Monday, February 4, 2019

warukunai 悪くない

In Japanese, warukunai 悪くない means literally "not bad," the negative form of warui 悪い, "bad." The word warukunai can also mean "it's not my fault" or "it's not his fault," since warui can be used to say something is something's fault. For the same reason, warukunai can also mean there's nothing "wrong" with something.

The word warukunakatta 悪くなかった, "was not bad," past negative form, would also work similarly but in the past.

Manga: Rozen Maiden, ローゼンメイデン (Chapter 14)

"Not Bad"

The antonym of warui 悪い, "bad," would be ii いい, "good," but sometimes people say something is "not bad" instead of saying something is"good." This happens in both English and Japanese. The choice of warukunai over ii can happen for a number of reasons:
  1. Saying "good" sounds too strong of an endorsement, so you say "not bad" instead. A word of mild approval.
  2. You wanted something else, but this isn't bad either; it's satisfactory.
  3. Someone said something was bad, warui, and you're denying by saying it's not bad, warukunai.

Manga: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! 私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! (Chapter 4)
  • Context: nerd girl likes place full of nerds.
  • maa まあ
  • watashi ika no
    ningen shika inai toiu
    kono kuukan wa warukunai ga

    This space [in which]
    [there's nobody better than me]
    isn't bad, though.
    • watashi ika no ningen
      Humans equal-or-below me.
      Humans lesser than me.
      People worse than me.
    • ...shika inai ~しかいない
      There's nobody but... [humans lesser than me, in this place.]
    • ga
      But. However. Though.

Some examples including set phrases:

"Not My Fault"

In Japanese, sometimes warui 悪い can be used to blame someone for something: "it's his fault." Therefore, warukunai, being negative, can be used to say "it's not his fault."
  • kare ga warui 彼が悪い
    He's bad.
    It's his fault.
  • kare ga warukunai 彼が悪くない
    He's not bad.
    It's not his fault.
Manga: Rozen Maiden, ローゼンメイデン (Chapter 14)

"Nothing Wrong With This"

In Japanese, sometimes warui 悪い can be used to ask "what's wrong about this?" Specially when the speaker thinks there's nothing wrong with it. The word warukunai can be used in a similar way to say there's nothing wrong with what the speaker is doing.
  • tasukeru 助ける
    To help. (with an emergency: help me!)
    To save.
    • tetsudau 手伝う
      To help. (with more trivial stuff: help cleaning the room.)
      To assist.
  • hito wo tasukete nani ga warui?
    "Saving people, what's bad?"
    What's wrong with saving people?
    (i.e. I'm trying to save people here, you're telling me I'm wrong? Why? Why do you go against me! I'm the good guy here!)
  • hito wo tasukeru no wa warukunai!
    "Saving people isn't bad!"
    There's nothing wrong with saving people!

Further Reading

See Also

  • yokunai よくない
    Just like warukunai is sometimes used instead of ii, the word yokunai is sometimes used instead of warui.

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