Friday, July 21, 2017

genki 元気

In Japanese, genki 元気 means "lively," "full of energy," "healthy," "fine," and so on. It's a word that's used in two ways: to ask if someone is doing fine, physically, or to tell someone to stop being gloomy and get motivated.

How Are You Doing?

The most common way genki is used is to ask people if they're genki or not. This is often done as a casual greeting, specially toward someone you haven't seen for some time. In other words, genki means "how are you doing?" in Japanese. A few examples:
  • hisashiburi. genki desu ka?
    久しぶり。元気ですか?
    Long time. Is genki?
    Long time no see. How are you doing?
  • minna genki desu ka?
    みんな元気ですか?
    Is everybody genki?
    Are you all doing fine?

There are various variations of the phrase above. For example, the phrases below all translate to English the same way: "is genki?" Which means "Are [you] genki?" "Are you lively?" "How are you doing? Are you doing fine?"
  • genki?
    元気?
    (bare question.)
  • genki ka?
    元気か?
    (with ka particle.)
  • genki kai?
    元気かい?
    (with kai particle.)
  • genki desu ka?
    元気ですか?
    (with copula plus ka.)
  • o-genki desu ka?
    お元気ですか?
    (with o お polite prefix.)
  • o-genki de irasshaimasu ka?
    お元気でいらっしゃいますか?
    (with sonkeigo 尊敬語, "honorific speech.")
  • genki nano?
    元気なの?
    (with na no compound.)

Similarly, there are various ways to answer this.
  • hai はい
    ee ええ
    aa ああ
    un うん
    Yes.
  • genki desu
    元気です
    [I'm] genki.
  • watashi wa genki desu yo
    私は元気ですよ
    I'm genki!

元気で何より

Sometimes, after saying whether someone is genki, the following phrase is uttered:
  • genki de nani yori
    元気で何より
  • o-genki de nani yori
    お元気で何より

This phrase means "there's nothing more important than being genki." In other words, "there's nothing more important than being healthy, being well."

As for why it means that, it's important to note that the phrase is incomplete: it's missing a verb or adjective.
  • XでYよりZ
    With X, rather than Y, Z.
    X, unlike Y, fits Z.
    X is more Z than Y.
  • 元気で何よりZ
    genki is more Z than nani.
    genki is more "important" than nani.
    genki is more "valuable" than nani.

Generally, nani 何 means "what," but interrogative pronouns in Japanese simply refer to stuff that can't be specified. So nani means both "what thing" and "any thing" depends on context.
  • genki is more important than anything.
  • Nothing is more important than genki.

Not Genki

There are two ways to say someone isn't genki.
  • genki janai
    元気じゃない
    To not be genki. To not be lively.
  • genki ga nai
    元気がない
    To not have genki. To not have energy.

Seeming Lively

There are various phrases that can be used to note if someone is genki or not.
  • genki nai na
    元気ないな
    [You] don't seem genki, [do you]?
    • You seem gloomy.
  • genki nai ne
    元気ないね
    [You] don't seem genki.
    [He] doesn't seem genki, [don't you think]?

The sou そう suffix can be used after genki, for example.
  • genki-sou da
    元気そうだ
    Seems genki.
    [He] seems lively.
  • genki nasasou da
    元気なさそうだ
    Seems not genki.
    [He] seems gloomy.

As Adjective

Grammatically, genki is a na-adjective and can be used in the attributive as well.
  • oneesan wa genki
    お姉さんは元気
    [My] older sister is genki. (predicative.)
    [The] young lady is genki.
  • genki na oneesan
    元気なお姉さん
    A lively young lady. (predicative.)
    [My] lively older sister.

A few more examples:
  • genki na hito
    元気な人
    A lively person.
  • genki na ko
    元気な
    A lively child.
    A lively person.
  • genki-sou na hito
    元気そうな人
    A person that seems lively.
  • genki-nasa-sou na hito
    元気さそうな人
    A person that doesn't seem lively.
    A person that seems gloomy.

元気をだして

In Japanese, genki, "liveliness," "motivation," "energy," is something that "comes out" of oneself, deru 出る.
  • genki ga deru
    元気が出る
    The genki comes out.
    To feel motivation.
    To start feeling lively. To stop feeling gloomy.
    To regain one's energies.

Grammatically, deru 出る is intransitive: it comes out on its own, and dasu 出す is transitive: someone makes it come out.
  • genki wo dasu
    元気を出す
    To make genki come out.
    To make yourself feel motivation.
    To stop feeling gloomy. To get back on your feet.

Japanese has various forms that can be interpreted as imperative: telling people to do things, or, in this case, telling people to make the genki come out.
  • genki wo dase
    元気を出せ
  • genki wo dashite
    元気を出して

The phrases above mean:
  • Come on, stop feeling down! Smile!
  • Get up, let's go do stuff and have some fun!
  • Stop watching depressing anime all the time and go outside!

On the other hand:
  • genki ga denai
    元気が出ない
    Genki doesn't come out.
    I'm not starting feeling motivated no matter what I do.

Anime Personality

In anime, genki 元気 often refers to characters with an energetic, happy, smiley personality, that never get down and never get gloomy, and are high-tension all the time.
  • genkikko
    元気っ子
    A genki girl. (or guy.)

みおちゃーん スラマッパギ 相生祐子 高1 元気 あ ゆっこ おはよー あれ?スラマッパギ素通り!? 長野原みお 高1 ふつう
Manga: Nichijou 日常 (Episode 1)
  • Context: the characters are introduced.
  • Mio-chaan, suramappaegi
    みおちゃーん スラマッパギ
    Mio-chaan, selamat pagi.
    • Selamat pagi means "good morning" in Malay.
  • Aioi Yuuko, kou-ichi, genki
    相生祐子 高1 元気
    Aioi Yuuko, first year high school student, energetic.
  • a Yukko, ohayoo
    あ ゆっこ おはよー
    Ah, Yukko, good morning.
  • are? suramappagi sudoori!?
    あれ?スラマッパギ素通り!?
    [Uh, what]? Went through [my] selamat pagi!?
    • In the sense that Mio said good morning in Japanese, completely ignoring the Malay greeting.
  • Naganohara Mio, kou-ichi, futsuu
    長野原みお 高1 ふつう
    Naganohara Mio, first year high school student, normal.
    • Mio is normal, unlike Yuuko, which is genki.

Kanji

The kanji of genki 元気 mean:
  • moto
    Former.
    Base. Origin. Root. Source.
  • ki
    Spirit. Feeling.

The word genki 元気 is supposed to be refer to the "source of one's power," chikara no minamoto 力の源, in the same sense that the water of a river flows from its source, the motivation of a person flows from somewhere.

Origin of the Word

In the past, it was also spelled as genki 減気, literally "reduction of feeling." It was used when someone was sick, and the sickness became weakened, the bad feeling went away, was reduced. With time, the spelling and the meaning changed, until it became what it s today. [元気 - gogen-allguide.com, accessed 2019-06-04]

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