Raise a glass, count your squid, say you’re full but watch your tone with ‘hai’

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Chotto, koko de ippai dō? (How about having a drink here?)

Situation 1: After work, Mr. Okubo leaves the office with a senior colleague. They stop at a beer garden.

先輩: 暑いなあ! ちょっと、ここで一杯どう?

大久保: 冷たいビールをくーっと一杯か。いいですね、入りましょう!

Senpai: Atsui nā! Chotto, koko de ippai dō?

Ōkubo: Tsumetai biiru o kū-tto ippai ka? Ii desu ne, hairimashō!

Senior colleague: Wow, it’s so hot! Hey, how about a drink here?

Okubo: Having a cold one? Sounds great. Let’s get inside!

Today, we will introduce some uses of the word 一杯 (いっぱい, one cup). 杯(はい) is the counter for a glass or cup of drink, and in ascending order, you count 一杯(いっぱい), 二杯(にはい), 三杯 (さんばい), 四杯(よんはい), etc. 乾杯 (かんぱい, literally, “Dry [your] glass”) means “Cheers” and is said before the first drink at a party. 一杯 is used adverbially as in: コーヒーをもう一杯いかがですか (Would you like another cup of coffee?). However, if the name of drink is not mentioned, usually the term refers to alcohol, as in 帰(かえ)りに一杯やりませんか (Why don’t we drop in at a pub on the way home?), which is used more often by older men, like Mr. Okubo’s senior in Situation 1. 杯 is also a counter for squids or octopuses, as in: 晩(ばん)ごはんにイカを一杯買(か)って帰ろう (I’ll buy a squid for dinner and go home). In all the examples above (except 乾杯), the pitch of いっぱい is high-(pause)-low-low.

Situation 2: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba go for a drive and try to park their car at a supermarket.

夫: あ、駐車場がいっぱいだ。

妻: 満車じゃ、しょうがないね。他のスーパーに行こう。

Otto: A, chūshajō ga ippai da.

Tsuma: Mansha ja, shōganai ne. Hoka no sūpā ni ikō.

Husband: Oh, the car park’s full.

Wife: If it’s full, there’s nothing we can do. Let’s head to another supermarket.

一杯 can also express that something (X) is full of something else (Y), in which case it is usually written in hiragana. Example: 講演 会(こうえんかい)は人(ひと)でいっぱいだった (The lecture was packed); その部屋(へや)は日(ひ)がいっぱいさし込(こ)んでいた (The room was bathed in sunlight). With this meaning, the pitch of いっぱい is low-(pause)-high-high. It sometimes attaches to a noun like a suffix to express that something is in the state of being full, i.e., 精一杯(せいいっぱい) (with all one’s might) (an exception that follows the Situation 1 tone pattern). More examples: おなかいっぱい食(た)べてくださいね (Please eat your fill); 時間いっぱい考(かんが)えたが、結局(けっきょく)答(こた)えは分(わ)からなかった (I thought it over for a long time but still couldn’t find the answer).

Bonus Dialogue: Mitsuo comes out of his room carrying a bunch of video games.

母: どうしたの、そんなにいっぱい荷物(にもつ)を抱(かか)えて?

光男: 古(ふる)いゲームソフトを古本屋(ふるほんや)に売(う)ろうかと思(おも)って…。

母: あら、めずらしい。「昔(むかし)のゲームのほうがむしろおもしろいから処分(しょぶん)できない」って言(い)っていたのに。

光男: もちろん、昔の名作(めいさく)は取(と)ってあるよ。これは、どうでもいい物(もの)ばかり。

母: ふうん、そんなにたくさんのどうでもいい物に、 お金(かね)と時間(じかん)をいっぱい使(つか)って きたわけね。

光男: このゲームたちは、幼(おさな)かったぼくを成長(せいちょう)させてくれたんだ。

母: これからは、高校生(こうこうせい)の光男(みつお)を、参考書(さんこうしょ)がいっぱい成長させてくれることを期待(きたい)していますよ。はい、これはお父(とう)さんからのプレゼント。[参考書を見(み)せる。]

光男: どうせプレゼントをくれるなら、新作(しんさく)のゲームソフトのほうがいいんだけどなあ…。

Mother: What are you up to, holding all that stuff?

Mitsuo: I thought I’d sell my old video games to a secondhand bookstore.

Mother: Oh, that’s unlike you. You told me, “Old games are rather more interesting and can’t be thrown away.”

Mitsuo: Of course, I keep old classics. These are kind of whatever.

Mother: I see, so you spent a lot of money and time on “whatever.”

Mitsuo: These games made the child in me grow up.

Mother: From now on, I hope that reference books will make the high-school you grow. Here’s a present from your dad. [Shows him a reference book.]

Mitsuo: If Dad wants to give me a present, I’d rather have a new video game.