A certain ratio: the relative strengths of wariai, wari to and wari ni

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Wari-to kantan-datta. (It was relatively easy.)

Situation 1: As Mitsuo gets home from school, his mother corners him.

母: 期末試験、どうだった?

光男:  割と簡単だったよ。

Haha: Kimatsu-shiken, dō-datta?

Mitsuo: Wari-to kantan-datta-yo.

Mother: How was the end-of-term exam?

Mitsuo: It was relatively easy.

Today we will introduce the meaning and adverbial uses of the noun 割合 (わりあい, ratio). 割合 is the noun and can be used as here: このクラスの男子(だんし)と女子(じょし)の割合は、2対 (たい)1です (The ratio of boys to girls in this class is 2 to 1). But 割合 is often used adverbially, to mean “relatively” or “comparatively,” as in: 今日(きょう)は、みんな、割合早(はや)く出勤(しゅっきん)した (Today, most of us came to the office relatively early). 割(わり)に and 割と are its more casual or colloquial forms, seen in Mitsuo’s reply in Situation 1, or as in the following example: 割と小(ちい) さな町(まち)だから、住(す)みやすいと思(おも)いますよ (Since this is a comparatively small town, I think it’s comfortable to live here).

Situation 2: Mrs. Shiba takes feverish baby Jun to the doctor.

芝:  熱があって、せきも出るんです。

医者:  でも、熱が高い割に元気ですから、心配ありませんよ。

Shiba: Netsu-ga atte, seki-mo deru-n-desu.

Isha: Demo, netsu-ga takai wari-ni genki-desu-kara, shinpai arimasen-yo.

Shiba: He has a fever and he’s coughing.

Doctor: But he looks well despite having a temperature, so you shouldn’t worry too much.

The pattern X(noun-modifier)割にY expresses that Y occurs/is the case for/despite/considering X, as in: この荷物(にもつ)は、大(おお) きさの割に軽(かる)い (This baggage is light for its size). In this example, X is the noun plus の, which sounds somewhat formal, but noun-modifying phrases can be as simple as just X. For example, the above sentence can be changed to この荷物は大きい割に軽い, which is more colloquial. More examples: うちの子(こ)は、いつも まじめに勉強(べんきょう)している割にテストの点(てん)は良(よ)くない (Though my son always studies hard, he doesn’t get good marks in his exams); ダイエットで体重(たいじゅう)が減(へ)った割には、 ウエストが全然(ぜんぜん)細(ほそ)くならない (Despite having lost a lot of weight, my waist size hasn’t dropped at all). In this pattern, the particle は has been added to the particle に for emphasis.

Bonus Dialogue: Department head Yamani asks section chief Okubo about today’s negotiations with the UK Trading company.

ヤマニ: UK商事(しょうじ)との交渉(こうしょう)は、どうでしたか。

大久保: グレイさんを行(い)かせたのですが、話(はなし)も割合 短(みじか)くすんだようで、こちらの条件(じょうけん)もほぼ通(とお)りました。

ヤマニ: それは、よかった。この人選(じんせん)の理由(りゆう)は?

大久保: グレイさんは、若(わか)い割(わり)にしっかりしていますし、日英(にちえい)のバイリンガルですから、適任(てきにん)だと思(おも)いまして。

ヤマニ: そうですね。ただ、今回(こんかい)は幸(さいわ)い成功(せいこう)しましたが、今後(こんご)は若い者(もの)だけでなく、大久保(おおくぼ)課長(かちょう)のようなベテランが一緒(いっしょ)に行くほうがいいかもしれません。

大久保: あ、はい、すみません。今日(きょう)は、他(ほか)の用(よう)があったものですから…。今後気(き)をつけます。

ヤマニ: とにかく交渉が成立(せいりつ)して、よかった。UK商事は、イギリスの老舗(しにせ)の割に上層部(じょうそうぶ)の頭(あたま)が固(かた)くないので、いい関係(かんけい)が築(きず)けると思(おも)いますよ。

大久保: はい、新(あたら)しい展開(てんかい)が楽(たの)しみです。

Yamani: How did the negotiations go with UK Trading?

Okubo: I let Ms. Gray attend, and the meeting seemed to be over in a relatively short time, and most of the terms we had suggested got through.

Yamani: That’s good. So why did you choose Ms. Gray?

Okubo: She’s young yet reliable, and bilingual in Japanese and English, so I thought she was best-suited to the job.

Yamani: I see. Anyway, it was fortunate that this time it was a success. However, next time, it might be better if, rather than just sending a young person, an experienced person like yourself also accompanies them.

Okubo: Oh, I’m sorry, but I had another job to do today. I’ll bear that in mind next time.

Yamani: Anyway, I’m happy that the negotiations were a success. The executives at UK Trading are not stuck in their ways despite their being a long-established company, so I hope that we can develop a good relationship with them.

Okubo: Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress.