Introducing the term ‘shikkari’

by and

Special To The Japan Times

Kono tatemono-wa furui-desu-kedo, shikkari tsukurarete-iru sō-desu-ne. (This building is old, but I’ve heard it was built to be sturdy.)

Situation 1: Mr. Tian and his client Mr. Suzuki are having lunch in an old building.

ティエン: この建物は古いですけど、しっかり作られている そうですね。

鈴木: ええ、震度6の地震でも何ともなかったそうですよ。

Tian: Kono tatemono-wa furui-desu-kedo, shikkari tsukurarete-iru sō-desu-ne.

Suzuki: Ee, shindo roku-no jishin-demo nantomo nakatta-sō-desu-yo.

Tian: This building is old, but I’ve heard it was built to be sturdy.

Suzuki: Yes, apparently it withstood a level-6 earthquake (on the Japanese scale).

Today we’ll introduce the term しっかり, which expresses strength and stability, and shows when something is done firmly, as in Mr. Tian’s remark above. In this context, しっかりと can also be used. Example: このはしごをしっかり押(お)さえていてよ (Hold on to this ladder firmly). しっかり is also used for things, characters or attitudes in the form of a する verb, as in しっかりする (to become steady and reliable) and しっかりしている (to be reliable and steady). Example: 祖父(そふ)は90歳(きゅうじゅっさい)になるが、とてもしっかりしていて、まだ自分(じぶん)の店(みせ)で仕事(しごと) をしている (My grandfather is 90 years old but he’s in excellent shape and still works in his shop). When しっかり modifies a noun, しっかりした is used, as in 愛子(あいこ)は中学生(ちゅうがくせい)だが、しっかりした意見(いけん)を持(も)っている (Aiko is a junior-high student, but she has sound opinions).

Situation 2: Mr. Mita asks his colleague Ms. Gray about the scheduled date of their visit to a client.

三田: SU社に行くの、あさってだっけ?

グレイ: いやだ、あしたよ。しっかりして。

Mita: SU-sha-ni iku-no, asatte-dakke?

Gurei: Iya-da, ashita-yo. Shikkari-shite.

Mita: We’re visiting SU Co. the day after tomorrow, right?

Gray: No, tomorrow. Get with it!

しっかり is also used to express when something is done firmly, steadily and seriously. It can be used to encourage or reprove someone, as in Ms. Gray’s remark. Another example: 留学(りゅうがく)したら、しっかりがんばってね (Do your best while studying abroad). しっかり also applies when doing something completely and thoroughly, as in 子(こ)どもはしっかり食(た)べてしっかり寝(ね)ることが大切(たいせつ)だ (Kids need to eat and sleep properly).

Bonus Dialogue: Mrs. Okubo is chatting with her niece Shizuka, who’s single.

大久保: 最近(さいきん)の若(わか)い人(ひと)は、貯金(ちょ きん)している人が多(おお)いんですって?

しずか: 将来(しょうらい)が不安(ふあん)なんです。だから、しっかり貯(た)めておかないと。結婚(けっこん)して子(こ)どもが生(う)まれたら、しっかりした教育 (きょういく)を受(う)けさせたいし、老後(ろうご)も年金(ねんきん)がほとんどもらえないし。

大久保: そうね。でも、私(わたし)が若いころはそんなに考(かんが)えなかったなあ。

しずか: しっかりした会社(かいしゃ)に勤(つと)めている人と結婚しても、リストラされることもあるでしょう? あと、離婚(りこん)しても、生(い)きていけるように。

大久保: そこまで考(かんが)えているの! 洋服(ようふく) とか、ほしくない?

しずか: あまりものをふやしたくないんです。ただ、大地震(おおじしん)が来(き)ても壊(こわ)れないような しっかりした家(いえ)には住(す)みたいけど。

大久保: ふうん、大変(たいへん)だ。国(くに)にはしっかり 対策(たいさく)をしてもらわないと。

Okubo: I hear many young people nowadays save money.

Shizuka: We’re worried about our future. So we have to save seriously. If I get married and have children, I want to be able to give them a decent education. And we’ll get very little pension money when we’re old.

Okubo: I see. But I never thought about those things when I was young.

Shizuka: Even if I marry a man who works for an established company, he might get fired. And I need to be able to survive even if I get divorced.

Okubo: You’re thinking so far ahead! Don’t you want clothes or something?

Shizuka: I don’t want to live with more things in my house. But I do want to live in a sturdy house that won’t collapse when a big earthquake strikes.

Okubo: Hmm, the future of Japan will be tough. I want our government to take some tough measures.