Language | WELL SAID

Use 'ijō' to go beyond the usual boundaries in Japanese

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Saikō kion ga nijūgo-do ijō no hi no koto desu. (About a day when the maximum temperature reaches 25 degrees Celsius or more.)

Situation 1: Takako is at home watching TV when the weather forecast comes on.

たか子: お父さん、「夏日」って、何のこと?

父: 最高気温が25度以上の日のことだよ。最低気温が 0度未満だと、「冬日」って言うんだ。

Takako: O-tōsan, “natsubi”-tte, nan-no koto?

Chichi: Saikō kion ga nijūgo-do ijō no hi no koto da yo. Saitei kion ga rei-do miman da to, “fuyubi”-tte iu-n-da.

Takako: Dad, what is meant by “summer day”?

Father: It’s about a day when the maximum temperature reaches 25 degrees Celsius or more. If the minimum temperature is less than 0 degrees, it’s called a “winter day.”

The noun 以上(いじょう) is used to mean “over” or “more than.” In the pattern “X以上,” X is often a number: 25度(にじゅうごど, 25 degrees Celsius), 三人(さんにん, three people), 50歳(ごじゅっさい, 50 years old), etc. It’s also important to note that X is included in the range 以上 covers, so in Situation 1 Takako’s father means to include 25 C in the definition of a summer’s day.

If the speaker doesn’t want to include the figure of X in their value range, they can use the expression Xを超(こ)える. The word 超える generally means “to exceed”:

最近(さいきん)は25度を超える日(ひ)も少(すく)なくない。(Recently, there have been quite a few days that have exceeded 25 C.)

The opposites of X以上 are X以下(いか), which means “X and under,” and X未満(みまん) which means “less than X.”

Situation 2: Ms. Gray looks very busy at the office. Her colleague Mr. Mita is worried about her.

三田: グレイさん、大変そうだね。少し手伝おうか?

グレイ: ありがとう。でも、いったん引き受けた以上、人に頼るわけにはいかないの。

Mita: Gurei-san, taihen-sō da ne. Sukoshi tetsudaō ka?

Gurei: Arigatō. Demo, ittan hikiuketa ijō, hito ni tayoru wake ni wa ikanai no.

Mita: Ms. Gray, that looks tough. Shall I help you a bit?

Gray: Thank you. However, once I take something on, I just can’t rely on other people (to help).

The pattern “X以上, Y” reflects the idea that “because X happened, Y,” where Y expresses the resolve to take responsibility for a duty that accompanies X. In Situation 2, Ms. Gray has expressed her resolve to complete her task by herself because she was the one who accepted it. In the example sentence below, the pattern is used because the subject has taken on the duties of being a writer:

雑誌(ざっし)に何(なに)か書(か)いている以上、作家(さっか)と呼 (よ)んでも問題(もんだい)ないでしょう。(Because he is writing for a magazine, it’s no problem to call him a writer.)

One more usage, 以上です is often used to conclude a formal announcement.

Bonus Dialogue: A meeting is underway at the office.

大久保 (おおくぼ): 古川社(ふるかわしゃ)とのプロジェクトの進捗(しんちょく)状況(じょうきょう)についてご報告(ほうこく)させていただきます。

ヤマニ: ずいぶん難航(なんこう)していると聞(き)きましたが。

大久保: はい。まず利益(りえき)配分(はいぶん)ですが、古川(ふるかわ)は、五分五分(ごぶごぶ)ではなく6割(ろくわり)以上を求(もと)めています。

上野(うえの): それは、ずいぶんではないですか?むしろ、こちらが6割欲(ほ)しいくらいだ。

大久保: はい、資金(しきん)投与(とうよ)も、わが社(しゃ)がほとんど負担(ふたん)していますし…。ただ、古川は100年(ひゃくねん)以上も伝統(でんとう)を守(まも)り続(つづ)けたブランドがありますから…。

上野: プライドばかり高(たか)いのも考(かんが)えものだ。こうなった以上、提携(ていけい)は考えなおしたほうがいいのでは?

ヤマニ: しかし、古川には、伝統やプライドばかりでなく、古(ふる)くから続いている確(たし)かな技術(ぎじゅつ)があります。古川を切(き)ったら、いい製品(せいひん)は作(つく)れません。大久保さん、ご苦労(くろう)ですが、もう一(ひと)がんばりしてくださいね。以上で会議(かいぎ)を終(お)わります。

Okubo: I would like to report on the state of progress of the project with the Furukawa Company.

Yumani: I’ve heard that it’s been extremely rough going.

Okubo: Yes. First of all, with the distribution of profits, Furukawa wants more than 60 percent, not the 50-50 (we suggested).

Ueno: That’s too much, isn’t it? Instead, we should be the ones taking 60 percent.

Okubo: Yes, our company also has to bear the cost of the injection of funds…. However, since Furukawa has a brand with a tradition that is more than 100 years old….

Ueno: If it’s only about their (high) pride, that should be changed. As is the case, wouldn’t it be better to reconsider our partnership?

Yamani: However, Furukawa doesn’t just have tradition and pride but also established technology that has kept them going for a long time. If we cut (ties with) Furukawa, we can’t create good products. Mr. Okubo, it is hard work but please continue your efforts. Let’s bring this meeting to a close.

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