口が重い kuchi ga omoi
This is used when someone speaks only a little or is very quiet.
The antonym of this expression is 口が軽い。 kuchi ga karui. One’s mouth is light.
This idiom literally means, “mouth is heavy.” A heavy mouth doesn’t say much.
デート中なにも話しませんでした。 Because Sato is naturally quiet, she didn’t say anything during her date.
佐藤 satou—Sato (a Japanese last name)
は wa—[topic particle] (written with hiragana “ha” but pronounced “wa” when used as particle.
ので node—therefore; because
デート中 de-to chuu—during a date
なにも nanimo—nothing; not at all
話しませんでした hanashimasen deshita—didn’t speak
あいづちを打つ aizuchi o utsu
sounds given during a conversation to show you are listening and engaged
When talking with someone, to show you are engaged in the conversation, you may nod or say things like “That’s right” or “You don’t say!”
Examples of あいづち aizuchi in Japanese are 「はい」hai, 「うん」un, 「へえ」hee, and「なるほど」naruhodo.
This idiom comes from the rhythm the blacksmith and his apprentice have when trading blows hammering hot metal. The “ai” means “together” and “tsuchi” is a hammer. “utsu” means to hit. Two people hammering hot metal require careful coordination as do people in conversation.
あの人の話は面白くなかったけれど、一応あいづちを打ちながら聞いていた。 That person’s story was not interesting, but I listened while throwing in the occasional “uh huh” and “yes.”
あの人 ano hito—that person
話 hanashi—story; talk
面白くなかった omoshiroku nakatta—wasn’t interest
けれど keredo—but; however
一応 ichi ou—for the time being
You may have seen this facial gesture in Japanese anime, manga, or in the movies. While it is considered immature and childish, it has a rude or dismissive meaning–not as bad as the Western middle finger, but not polite either. It’s a way to mildly insult someone. It is called akkanbe- and involves facing someone while using a finger to pull on the lower eyelid and (usually) stick out the tongue.
The earliest reference to this act is in a novel by Katai Tayama. He says the origin is a corruption of 赤い akai (red) and 目 me (eye). Makes sense since pulling the lower eyelid reveals a red area.
Albert Einstein sticks his tongue out in an akkanbe- fashion to the right. One comic of the robot cat, Doraemon, has アカンベーダー akanbe-da- which is a parody of Darth Vader. Crayon Shinchan also employs akanbe at times.
This can be written/pronounced as あかんべえ (akanbee), あっかんべー (akkanbe-), or, in katakana, アッカンベー (akkanbe-).
If you want to show your love of Japanese while being a bit rude about it, we have a few akkanbe- themed products over at TheJapanShop.com. Check them out.