第196課: The Adverbs せっかく & わざわざ
This lesson will focus on two adverbs that are featured on the JLPT N3: せっかく and わざわざ. Both adverbs relate to actions the speaker goes through the effort of doing, but the implication as to why the speaker is doing so is not the same.
The Adverbial Noun せっかく
せっかく indicates a feat that the agent goes through considerable hardship and/or difficulty to accomplish, and the implication is that the big cost will bring about a big reward or at least a very good motivation to do so. Similarly, if the context reveals that the agent has failed despite all that hard effort, it is all the more painfully described.
せっかく is, first and foremost, and adverbial noun. So, if there is no case particle after it, it is functioning as an adverb, and if there is, it functions as a noun. It is predominantly used as an adverb, and when it is, whether it is used in a positive sense or negative sense can be determined by the conjugation particle that follows (to be discussed in further detail below).
Since I’ve taken the trouble to study Japanese, I want to make sure I have a command of the language.
Please try not to forget Japanese, which you’ve gone through the trouble of learning.
I accidentally flipped the cake that I had gone through the effort of making.
Even if you go through the effort of going to Japan, if all you do is always speak in English, your Japanese won’t get better.
Etymology Note: When written in Kanji, せっかく is written as 折角. Although this appears to be Ateji, its etymology begs to differ. It derives from a folklore (故事) known as the 朱雲伝 in which 朱雲 would debate with 充宗 who lived in a place called 五鹿 over divinations and that he was known by people at the time to break the horns of deer, befitting of the placename. Breaking the horns of a deer with brute strength would not be an easy task, and so this is then translated into Japanese as 骨を折ること as the closest idiom. In Modern Japanese, it is no longer typically used as a synonym of “hardship/difficulty” in a purely nominal sense, but it most certainly lives on with this nuancing adverbially.
Grammar Patterns Utilizing せっかく
Although the meaning of せっかく is fairly easy to grasp, it is usually studied in conjunction with several grammar points that it is usually paired with.
Terminology Note: To provide for a higher quality discussion from a linguistic perspective, two important Japanese grammatical terms will be referenced.
・順接: Grammar that utilizes a conjugative particle to show cause/effect in an affirmative context. In other words, Clause A affirms what occurs in Clause B.
・逆接: Grammar that utilizes a conjugative particle to show cause/effect in a negative context in which Clause B contradicts Clause A.
Because interpreting せっかくcorrectly largely lies on your ability to determine the relationship between Clause A and B, each grammar point will be labeled with 順接・逆接 respectively.
・せっかくの: When used as a noun, せっかく usually modifies a following noun and takes on the nuance of describing that noun (situation) as something seldom ascertainable, precious, long-awaited, etc. This application is tied to its literal sense of something being borne out of considerable effort. Additionally, if said opportunity ends up being wasted, the speaker is painfully aware of how regrettable that is.
【順接 30%・逆接 70%】
So that you ensure all of your valuable effort is not all for naught (lit. doesn’t turn into water bubbles), determine whether information is truly necessary or not.
Although this is so generous of you, the circumstances are that it would be difficult to meet your expectations due to budgeting.
It ended up raining on my precious day off.
Since it’s my long-awaited day off, I don’t want to go out anywhere.
You mustn’t blow a rare, good opportunity.
Check these important points to make sure that your valuable souvenirs aren’t confiscated at customs!
Given that I can’t speak, it’d be no different than a diamond in the ground not shining when the sun is upon it, and so even knowledge that I go through all the effort to have becomes utterly useless.
From 吾輩は猫である by 夏目漱石.
・せっかく・・・のに: When used with the adverbial conjunctive particle のに meaning “even though,” the effort that the agent has gone through is ultimately not honored for what the agent that it was worth, and when said from the perspective of an onlooker, it could be used in a rather mocking tone. Or, if it is said by the agent personally, then it may indicate shame for having done so much for so little.
This grammar pattern may also be altered to use せっかくの with its nominal role when said noun it attaches to is then followed by なのに．
12a. Even though I went through the effort of taking time off, I haven’t had a single drop of alcohol.
12b. Even this is my long-awaited time off, I haven’t had a single drop of alcohol.
Although I spent so much energy writing my essay, it got completely erased!
Even though I went through the effort to make it, am I the one at fault for being irritated?
(I/we) took all this time sneaking in here and there ain’t even any treasure!
・せっかく・・・から: In this pattern, せっかく is purely adverbially, and it is also a direct reflection of the overall meaning of the word itself. As the conjunctive particle から is used, it always has a positive nuance to it as it is more so than persuading (勧誘) someone to do something for the sake of it being truly worth it.
・せっかくだから・・・: Although seeing せっかく paired with conjunctive particle phrases such as から is incredibly common, when there is nothing in between and you are simply left with せっかくだから. The only difference is that, grammatically speaking, it functions as a quasi-predicative phrase (擬似述語).
せっかく still refers to that great pain and/or long-awaited situation, which then persuades the listener in the sense of “we might as well do it then” sort of scenario.
Particle Note: When the particle ～｛の・ん｝だから is used over ～だから, the speaker is emphasizing the agent’s effort (whether it be the speaker or listener) as more than enough reason to go ahead and go along with the suggestion that follows. Not doing so would just be もったいない (a waste).
Since you’ve gone through all the trouble to come to America, please stay for a while.
Since I went through the trouble to make it, please try to eat it.
You might as well eat up!
You might as well (take up the opportunity)!
・せっかくだが・・・: In contrast to the phrase above, when the speaker realizes the fortunate circumstance may not occur again but still feels the need to decline the offer, せっかくだが・・・ can be used, and of course, it is also possible to state what exactly is being declined in between せっかく and the conjunctive particle が.
Thank you, but don’t trouble.
Thank you for the opportunity, but I’m going to decline this time around.
The Adverb わざわざ
When spelled in Kanji as 態々, it becomes apparent that わざわざ is related to the adverb 態と meaning “intentionally.” Japanese dictionaries list two distinct nuances of わざわざ that often go hand in hand.
Not doing something else subsequently but particularly doing something for that very purpose.
Deliberately doing something that one doesn’t have to do.
The first meaning is particularly similarly to せっかく, but any opportunity that arises from concentrating on one outcome is not only well deserved in the agent’s mind, but if that feeling isn’t reciprocated, it could say a lot of about the standing between the doer and any recipient.
Because of its second meaning, its use in polite speech is rather limited to contexts in which the speaker words the situation just right so as not to unintentionally belittle the doer’s act of goodwill. Tone is crucial to using this word safely.
Aside from basic grammatical differences between せっかく and わざわざ, the former being an adverbial noun and the latter solely being an adverb, whenever either are possible, せっかく can refer to opportunities that either come about from someone’s effort as well as those rare opportunities that naturally occur, わざわざ always relates to something that the agent went through a concerted effort to do.
I’m sorry that you’ve gone out of your way like this.
I’m sorry for having you come all the way while you’re busy.
I went all the way to Kitami to eat yakiniku.
It’s alright for you to not go all the way home to get it.
Thank you very much for coming for me although you are quite busy.
My coworker irked me for going out of his way to tell me of a small mistake that I made but had already noticed and fixed.
What’s up with these women that go out of their way telling everyone, “I just came back from Europe” or “I just bought a brand-name purse” when no one is even listening to them?
29a. I went out of my way to make this, so be sure to eat it all!
29b. I went out of my way to make this, so be sure to eat it all!
Sentence Note: Although the difference between せっかく and わざわざ isn’t absolutely clear from the English translation, 29a gives off the nuance of how the speaker doesn’t want the listener to miss out on this opportunity, whereas 29b makes it feel like the speaker won’t forgive the listener if all that work isn’t properly recognized.
Even afterward, (the person) has always gone out of his way from Fukuoka (to me) to cut his hair!
Men who go out of their way to talk basically have a liking for the person they’re talking to.
Thanks for your trouble!
Sentence Note: When わざわざ is used directly with words like ありがとう showing thanks, the reason for the thanks is omitted.