第257課: Easy II: ～よい
Previously when we learned about ～やすい, we learned about the basic words and grammar used to express “easy” in Japanese. Ironically, this was no easy task. What’s more, this ‘easy’ task is by no means over. There were three points of contention left uncovered in our first lesson.
- Covering synonymous phrases not touched on.
- Covering the rival ending ～よい.
- Covering the various uses of “easy” in English and what their Japanese equivalents are.
Combined, these three points give us ample amounts of material to cover. So, let’s get started!
Synonyms of “Easy” 「簡単」の類義語
For the most part, we did a very thorough job of covering most of the synonymous phrases in Japanese for indicating something that is “easy,” but there was one handful of verbs left to cover which each have rather specialized meanings.
|簡易（な）||Usually used in jargon, it has the meaning of “easy/convenient,” and its used in reference to something’s simplicity and not simplicity in doing. This sets it apart from the previous words for “easy” that were touched on.|
|安易（な）||It may describe situations which lack hardship, but it may also imply that the situation requests little thought/effort/planning. It may also be used with the meaning “lighthearded.” This is apparent due to the use of the Kanji 易.|
|安直（な）||Its primary meaning is “inexpensive,” but it may also mean “simply/easy” in the sense of being capable of doing with ease (due to being inexpensive).|
|手軽（な）||This word is used to describe situations that are simple which don’t require a bunch of hastle to get done. It’s often used in reference to cooking, handling, etc. It is identical to 簡単 when referencing things that are don’t require time and hassle, but it cannot be used to refer to thingst hat aren’t complicated.|
|単純（な）||This word means “simple” as in “straightforward/uncomplicated” and is the antonym of 複雑.|
I purchased a portable toilet for use during a disaster.
Word Note: Although it is translated as “portable,” the use of 簡易 emphasizes its “makeshift” and “simple/convenient” structure.
A cheap lodging facility completely burned down and many of the residents died.
Dog euthanasia is something you must absolutely not think lightly of.
Don’t simply run away to words of apology like “sorry” or “my apologies.”
On top of being simple and delicious, it also warms you up.
Word Note: In a situation like this where the speaker is emphasizing how easy it was to make the meal, it may not necessarily have a negative connotation, but when 安直 is directed at something made by someone else, it usually has a negative connotation. The logic of something being cheap results in bad quality is strong when using this word, but there exceptions like this example where the word is being used in a humble sense.
I don’t think it’s that simple.
The Ending ～よい 補助形容詞の「～よい」
Attaching to the 連用形 of verbs, ～よい is used to describe actions which are easy, simple, smooth, and done with ease. Although its meaning is straightforward enough, its practical application is far more unclear. Although it can theoretically attach to any volitional verb, but it can’t be used to show simple tendencies, meaning it must always be used with active verbs and NEVER the passive voice, which are both differences it has with ～やすい.
Its use among generations 40 and under is almost nonexistent, although it remains used to some degree in advertisement where its refined, pleasant, and pure undertones may be employed.
To those seeking a stronger flavor rather than just something that’s easy to drink, please try our shochu!
Taking a smooth oar in hand, (he) set out towards a people who knew not of the sea.
A town you can live at ease is a town you can go to at ease.
Perhaps the most common example of this ending is 住みよい (to be easy to live at). In fact, the surname 住吉 shares its origin with this phrase. It remains favored by real estate and municipalities to avoid any connotations of the community being seen as “cheap,” which may be implied by ～やすい.
Nonetheless, many speakers find attaching ～よい to verbs in general, regardless of the relatively high rate of use of 住みよい, to be incredibly unnatural, but it is worth pointing out that speakers who still use ～よい may actually utilize ～いい in their vernacular.
(We’re) having fun living how we please in a way that’s easy for the both of us.
Is there anything you can do to make this a little easier to understand?
The Other Meanings of Easy 「Easy」の多種多様な用法
The English word for “easy” is not limited to meaning “simple.” For instance, “an easy teacher” is not the same thing as saying “an easy slope,” but each expression uses the same word “easy.” To illustrate this, in the examples below, at least one key word or phrase will relate to the English word “easy,” but the meaning of “easy” will vary drastically between examples. This section will serve as a mental exercise to demonstrate how translating is not always so transparent.
Take it easy.
Easy come, easy go.
It was an easy delivery.
Please go easy on me.
The teacher is too easy on the students.
I really can’t stand easy women.
I want to lead an easy life.
I’m gonna go easy on you from now on.
I bought easy-fit pajamas.