Language | WELL SAID

Don't sweat phrases that use the word 'ase'

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Mariko, mata sonna ni asedaku ni natte Mariko, you’re all sweaty again

Situation 1: Mariko comes back home, dripping with sweat.

まり子: ただいまー!

母: うわ、まり子、またそんなに汗だくになって…。まり子は汗っかきなんだから!すぐ着替えてきなさい。

Mariko: Tadaimaaaa!

Haha: Uwa, Mariko, mata sonna ni asedaku ni natte…. Mariko wa ase-kkaki nan dakara! Sugu kigaete-kinasai.

Mariko: I’m hoooome!

Mother: Yikes, Mariko, you’re all sweaty again …. (you) sweat so much! Go change your clothes real quick.

Summer is in full force and it’s the perfect time to introduce the word 汗 (あせ), which means “sweat,” and some expressions that are associated with it. When you want to say you are sweating, use the phrase 汗をかく, unless you’re not sweating too much, in which case you would use 汗ばむ:

汗ばむ陽気(ようき)になってきましたね。汗をかくのが嫌(いや)なので、今日(きょう)のランニングはやめます。 (That time of year when we start to sweat has arrived. Since I don’t want to get sweaty, I won’t go running today.)

People who sweat a lot (like Mariko in Situation 1) are referred to as 汗っかき, and if you’re dripping with sweat you should use the term 汗だく to describe the situation. あせも, which is used in the Bonus Dialogue, means “heat rash.”

Situation 2: Mariko is speaking with her grandfather.

祖父: 人間はね、汗水たらして働く人が偉いんだよ。

まり子: ふうん…。でも、まりはエアコンのない部屋で働くのはいや。

祖父: いや、まりちゃん、そういう意味じゃないよ。

Sofu: Ningen wa ne, asemizu tarashite hataraku hito ga erai-n-da yo!

Mariko: Fūn…. Demo, Mari wa eakon no nai heya de hataraku no wa iya.

Sofu: Iya, Mari-chan, sō iu imi ja nai yo.

Grandpa: As for humans, the greatest people are those who work by the sweat of their brow.

Mariko: Huh…. But, (I) would hate to work in a room with no air conditioning.

Grandpa: No, Mari dear, that’s not what I mean.

Grandpa’s 汗水(あせみず)たらして働(はたら)く is an idiom that means one works hard physically without paying concern to how hard it is. Other idiomatic expressions include 冷(ひ)や汗をかく, which means to break into a cold sweat: 会議 (かいぎ)で突然(とつぜん)指名(しめい)されて、冷や汗をかいた。 (I broke into a cold sweat when I was called on suddenly in the meeting.)

手(て)に汗握(にぎ)る literally means to grab sweat in one’s hands and is used to describe a thrilling game of sports: タイトル戦(せん)は、手に汗握る試合(しあい)だった。 (The title match was really exciting.)

Finally, 血(ち)と汗の結晶(けっしょう) literally means the crystal that emerges from one’s blood and sweat and is used to describe the fruits of one’s hard labor.

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Tamachi is talking with her colleague Ms. Gray about her parents’ home in the countryside.

田町(たまち): 田舎(いなか)の家(いえ)は広(ひろ)くて、居間(いま)にしかエアコンがないから、台所(だいどころ)仕事(しごと)が暑(あつ)くて暑くて、汗だくで食事(しょくじ)の支度(したく)をしていたの。

グレイ: ほんとだ。首(くび)のところに、あせもができてる。あ、腕(うで)にも。

田町: 腕は、蚊(か)に刺(さ)されたのよ。私(わたし)はやっぱり都会(とかい)がいい。

グレイ: 私は田舎が好(す)き。去年(きょねん)、浴衣(ゆかた)を着(き)て盆踊(ぼんおど)りしている写真(しゃしん)を見(み)せてくれたけど、今年(ことし)は?

田町: 今年は特(とく)に暑くて、汗だくになって踊りたくなかったから、一日(いちにち)早(はや)く戻(もど)って来(き)ちゃった。

グレイ: もったいない!代(か)わってあげたかった!

田町: ほんと?じゃあ、来年(らいねん)の夏休(なつやす)みは、私の代わりに田舎に帰(かえ)ってよ。

グレイ: え、そんなこと言(い)わないで、来年は私もつれて帰省(きせい)して!

田町: ああ、それはおもしろそうね。じゃあ、来年を楽(たの)しみに!

Tamachi: My parents’ home in the country only has air conditioning in the living room, so doing work in the kitchen is really hot, we got all sweaty while cooking there.

Gray: Really. You’ve got heat rash on your neck. Oh, on your arm, too.

Tamachi: My arm was stabbed (bitten) by mosquitoes. As I thought, the city is better.

Gray: I like the countryside. Last year, you showed me some pictures in which you were doing a Bon dance wearing a yukata. How about this year?

Tamachi: It’s so hot this year and I didn’t want to be all sweaty while dancing, so I came back a day early.

Gray: That’s a shame! I’d have changed places with you!

Tamachi: Really? Then next summer vacation, please go back to my parents’ house instead of me.

Gray: Don’t say that, next year take me there with you!

Tamachi: Oh, that sounds like fun. Well, let’s look forward to next year!

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