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English translation: amaeru: acting /treating like a baby

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00:53 Jul 31, 2001
Japanese to English translations [PRO]
Japanese term or phrase: amae
The famous word for the emotion and or action that the psychologist Takeo Doi claims is impossible to render into English. Is "amae" really untranslatable?

The standard translation of this term is "dependency" but this is neither an emotion nor an action so it seems particularly inappropriate.
I would also be interested in suggestions for "amaeru." The context is the description of Japanese culture, such as "Amae is important in Japanese culture", or "the Japanese are know for their propensity to amaeru"

I am looking for a word however informal that conveys the meaning even if it has a different connotive valence in English, such as "to brown nose" or "fawn" for amaeru (?).
Timothy Takemoto
Local time: 10:17
English translation:amaeru: acting /treating like a baby
Explanation:
An interesting question! I think it has a stronger meaning than simple 'dependency' although whether there is a single word in English that describes it is another matter. The acts of 'giving' amaeru & 'receiving' amaeru are also distinct.
'giving': babying, spoiling, treating like a child, sucking up to, fawning on, flattering.
'receiving': acting like a baby, being foolishly & unnecessarily dependent, behaving like a spoilt child regardless of age, taking advantage of another's kindness, accepting false praise to make yourself feel better.
It reminds me of seeing drunken middle age salary men in bars with younger, female work colleagues who are speaking in girlish voices, trying to reassure the salarymen about his life, work, prowess etc!
Selected response from:

Louise Vaux
Grading comment
Similar to the other answer, but chosen because of the examples which are very moot to my current research - especialy "accepting false praise to make yourself feel better," and the last example. I wonder if others agree with this. But, by the way, I am not really sure what "giving amaeru" means, is it that it takes two to tango so that there is always a giver even when one says there is only "amaeru" going on, or is this "amaesaseru" or perhaps "amayakasu". The first option is interesting.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4Amaeru and Amaeseigetsu
naAmaeru - be a baby, expect leniencySheena Daswani
naamaeru: acting /treating like a babyLouise Vaux


  

Answers


5 hrs
amaeru: acting /treating like a baby


Explanation:
An interesting question! I think it has a stronger meaning than simple 'dependency' although whether there is a single word in English that describes it is another matter. The acts of 'giving' amaeru & 'receiving' amaeru are also distinct.
'giving': babying, spoiling, treating like a child, sucking up to, fawning on, flattering.
'receiving': acting like a baby, being foolishly & unnecessarily dependent, behaving like a spoilt child regardless of age, taking advantage of another's kindness, accepting false praise to make yourself feel better.
It reminds me of seeing drunken middle age salary men in bars with younger, female work colleagues who are speaking in girlish voices, trying to reassure the salarymen about his life, work, prowess etc!

Louise Vaux
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 8
Grading comment
Similar to the other answer, but chosen because of the examples which are very moot to my current research - especialy "accepting false praise to make yourself feel better," and the last example. I wonder if others agree with this. But, by the way, I am not really sure what "giving amaeru" means, is it that it takes two to tango so that there is always a giver even when one says there is only "amaeru" going on, or is this "amaesaseru" or perhaps "amayakasu". The first option is interesting.
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18 hrs
Amaeru - be a baby, expect leniency


Explanation:
Hello. As you probably know, the word amaeru is derived from 'amai' which is ofcourse 'sweet'. Amaeru would be the active form and 'amaya-kasu' would be behaviour that allows 'amae'
How about some of these definitions:
Amaya-kasu : over-indulge, coddle, be too lenient, pamper, spoil, be soft on.
Amaeru: (when work related) expecting leniency, indulgence, forgiveness for ones's blunders etc. (on a more personal basis) to be a baby (sometimes in a nice way), behave like a spoiled child.
The more I think about it, this is a tough one....Anyway, hope that helps.



    born and raised in Japan
Sheena Daswani
Local time: 14:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in JapaneseJapanese
PRO pts in pair: 4
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3051 days   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Amaeru and Amae


Explanation:
As a shakuhachi musician and as someone who had read Takeo Doi and worked in the field of psychology, I feel the need to enter an alternate explanation of amae and amaeru. First, let me say that I do not disagree with the present posts in terms of social-psychology. But there is a much deeper, more creative meaning that in some ways is equivalent to the English words " to intuitively understand" or the popular English phrase "to be in sync" or , even more, Robert Heinlein's science fiction word "grok" (from his book "Stranger in a Strange Land"). If one deconstructs the common word "understand", one sees that this word has a very strong relationship meaning that implies physical support, holding and providing a firm foundation. An interesting comparison with amaeru is with English child psychologist DW Winnicott's use of the terms "holding" and "facilitating environment" in describing the early mother-child relationship.
For a musician, this is the essence of what makes a band "swing" or "enter a groove" or not. The band members create a "facilitating environment" for each other, such that the creative whole becomes greater than the sum of the skills.

In both cases, mother-child and band, there is a mutual dependency on each other for one's individual fulfillment, along with a deep gratitude for such intuitive "knowing". In terms of the other references to journeymen in bars with young women, it is as if the men are saying :"You know I am better than what I seem. There is more to my 'soul' than my role in society suggests." It is this sense of sharing knowledge of a "greater wholeness" that amaeru seeks to express.

In the most ancient Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute) tradition, the music ("honkyoku") of the wandering monks ("komuso") of the oldest Meian-ji "sui-zen" tradition ("blowing meditation"), the ebb and flow of the rich "soft-edged" sounds of the bamboo flute (as contrasted with the "hard-edged" sounds of metal instruments) and the bending tonalities (think of a great slow blues guitar musician like Buddy Guy for an easy definition of "bending tonality") , along with the lack of a melodic line, creates just such a "facilitating environment" in which one is "awake" and aware, but not "taken" anywhere.

In sum, Amaeru is an expression of such a seemless, intuitive compatibllity and coherence, as expressed both in the mother-child dyad and the "creative space" of an artist.

Example sentence(s):
  • Amaeru is an expression of such a seemless, intuitive compatibllity and coherence, as expressed both in the mother-child dyad and the "creative space" of an artist
  • to be intuitively understood and, by that experience, made "whole"
seigetsu
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