Using ‘きを つけて’ needs to ‘be careful’ for Japanese ppl?

Using ‘be careful’ word needs to be careful?

Be careful!

Today, we are going to see how the word ‘ be careful’ used by Japanese people usually causes miscommunications with foreigners.

Here is a dialogue between John and Tanaka where they first met.

John: Hi, uh, is it your first time to attend the party?

Tanaka: Yes, nice to meet you.

John: こんにちは。おげんきですか。Now I am learning Japanese language.

Tanaka:I see…you know what, you should not use おげんきですか to strangers like me, and also the word おげんきですか sometimes makes people upset. Be careful(with big smile)


Why Tanaka was using ‘ be careful ‘? The mistake he made was even not a big dale. Actually おげんきですか is used to the people who you have met before,and which literally means ‘ are you healthy?’ so maybe using to the sick people is not a good choice.

But why ‘ be careful’ word was used by Tanaka?

Actually we have a word 「きを つけて」 in Japanese which was translated from many kind and levels of suggestion words in English. Which means Japanese has only one applicable word as 「きを つけて」for many suggestion words in English.

Such as…

Mind it!

keep it in your mind.

watch out!

watch your mouth!

take care!

Be careful!

Probably Tanaka tried to use some neutral suggestion word but just translated it to common phrase from Japanese word. The strong suggestion word made John confused and upset.

Please always keep it in your mind that reading context is important. That will show you the meaning, like the big smile Tanaka had after the conversation!

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