Today’s excursion into the wonderful world of Japanese leads us to one of the more exciting words in the history of language: わがまま. Go ahead, let ‘er rip. Say that a few times and your mouth will thank you for it. It is almost as fun as そのまま, but not quite.
Yumi was complaining about Makoto not eating his vegetables this morning. I came to his defense. The exchange went something like this:
Yumi (to Makoto): わがまましないで!
Clay: それは不可能。
Yumi: 不可能?
Clay: そう、あなたにしか言えないと思う。
Yumi: なんで?
Clay: 「わが息子」か「わが子」などはいいですけど、「わがまま」?不可能です。
And now the explanation to why this is such a sidesplitting exchange.
わがまましないで! wagamama shinai de! Don’t be so selfish/picky!
– Of course the まま here sounds a lot like ママ as in ママ&パパ. Since Makoto isn’t a girl, the possibility of him being a ママ is… zero.
それは不可能。 sore wa fukanou. That is impossible.
– 不可能 is a useful word. The 「不」 is a negator like our ‘un’ or ‘non’; Without it, just look at the (im)possibilities: 不可能 impossible, 可能 kanou possible
そう、あなたにしか言えないと思う。 sou, anata ni shika ienai to omou. Yeah, I think it can only apply to you.
– そう that’s right (agree)
– あなたにしか anata ni shika you to only; the しか means ‘only’ and is followed by a negative verb. In this case, the negative verb is 言えない.
– 言えない ienai can’t say; It is negative because of the しか. If it helps, you can think of it as, “It can’t be said of anyone but you.”
なんで? nande? Why? What for?
‘waga musuko’ ka ‘waga ko’ nado wa ii desu kedo, ‘wagamama’? fukanou desu.
‘waga musuko’ or ‘waga ko’ are fine, but ‘wagamama’? Impossible!

– 我が waga by itself means ‘my’ so my thick skulled response would mean ‘my son’ and ‘my child’
– など nado etc, and so forth
– いいですけど ii desu kedo …is fine, but…

わがまま wagamama selfish
Example from Kenkyusha’s J-E:
kondo dake wa wagamama o sasete kudasai.
Please let me do what I like, just this once.
そのまま sonomama leave it as is; without change
sonomama no hou ga ii.
I like it better as it is.

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