147 - I think my finger's broken.

↑ Rei said this to me the other day.

We were packing up our stuff, moving out of our apartment in Tokyo, and she jammed her finger in a door or something (I forget).

After a brief inspection of the wound, she said:

ほね おれた かも。
I think it's broken. // It might be broken.
Literally: "bone + broke + may / might."

I then went to ask her the same thing my mom used to ask me each of the 28,000 times I assured her I'd broken my finger as a child.

Can you bend it?

Only... I don't know how to say "Can you bend your finger?" in Japanese.

Words like "bend" and "turn" and "fold" don't match up too well with Japanese (and I'll probably need to write a lesson about this in the future).

So instead, I just bent and stretched my fingers repeatedly and said:

これ できる?
Can you do this?
Literally: "this + can do?"

Behold, the power of paraphrasing.

But what if I were a native-level speaker of Japanese? How, then, would I say, "Can you bend your fingers?" Well, that would be...

グー パー できる?
Can you bend your fingers?
Semi-Literally: "Can you do rock-paper?"
Literally: "rock + paper + can do?"
Note: During じゃんけん (rock-paper-scissors [the game]), グー is what you say when making the "rock" sign, パー is what you say when making the "paper" sign, and チョキ is what you say when making the "scissors" sign. So instead of saying, "Can you bend your fingers?" instead we're saying "Can you do rock-paper?"

Yeah, of course I didn't know how to say that!

Luckily, we determined that Rei's finger was not broken, because she responded saying:

I can.

...which, by the way, is a valid answer for both of those questions above.

Come to think of it, though, I think she said something like this:

できる けど いたい。
I can, but it hurts.
Literally: "can do + but + painful."

Anyways, her finger is all better now. No broken bones.

But since we're on the topic already, let's look at some other injury-related language...

けが しちゃった。
I hurt myself. // I was [got] hurt.
Literally: "injury + did."
Note: した ("did") becomes しちゃった, which is an abbreviation of してしまった, which just adds the nuance that this "did" was not desired or intentional.

いたっ、 ゆび きった。
Ow! I cut my finger.
Literally: "ouch / painful + finger + cut."
Note: 痛い(いたい) is emphasized by cutting off that final い, giving us 痛っ(いたっ).

きゅうきゅうしゃ よんで!
Call an ambulance!
Literally: "ambulance + call!"

ころんで あし くじちゃった。
I fell and twisted my ankle!
Literally: "fall down and + foot + twisted / broke / sprained."
Note: Thanks to my backstabbing dictionary, I always thought that to くじく your ankle meant "to sprain" your ankle... until I found out that an ankle can, in some cases, heal ten minutes after a くじく. So that's why I put "twisted" in the translation.

While I do want to write useful lessons, I must admit that I hope you never need to use any of this language.

Let's keep our bones unbroken and our ankles untwisted.