ、日本料理の店に入ろうとしたら、 「うちは高いよ」って言われたんだよ。

セレ: へえ、それってずいぶんな言い方だね。

Mita: Gakusei-datta-koro, Nihon-ryōri-no mise-ni hairō-to shitara, “Uchi-wa takai-yo”-tte iwareta-n-da.

Sere: Hee, sore-tte zuibun-na iikata-da-ne.

Mita: When I was a university student, as I went to walk into a Japanese restaurant, one of the staff said to me, “You should know, this place is expensive.”

Sere: What!? That’s a terrible thing to say!

ずいぶん is sometimes used as a na-adjective, to show the state or feeling of something being inconsiderate, roughly translatable as “terrible” or “horrid.” ずいぶん in this form is mainly used in speech rather than written language, to emphasize a negative feeling. Example: ぶつかったのにあやまらないなんて、 ずいぶんだね。(It’s awful when a person bumps into you but doesn’t apologize.)

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Mita and his colleague Mr. Sere are chatting about a client.

三田: DM社(しゃ)の社長(しゃちょう)が来(き)てたんだけど、ずいぶん若(わか)い人(ひと)なんで、びっくりしちゃった。

セレ: IT企業(きぎょう)は若い人が多(おお)いよね。

三田: ずいぶんもうかっているところもあるみたいだよ。IT企業に勤(つと)めている友(とも)だちがいるんだけど、高級(こうきゅう)マンションを持(も)っているんだ。

セレ: そうだね。でも、ああいう会社(かいしゃ)も数年後(すうねんご)にどうなっているかはわからないよ。ちょっと前(まえ)に有名(ゆうめい)だったところが、今(いま)は経営危機(けいえいきき)になっていたりして。

三田: ずいぶん変(か)わるもんだね。それに比(くら)べるとぼくたちなんか、給料は低(ひく)くてもまだ安定(あんてい)しているかな。

セレ: いやいや、今は、どの会社(かいしゃ)も安心(あんしん)していられないよ。

三田: あーあ、ずいぶんきびしい時代(じだい)だなあ。

Mita: The president of DM company was here, and I was surprised at how very young he was.

Sere: There are lots of young people in IT firms.

Mita: I heard that some of them are bringing in huge profits. A friend of mine who works in an IT firm has an expensive condo.

Sere: Sure, but who knows what might happen to these places a few years down the line. Some firms that were famous just a few years ago are in a state of crisis now.

Mita: Things can change a lot. Compared to that, our company is still stable, although our salaries are low.

Sere: No, not at all! Nowadays, none of us, in any company, can afford to be complacent.

Mita: Aah, we’re living in hard times!

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