Monday, October 22, 2018

Swearing with Kono この

In anime, sometimes you have a character swearing in Japanese saying something like kono...! something. Like kono yarou!, kono baka yarou!, kono baka!, kono aho! Well. Anyway, it starts with kono この, which means "this," but it often gets translated as "you." In this post I'll explain why.

仕方・・・なく・・・ こ・・・・・・の・・・・・・ 何だ何だ!? ザワザワ
Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 1, 清麿、正義のみかた)

How It Works

Alright, let's start with the obvious: kono この means "this" in Japanese. It's a demonstrative pronoun, and an adjective.

Therefore, if you say kono aho, what you are saying, literally, is:
  • kono この
  • aho アホ
  • kono aho! このアホ!
    This idiot!

However, the way kono aho tends to be translated as is "you idiot!" not "this idiot!"

For example:

それが理由だ わかったな!? なるほど!あっくんはツンデレ!! このアホ!!
Manga: Aho Girl, Aho Gāru アホガール (Volume 1, Page 9, 普段ツンツンたまにデレデレの略)
  • Context: Akkun explains to the idiot why he goes to the same school as her even though he could have gone to a better school with his grades.
  • sore ga riyuu da
    That's the reason.
  • wakatta na !?
    [You got it, right]!? (i.e. understood!?)
  • naruhodo!
    [I see]!
  • akkun wa tsundere!!
    Akkun [is] a tsundere!!
  • kono aho!!
    • This idiot!!
    • [You] idiot!!
    • (she didn't get it at all!!)

Since normally you'd say "you idiot" in English and not "this idiot," surely there's some hidden meaning in the word kono that allows it to be translated to "you," right?

Well, not exactly.

The word kono is literally "this." It has nothing to do with "you." It just happens that the way kono is used in Japanese is different from the way "this" is used in English. So, sometimes, it makes more sense to translate the phrase with "you," but that doesn't mean the word kono means "you" by itself.

Thinking vs. Saying

A good way to understand this is looking at the difference of the swearing phrase in thought vs. in speech.

When you're baffled about how stupid the idiot in front of you is, you have two options: tell him what an idiot he is, or: silently judge him for his idiocy. In other words:
  • If you're to tell them:
    "You idiot! What the hell are you doing?!"
  • If you're to think about it:
    (This idiot! What the hell is he doing?!)

The only difference is that Japanese uses the thinking form (this idiot) in both cases.


For reference, some examples of kono being used toward people this way so you can get the hang of it. こ…の…

Sometimes enraged characters have trouble finding the words to express their rage. So the phrase starts as without ending in anything.

仕方・・・なく・・・ こ・・・・・・の・・・・・・ 何だ何だ!? ザワザワ
Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 1, 清麿、正義のみかた)
  • Context: Zatch did something he shouldn't have, Kiyomaro is mad.
  • shikata... naku...
    • [It couldn't be helped.]
    • [There was no other way.] (more literally)
    • [You...... little......]
  • nanda nanda!?
    What is it what is it!?
  • zawa zawa

Kono Onna この女

The example below isn't exactly swearing, but it serves to illustrate a point.

Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 8, 王への資格)
  • Context: Kiyomaro is facing a female antagonist.
    He thinks, in a thought bubble:
  • ko...
    kono onna...

    Th.... this woman...

If the same text were spoken instead of thought, a translator would probably translate it as "you bitch" instead of "you woman," since "you woman" doesn't sound like swearing in English.

Note, however, that Kiyomaro didn't say it, he only thought of it. So whether you interpret it as "this woman" or "this bitch" depends on whether you think the character is baffled or annoyed.

Kono Yarou この野郎

One of the most common uses of swearing with kono is in kono yarou この野郎.

The word yarou 野郎 literally means "guy," but it's often used in swearing, where it's usually translated as "bastard."

Manga: Boku no Hero Academia, 僕のヒーローアカデミア (Chapter 29, 知られてない)
  • Context: Deku puts on a fight. The out-of-frame antagonist, looking at Deku, expresses their thoughts about him.
  • kono yarou----...!
    • This guy...!
    • This [bastard]...!

Above, someone is pissed at Deku for testing their patience, and uses kono yarou in thought like: this yarou is testing my patience.

Most of the time, however, the patience has already been tested, and kono yarou isn't expressed in thought but in screams of rage.

Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5, 道具か人間か!?)
  • ii kagen ni shi-yagare,
    • [That's enough],
    • [Stop that],
    • [Cut it off],
  • kono yarou!!!
    [You bastard]!!!

Kono Something Yarou

The word yarou 野郎 can often take qualifiers before it. This is explained in further detail in the article about yarou, but basically it's just variations of the same expletive and the translation depends more on the qualifier than on the word yarou.

Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5, 道具か人間か!?)
  • Context: the antagonist made a mistake. Kiyomaro comments on it.
  • he...
  • zamaa miro...
    • [It servers you right...]
    • Expression used toward someone when they make a mistake.
  • kono kuso yarou...
    Qualifier: "shit," kuso 糞.
    • [You piece of shit]...

Kono Yaku Tatazu この役立たず

Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5, 道具か人間か!?)
  • kono
    yaku tatazu

    [You useless brat]!!!
    • yaku ni tatsu 役に立つ
      To be useful.
      To act [one's] role. (more literally.)
    • tatazu 立たず
      Zu ず form of tatsu 立つ.
      Without doing (whatever tatsu means in the context.)
    • yaku tatazu 役立たず
      To be useless.
      Without acting [one's] role. (i.e. unfit for the job you were given.)
    • ga が particle
      This marks the subject, it's untranslatable.
      Normally it comes before something else, but the phrase is cut short here.

More Examples

As one would expect, there's a dozen of words that mean "idiot" in Japanese. Pretty much all of them can be understood and translated the same way.
  • kono boke このボケ!
    kono aho このアホ!
    kono baka この馬鹿!
    kono manuke! この間抜け!
    • This idiot!
    • [You] idiot!

Sometimes, the suffix me め gets added after the noun. That's a deprecating suffix that can be used in swearing. There's no real translation. You can assume it just makes the noun worse.
  • kono dorobou この泥棒!
    • [You] thief!
  • kono dorobou-me! この泥棒め!
    • (wait, what's worse than a thief?)
    • You... criminal!
    • You... uh... burglar!
kosoado kotoba こそあど言葉

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