Oh, My Ears are Burning! Japanese Idioms 耳が痛い

Oh, My Ears are Burning! Japanese Idioms 耳が痛い

耳が痛い
mimi ga itai
(of a reprimand) to make one’s ears burn; hit where it hurts

 

 

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When someone says something that hits on a touchy subject or reminds you of a weakness you have, then your “ears hurt.”

Literally, “ears hurt.” The “hurt” in your ears comes from hearing something you don’t want to hear.

彼の忠告を聞くのは、耳が痛い。

kare no chuukoku o kiku no wa, mimi ga itai.
Hearing his advice really hit a nerve.

kare—he
忠告  chuukoku—advice; warning
聞く kiku—to hear; to listen

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Japanese Idiom: あいづちを打つ Making Sounds to Show Comprehension

Japanese Idiom: あいづちを打つ Making Sounds to Show Comprehension

Japanese Idiom Lesson:

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
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
~ながら ~nagara—while


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