Translations Musings: Otsukaresama – a Japanese untranslatable

Aug 11, 2015 | Uncategorized

business-meeting-1239191-640x480After a long, tiring day at work it’s nice to know that all our hard work is appreciated, that there is someone who sees our efforts and if we get a bit tired, they’ll try to cheer us up and encourage us for achieving more. It’s good to hear some positive words after an exhausting day. In English it would be difficult to cram all the appreciation, encouragement, acknowledgement into one single word, but don’t worry! The Japanese have just the right expression for you.

If you hear お疲れ様 (otsukaresama) upon leaving the office, you can be sure that your efforts weren’t in vain. Although literally it means something like “you are/look tired”, it’s not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings by pointing out their baggy, sleepy eyes. On the contrary! It’s used to say “thank you for all your hard work” or “thanks, you worked a lot today”. Also, it is quite common to say goodbye to your colleagues at the end of a long session of brainstorming or a tough meeting with this word, in which case it means “see you later”. What a handy expression, isn’t it?

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