Sunday, February 17, 2019

いい子, ii ko - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, ii ko いい子, also spelled ii ko 良い子, means "good child," or "good kid." It can also be used toward adults, animals, etc. depending on context to say they're a "good," ii いい, person, animal, etc. See Ko for details.

The phrase yoi ko よい子 is a synonymous variant.

Example of ii ko いい子 used in Japanese.
Manga: Usagi Drop うさぎドロップ (Chapter 2)

Usage

The basic usage of ii ko いい子 is, obviously, toward children. It implies they're well-behaved, don't do much mischief, respect their parents, do their homework, brush their teeth before bed, etc. etc..
  • ii ko da いい子だ
    [He's] a good child.
    [He's] a good kid.
    [He's] a good [boy].
    [She's] a good [girl].

The opposite would be a warui ko 悪い子, "bad child," since warui 悪い is the antonym of ii いい.

The phrase ii ko is sometimes repeated when used to comfort children:
  • yoshi yoshi, ii ko ii ko よしよしいい子いい子
    There, there, good [boy], good [boy].
    There, there, good [girl], good [girl].

いい子にしてた

The phrase ii ko ni shiteta いい子にしてた means "has been a good kid." Grammatically, it's ii ko followed by a contraction of ni suru にする conjugated to the past form of the te-iro-form. Basically:
  • ii ko ni suru いい子にする
    To make it so it's an ii ko.
    To make [someone] a good kid.
  • ii ko ni shiteiru いい子にしている
    ii ko ni shiteru いい子にしてる
    To be making [someone] a good kid.
    To be making [oneself] a good kid.
    To be being a good kid.
  • ii ko ni shiteita いい子にしていた
    ii ko ni shiteta いい子にしてた
    To have made [someone] a good kid.
    To have made [oneself] a good kid.
    To have been a good kid.

あ・・・ありがとうございました!! せんせーさようなら さようなら おとなしいからちょっとだけ心配だったけどりんちゃんとってもいい子にしてましたよ!! quote from manga Usagi Drop うさぎドロップ (Chapter 2)
Manga: Usagi Drop うさぎドロップ (Chapter 2)
  • Context: guy comes take his child from a "nursery school," hoikuen 保育園.
  • a... arigatou gozaimashita!!
    あ・・・ありがとうございました!!
    T... thank you [for everything]!!
    • Past tense of arigatou gozaimasu.
  • sensee sayounara
    せんせーさようなら
    Good bye, teacher.
  • sayounara
    さようなら
    Good bye.
  • otonashii kara chotto dake shinpai datta kedo
    おとなしいからちょっとだけ心配だったけど
    [She's] quiet so [I] was a bit worried, but
  • Rin-chan tottemo ii ko ni shitemashita yo
    りんちゃんとってもいい子にしてましたよ!!
    Rin-chan was a very good [girl], [you see]!!

私去年は良い子じゃなかったみたいでサンタさん来てくれなかったんです だから今年は良い子になろうと思って! quote from manga Hitori-gurashi no Shougakusei ひとり暮らしの小学生 (Chapter 11)
Manga: Hitori-gurashi no Shougakusei ひとり暮らしの小学生 (Chapter 11)
  • Context: it's Christmas and a grade school student is cleaning the school windows. But why?
  • watashi kyonen wa ii ko
    janakatta
    mitai de santa Santa-san
    kite-kurenakatta-n-desu

    私去年は良い子じゃなかったみたいでサンタさん来てくれなかったんです
    It seems last year I wasn't a good child so Santa-san didn't come [for me].
  • dakara kotoshi wa
    ii ko ni narou to
    omotte!
    だから今年は良い子になろうと思って!
    As such, [I] thought: this year [I] will become a good kid!

いい子にしててね

The phrase ii ko ni suru can also be conjugated to the imperative like this:
  • ii ko ni shiteite ne いい子にしていてね
    ii ko ni shitete ne いい子にしててね
    Be a good kid, [ok]?
    • Contraction of the te-form of the te-iru-form of suru. I.e.
    • suru. (dictionary form.)
    • shi. (nominal.)
    • shi-te. (te-form.)
    • shi-te-i-ru. (te-iru-form.)
    • shi-te-i-te. (te-form of te-iru-form.)
    • shi-te-te. (contraction.)

Similar phrases include:
  • ii ko ni shinasai いい子にしなさい
    Be a good kid. (nasai form.)
  • ii ko ni shitetara いい子にしてたら
    If [you're] a good kid... (conditional, tara-form, of te-iru-form.)

ガツガツ ポンポン 良い子にしてろよ、ナポレオン ブヒ? quote from manga School Rumble (Chapter 81)
Manga: School Rumble (Chapter 81)
  • Context: Harima Kenji feeds Napoleon.
  • gatsu gatsu
    ガツガツ
    *eating noise* (onomatopoeia.)
  • ponpon
    ポンポン
    *tap tap* (mimetic word.)
  • ii ko ni shitero yo,
    Naporeon
  • 良い子にしてろよ、ナポレオン
    Be a good [pig], Napoleon.
    • shitero してろ
      shiteiro していろ
      Imperative form of te-iru form.
  • Harima Kenji leaves Napoleon behind.
  • buhi?
    ブヒ?
    *concerned pig noise*

Malicious Usage

The phrase ii ko いい子 isn't always used to sincerely say "good kid." Sometimes, it's used maliciously, by evil, nasty characters.

When this happens, ii ko いい子 has the nuance of "obedient," "submissive." That is, the evil character is saying: "be a good kid and do as I say."

This, obviously, comes from the fact that "good kids" behave well and obey their parents.

In general, there are two ways ii ko is used in an impurely:
  1. A figure of authority, usually an old, corrupt villain, tells an young, just subordinate to not meddle in his corrupt affairs.
  2. A character is blackmailing another, and uses ii ko to humiliate them by comparing them to a child.

Fortunately, you can easily tell, in manga, whether the speaker is impure or not:

そう いい子だね ロゼ quote from manga Fullmetal Alchemist, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Chapter 1)
Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Chapter 1)
  • sou
    そう
    [That's right.]
  • ii ko da ne
    いい子だね
    [You're] a good [girl], [aren't you]?
  • Roze
    ロゼ
    Rosé. (her name.)

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