Language | WELL SAID

Tell people your hopes and wishes using 'kana'

The structures "kana(a)" and "tara donna ni ii ka" are wonderful for wishing

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing writers

Hayaku natsu ni naranai kanā.

(I wish it would be summer soon.)

 

Situation 1: Takako is speaking with her mother.

たか子:早く夏にならないかなあ。

母:え、ちょっと早いんじゃない?まだ五月よ。

Takako: Hayaku natsu ni naranai kanā.

Haha: E, chotto hayai-n ja nai? Mada go-gatsu yo.

Takako: I wish it would be summer soon.

Mom: Huh? Isn’t it a bit early? It’s still May.

 

The structures Xかな(あ) and Xたらどんなにいいか express a hope or wish. Xかな(あ) means “one hopes X” or “one wishes X,” and appears in casual conversation in the form of a rhetorical statement:

明日(あした)晴(は)れないかなあ。

(I hope it’ll be sunny tomorrow.)

Literally, this sentence reads something like, “Tomorrow, won’t it be clear, I hope.” Though “X” is a verb in the negative nai-form, the sentence is an affirmative statement.

課長(かちょう)の話(はなし)が早(はや)く終(お)わらないかな。

(I hope our section chief’s speech will end soon.)

In the Xかな(あ) pattern, “X” can also be a verb in potential form:

あの大学(だいがく)に入(はい)れないかなあ。

(I wish I could enter that university.)

When “X” is a verb in potential form, it can be combined with ようにならないかな(あ) to mean “one hopes they will become able to X”:

彼女(かのじょ)みたいに何カ国語(なんかこくご)も話(はな)せるようにならないかな。

(I wish I could become able to speak multiple languages like her.)

When the speaker wishes another person would do something for them, “Xてくれないかな(あ)” is commonly used:

うちの店(みせ)にお客(きゃく)さんがたくさん来(き)てくれないかな。

(I wish a lot of customers would come to our shop.)

 

Situation 2: Mr. Mita and his colleague, Mr. Sere, are chatting online.

三田:新型コロナウイルスのせいで、何をするにも心配だね。

セレ:ああ、流行が収束したらどんなにいいか。

Mita: Shingata koronauirusu no sei de, nani o suru nimo shinpai da ne.

Sere: Ā, ryūkō ga shūsoku shitara donna ni ii ka.

Mita: The novel coronavirus makes you worry whatever you do, huh?

Sere: Ah, how I wish the epidemic would come to a resolution.

The structure Xたらどんなにいいか, in which “X” is a verb in its tara-form, carries the nuance that the speaker strongly hopes or wishes “X” will be realized:

あのコンサートの切符(きっぷ)が取(と)れたらどんなにいいか。

(How I wish I could get tickets for that concert)

彼(かれ)が振(ふ)り向(む)いてくれたらどんなにいいか。

(How wonderful would it be if he just turned around and came back to me.)

 

Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 2.

三田(みた):誰(だれ)か新型(しんがた)コロナウイルスに効(き)く薬(くすり)を開発(かいはつ)してくれないかな。

セレ:それには時間(じかん)がかなりかかるらしいよ。それよりは、今(いま)ある薬で、効きそうなものを使(つか)うのが先(さき)だよ。あとは、ワクチンだ。早く開発されないかなあ。

三田:そうか。まだまだ先が長(なが)いなあ。本当(ほんとう)に世界(せかい)がすっかり変(か)わってしまいそうだね。オリンピックも延期(えんき)になっちゃったし。

セレ:ああ、社会(しゃかい)が元(もと)に戻(もど)ったら、どんなにいいか。でも、なかなかそうはいかないよね。

三田:経済(けいざい)も大(おお)きな打撃(だげき)を受(う)けているから、将来(しょうらい)がわからなくて不安(ふあん)だな。

セレ:うん。仕事(しごと)もリモートワークになっていて、三田君(みたくん)と喋(しゃべ)るのもオンラインだしね。

三田:うん、こういう深刻(しんこく)な状態(じょうたい)だと、なかなか冗談(じょうだん)も言(い)えないよ。

セレ:でも、こういう時(とき)こそ、三田君のような脳天気(のうてんき)な人が必要(ひつよう)だよ。

三田:そうか。頑張(がんば)らなくちゃね。

Mita: How I wish someone would develop a medicine effective against the novel coronavirus.

Sere: I’ve heard that that takes quite a lot of time. More importantly, we should use existing medicines that are likely to work first. Other than that, a vaccine. I hope it will be developed soon.

Mita: Yeah. There really is a long way to go. Honestly, the world has totally changed. The Olympics have even been postponed.

Sere: Ah, how great would it be if society could just go back to how it was before. But, that’s not the case.

Mita: The economy has taken a big hit so I’m anxious because I don’t know the future.

Sere: Yeah. [Our] jobs are done through remote work, and I have to speak with you online too, Mita.

Mita: Yeah, it’s hard to make jokes in such a life-threatening situation.

Sere: But it’s in times like these that I need a person with a happy-go-lucky character like yours, Mita.

Mita: Is that so? We’ll just have to do our best.

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