Untranslatable expressions!

Learning a foreign language can be a really interesting experience. Sometimes one comes across phrases that do not exist in the mother tongue. Finding phrases like this can expand your mind and can really give you insight into the native culture of that language. The Japanese language and culture are very different from English, so they have many such phrases. Today I want to talk about the word “nori”. Imagine the situation:

1. You are joking, but your friends or the listener did not laugh with you. You might think, “Where’s the sense of humor? You ruin my happy mood.”

2. You are a rock singer and you had a concert, but the audience is disinterested and without enthusiasm.

Have you ever had such an experience? In this situation, the speaker will say to the listener: nori ga ii (“nori” is good) How about the opposite case?

1. You are joking and your friends or the listener are laughing with you. You will feel “sweet. He has a sense of humor.”

2. You are a rock singer and you had a concert. The audience is really interested in your show; are hanging on each of your notes.

In this situation, the speaker will say to the listener: nori ga warui (“nori” is bad)

I think nori is like a feeling, mood, motivation of someone that makes an environment good or bad. If used in a positive sentence, it indicates a feeling of enthusiasm. If used in a negative sentence, it means that the speaker is telling the listener that they do not have an enthusiastic feeling or motivation to do anything.

If you are a person who is easily influenced by some mood or activity and you join them, then you are nori ga ii. If not, you are nori ga warui.

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