130 - White's Whitish White Whiteness Continues

For the last four lessons (#126, #127, #128, & #129), Cassy has been teaching us all about using mega-formal Japanese.

Very useful stuff.

Meanwhile, I'm over here daydreaming about colors, which I talked about back in Lesson #125.

We saw how 黒(くろ) means "black" and is a noun.
Also, 黒い(くろい) means "black" and is an adjective.
And 黒さ(くろさ) means something like "(degree of) blackness."

There is but one variation left to explore: Colors (and other words) ending in み.

Generally speaking, adding ~み to a color is like adding the suffix -ish to it:

白み(しろみ // whitish
黒み(くろみ // blackish
青み(あおみ // bluish
赤み(あかみ // reddish

Easy stuff? Sadly, no.

For one thing, those are all nouns, so saying words like "whitish" and "reddish" is incorrect. We should actually say something like:

白み(しろみ // whitish tinge
黒み(くろみ // blackish tinge
青み(あおみ // bluish tinge
赤み(あかみ // reddish tinge

I've also seen them in dictionaries as "whitishness," reddishness," etc.

Adding to our troubles, the only ones that I've ever seen in the wild are 赤み and 青み. For example:

顔の赤みが気になる。
かお の あかみ が きになる。
I'm self-conscious about how my face gets red. // She worries about how her face gets red.
Literally: "face + の + reddish tinge + が + worried about."

You're quite unlikely to hear any colors except 青 and 赤 ending in み. Why? It's a mystery! If you do hear them, though, they will probably be with the verb 帯びた(おびた // to wear [e.g. a sword]; to carry; to have a trace of; to be tinged with) or the verb suffix ~がかる(inclining to; leaning to). Examples:

黒みを帯びた茶色。
くろみ を おびた ちゃいろ。
Blackish brown.
Literally: "blackish tinge + を + wore + brown."

白みがかった赤。
しろみがかった あか。
Whitish red.
Literally: "whitish tinge inclined + red."

茶色みがかった雲が見える。
ちゃいろみがかった くも が みえる。
You can see brownish clouds (over there).
Literally: "brownish tinge inclined + clouds + が + are visible."

Enough about colors, though. There is a different reason I want to talk about this suffix ~み.


If you look way back at Lesson #121, we talked about changing i-adjectives into nouns by deleting the final い and adding さ.

Well, we can do the same thing by adding み instead of さ. This is only common with a select handful of adjectives, though (including 青い and 赤い, which we saw above). Here are some prominent examples:

i-adjectives
暖かい (あたたかい // warm
甘い (あまい // sweet; naive
苦しい (くるしい // painful; difficult
悲しい (かなしい // sad
深い (ふかい // deep
弱い (よわい // weak
苦い (にがい // bitter
強い (つよい // strong

~み nouns
暖かみ (あたたかみ // warmth
甘み (あまみ // sweetness
苦しみ (くるしみ // pain; suffering
悲しみ (かなしみ // sadness; sorrow
深み (ふかみ // depth
弱み (つよみ // weakness
苦み (にがみ // bitterness
強み (つよみ // strength; forte

Now you might be wondering: What's the difference between making an i-adjectve into a noun with ~さ and making a noun with ~み?

Adding ~さ will give the newly formed noun a more analytical nuance, whereas adding ~み is more emotive. That's what the books tell me, at least. And I kind of get what they mean, but it's still hard to divide these two, as sometimes we will use the same English translation for both. Consider this:

強さ (つよさ // strength; power
強み (つよみ // strength; forte

Huh?

If you look in the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (p. 383-384), they'll say that the versions ending in ~さ are used to indicate something concrete. After reading this explanation six or seven times, I decided that (1) I don't get it, and (2) I'm not sure what they mean by "concrete."

Trying to explain this, though, I think I'm finally understanding it. First, examples:

脚の強さは腕の10倍だ。
あし の つよさ は うで の じゅう ばい だ。
Legs are 10 times stronger than arms.
Literally: "leg + の + strength + は + arm + の + 10 + times + is."

身長が高いのが私の強みだ。
しんちょう が たかい のが わたし の つよみ だ。
My strength is my height.
Literally: "height + が + tall + のが + I + の + strength + is."
Note: For example, if I'm a basketball player, then I could say this (though in reality I am neither tall nor a basketball player T_T).

If some dude picks up a car with one hand and holds it over his head, I can point at him and say, "Look at that strength!" This is 強さ, the "concrete strength." Similarly, if we're scientists measuring the strength of various species of shark's jaws, then that would also be 強さ, the "concrete strength."

But if I talk about how my "strength" is my strong work ethic, then I'm talking about a 強み.

Makes sense... I guess...

Another way to think of it might be this: If you can say "He has NOUN," then it would be ~み, NOT ~さ.

So if "He has strength," then "He has 強み."
And if "She has sorrow," then "She has 悲しみ."

Or we can use my favorite memorization technique: Osmosis. Just learn words one at a time in context. It'll all make sense eventually.


One fun example is using the adjective 面白い(おもしろい) which can mean anything from "interesting" to "fun" to "amusing." Anyways, 面白い is a good thing. The negative form would be 面白くない(おもしろくない), "NOT interesting." So you could say:

ニコの話面白くない。
ニコ の はなし おもしくない。
Niko's story isn't interesting. // The stuff Niko's saying is lame.
Literally: "Niko + の + story/talk + not interesting."

ニコの話面白みがない。
ニコ の はなし おもしろみ が ない。
Niko's story lacks anything of interest.
Literally: "Niko + の + story/talk + interest + が + does not have."

But, you CANNOT say this:

✕ ニコの話面白さがない。
✕ ニコ の はなし おもしろさ が ない。

What's the difference in nuance between those first two? I don't know, yo. They're pretty much the same. And you're much more likely to hear 面白くない than 面白みがない.


On yet another tangent, 楽しい(たのしい) means "fun; enjoyable," but 楽しみ(たのしみ) can mean "enjoyment" or, most commonly, "looking forward to." We use it like this:

明日楽しみ!
あした たのしみ!
I'm excited for tomorrow! // I can't wait for tomorrow!
Literally: "tomorrow + enjoyment / looking forward to!"

明日楽しみにしてるよ。
あした たのしみ に してる よ。
I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Literally: "tomorrow + enjoyment / looking forward to + に + am doing."

This second sentence can only be used if you're talking to a person that will be doing [fun thing] with you tomorrow. The first one can be used in a number of situations, even if the listener is not joining you tomorrow.

Is the word 楽しみ "concrete?"

I don't know. But I'm "looking forward to" the day I do know. ^_^

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