Monday, February 25, 2019

いい加減, ii-kagen - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, ii-kagen いい加減 means literally that something is at a "good degree." However, most of the time, in anime, you'll see it as ii kagen ni shiro いい加減にしろ and phrases alike, which mean "STOP DOING THAT >:(", "CUT IT OUT!!!", "GIVE IT A REST" and so on.

An example of iikagen いい加減 used in Japanese.
Manga: Zatch Bell! / Konjiki no Gasshu!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5)

Literal Meaning

Let's start with the literal meaning of ii kagen いい加減. It's the combination of two words:
  • ii いい
    Good. (i-adjective.)
  • kagen 加減
    Degree. (noun.)

Note that "degree" is a rather ambiguous word. To clarify, kagen 加減, is written with the kanji for the words:
  • kuwawaru 加わる
    To add.
  • heru 減る
    To decrease.

We can guess from the meaning of these kanji that kagen is about "adding and decreasing." That is, it's a "degree" in the sense we can rise and lower, make stronger or weaker. So it's about finding a balance between plus and minus or determining an extent.

Even so, kagen is still pretty vague.

Since we have the adjective for "good" before it, an ii kagen いい加減 is literally a "good degree." Like:
  • ii-kagen no ondo いい加減の温度
    A temperature of good degree.
    • Let's assume for a moment that:
    • Warmer is ka 加, "add," and:
    • Colder is gen 減, "decrease."
    • Thus, a good kagen 加減 is a good balance of warm and cold, add and decrease.

This "balance/degree" kagen isn't to be confused with a "degree" of temperature, like Celsius, which is do 度 instead.
  • san-juu do
    30度
    30 degrees.

Anyway, when kagen is used we can presume it means either of these five things:
  1. We found something that's at the perfect degree, at a "good degree."
  2. The degree of something has risen until it's become a "good degree."
  3. Or maybe it's beyond a "good degree."
  4. The degree has lowered until it's become a "good degree."
  5. Or maybe it's under a "good degree."

As you might imagine, this article is mostly about the third situation: something is beyond a good degree—someone said too much, did too much—so it must get some gen 減 on that kagen 加減 to make it an ii-kagen いい加減.

ii Kagen ni Shiro! いい加減にしろ!

The phrase ii kagen ni shiro いい加減にしろ means "stop doing that!" or "cut it out!" or "give it a rest!" and so on. It's used when a character is angry at another for overstepping some boundary, saying too much, fooling around too much, doing something too much, and so on.

This phrase can be used in all sorts of situations. If characters are fooling around in class instead of studying, or if somebody's friends, or nakama 仲間, are fooling around, you may see a:
  • ii kagen ni shiro, omae-ra!
    いい加減にしろ お前ら!
    Stop fooling around, you guys!
    • STAHP!

On the other side, if a villain is doing something evil, like humiliating the character's friend with words, or bullying someone, or beating a someone to a pulp, and so on, you may also see a:
  • ii kagen ni shiro, kisama!
    いい加減にしろ 貴様!
    CUT IT OUT, YOU BASTARD!!!
    • >:C

Although, if the characters are not some fantasy adventurer samurai-pirate-ninja something, they probably won't use the word kisama. If they're delinquents in high school, you may see:
  • ii kagen ni shiro, temee!
    いい加減にしろてめぇ!
    (same meaning.)

Or any other word that works as second person pronoun, honestly.

Explanation

Anyway, to explain how the phrase ii kagen ni shiro works, first we need to understand what ii kagen ni suru means. That's because shiro しろ is the imperative conjugation of suru する.
  • ni suru にする
    To make it so it's [somehow].
  • ii kagen ni suru いい加減にする
    To make it so it's a good degree.

But how do we get from "to make it so it's a good degree" (literally) to "stop doing that" (interpretation)?

It's very simple: if someone is doing something too much, they're doing it at a bad degree. Thus, telling them to make it a "good degree" means they should do it less. In other words, it's telling them to stop.

Remember: kagen 加減 is "degree" in the "add-and-decrease" sense. So if someone added to much, to get a good kagen you need to decrease.

Variants

In Japanese, ni shiro にしろ is but one way to create an imperative, an order, a command. There are other ways to tell people to "cut it out," including:
  • ii-kagen ni shite
    いい加減にして
    (te-form as imperative.)
  • ii-kagen ni shite-kure
    いい加減にしてくれ
    Stop doing that, for my sake, okay?
    (te-form plus kureru くれる auxiliary verb, translated to "for me," basically.)
  • ii-kagen ni shinasai
    いい加減にしなさい
    (nasai form. Basically a more polite way of saying. In anime, you may see guys using shiro while girls use shinasai.)

Some examples:

いい加減にしやがれ、この野郎!!! quote from manga Zatch Bell! / Konjiki no Gasshu!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5)
Manga: Zatch Bell! / Konjiki no Gasshu!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5)
  • Context: rightful wrath.
  • ii-kagen ni shi-yagare, kono yarou!!!
    いい加減にしやがれ、この野郎!!!
    CUT IT OUT, YOU BASTARD!!!
    • yagaru やがる
      Auxiliary verb. Usually means that someone had the nerve to do something, but in this form, shi-yagare, it's synonymous with shiro, shinasai, except more angry.

アンタらいい加減にしなさいよっ!!面倒見きれないって!! quote from manga Gabriel DropOut ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 5)
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, Gavuriiru Doroppuauto ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 5)
  • Context: Vignette learns the harsh realities of doing group projects.
  • anta-ra ii-kagen ni shinasai yo'!!
    アンタらいい加減にしなさいよっ!!
    You [two], stop it already!!
  • mendou mi-kirenai tte!!
    面倒見きれないって!!
    I can't take care of all the trouble you make!!
    • mendou 面倒
      Trouble.
    • mendou wo miru
      面倒を見る
      To see trouble.
      To take care of trouble.
      To take care of someone, which is trouble, in the sense of it may cause trouble to you to do it.
    • -kiru ~きる
      Completely. (auxiliary verb.)
    • mendou wo mi-kiru
      面倒を見きる
      To completely take care.
    • mendou wo mi-kireru
      面倒を見きれる
      To be able to completely take care.
      (potential form.)
    • mendou wo mi-kirenai
      面倒を見きれない
      To not be able to completely take care.
      (negative potential form.)
    • Vignette can't handle all this trouble.

"Stop Doing That"

You've probably figured this out already, but ii-kagen ni shiro doesn't mean literally "stop doing that." For reference, "stop doing that" in Japanese is generally:
  • yamero! やめろ!
    yamenasai! やめなさい!
    Stop [doing that]!
  • sore wo yamero それをやめろ
    sore wo yamenasai それをやめなさい
    Stop that!
    Stop [doing] that!
    • sore wo tomero! それを止めろ!
      Stop that! (physically stop something from moving, as opposed to give up doing something.)

"Cut It Out"

Likewise, ii-kagen ni shiro doesn't mean literally "to cut it out." To say "to cut it out" in Japanese you'd need an auxiliary verb, like:
  • kiru 切る
    To cut.
  • kiri-nuku 切り抜く
    To cut and extract.
    • shashin wo kiri-nuku
      写真を切り抜く
      To cut-and-extract a photo.
      To make a cutout of a photo. (e.g. in Photoshop.)
  • kiri-toru 切り取る
    To cut and take.
    • hana wo kiri-toru
      花を切り取る
      To cut-and-take a flower.
      To cut out a flower and take it with you.

"Give It a Rest"

And of course, ii-kagen ni shiro doesn't mean "to give it a rest" either. To say "to give it a rest" in Japanese you'd just say the verb "to rest" in the causative imperative form:
  • yasumu 休む
    To rest.
  • yasumaseru 休ませる
    To let rest.
  • yasumasero 休ませろ
    To let rest. (imperative.)
  • uma wo yasumasero 馬を休ませろ
    Let the horses rest.
    • They're tired, the poor things!

ii-kagen ni いい加減に

Sometimes, ii-kagen ni いい加減に is used to say basically the same thing as ii-kagen ni shiro, or rather, as ii-kagen ni shite.

That's because ii-kagen ni usually comes before what the speaker is supposed to be doing. So it translates more or less to "come on, stop it already and..." or something similar.

For example:
  • ii-kagen ni denwa dero
    いい加減に電話出ろ
    For the love of God, answer the phone [already].
    • denwa ni deru 電話に出る
      To answer the phone.
    • In this phrase, the speaker wants the listener to "answer the phone."
    • So what ii-kagen ni refers to is actually the habit of the listener of "not answering the phone."
    • sore wo yamero それをやめろ
      Stop [doing] that. (stop not answering the phone!)

It makes more sense when we look at it more literally:
  • ii-kagen ni shite
    denwa dero

    いい加減にして
    電話でろ
    Make it a good degree, and
    answer the phone.
    • Stop fooling around, and
      answer the phone.

ii-kagen Alone

Sometimes, ii-kagen いい加減 is used alone and it means basically the same thing as ii-kagen ni.

いいかげん不良なんてヤメてマジメにやりなさい だから不良じゃないっつーの quote from manga Holy Land (Chapter 46)
Manga: Holy Land (Chapter 46)
  • Context: a guy leaves the hospital after being hospitalized after a street fight. A nurse gives him advice.
  • ii-kagen
    yankii nante yamete
    majime ni yarinasai

    いいかげん不良なんてヤメてマジメにやりなさい
    For crying out loud, stop being a delinquent and do it seriously.
    • yankii ヤンキー
      A common slang for "delinquent," from "yankee," is a gikun reading for furyou 不良, which also means "delinquent."
    • She assumes he's a delinquent since he was in a fight.
  • dakara yankii janai ttsuu no
    だから不良じゃないっつーの
    Like I said [already], I'm not a delinquent.

ii-kagen na いい加減な

The phrase ii-kagen na いい加減な would be ii-kagen used as an adjective. Technically, it's replacing the adverbial copula ni に by the adjectival copula na な. See: How Na-adjectives Work for details.

This usage is particularly interesting because it highlights how ii-kagen has become an expression detached from its original meaning.

By its literal meaning, ii-kagen na mean something is at a "good degree." But since ii-kagen ni and the rest is often used when something should be made into a good degree, that is, when something is NOT already at a good degree, ii-kagen na ends up meaning the opposite of what it literally means.

To elaborate:
  • ii-kagen na ondo いい加減な温度
    A temperature [that's] at a good degree.
    • This is the literal meaning.
    • na な and no の can both be classified as adjectival copulas, so sometimes you can switch one for the other with nouns. See How No-adjectives Work for details.
  • ii-kagen na hanashi いい加減な話
    A conversation [that's too much].
    A conversation [that's not at a good degree].
    A conversation [you should stop].
    A story [that's nonsense, full of rumors, lies, etc.]
    • This is literally the opposite of the literal meaning!!!

In the latter case, because if someone is saying too much you'd tell them to keep it at an ii-kagen—that is: to drop it, to stop it—somehow, probably because Japanese hates you, the phrase ii-kagen na can mean that something is "too much" and should stop, rather than it already is at a "good degree."

Pitch Accent

Note that, although these two ii-kagen are written the same way, they're usually pronounced differently.

When the ii-kagen genuinely means "good," the ii starts with a high pitch. When it means something bad, the opposite happens: it starts in a lower pitch and ends in a higher pitch.

To have an idea, just imagine how this is pronounced:
  • kore ga ii! sugoku iiii'!
    これがいい!すごくいいぃーっ!
    This is good! Very gooood!

If it's pronounced like that, it's probably the "good" sense. Of course, it's easier to just tell from context.

Anyway, from there the word ii-kagen goes even further: it can be used to a number of things that should "stop" and fix themselves. For example, it can be used toward something that's been done "half-assed," and should be fixed.
  • ii-kagen na ondo いい加減な温度
    • High-to-low pitch of ii:
      Perfect temperature.
      Good temperature.
    • Low-to-high pitch of ii:
      Awful temperature.
      Half-assed temperature. (regulate it right!)

ii-kagen na Hito いい加減な人

The word ii-kagen can also refer to people who have a bad attitude and you'd like them to stop with that.
  • ii-kagen na otoko いい加減な男
    ii-kagen na dansei いい加減な男性
    A man who is (not) ii-kagen.
    • A man who's no good, specially as a romantic interest.
    • A man with habits you'd rather he stopped.
    • A man who goes after other women besides his girlfriend,
    • A man to whom you'd say: ii-kagen ni shiro
  • ii-kagen na hito いい加減な
    (same thing but "person" instead of "man.")

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