Some of the most difficult words to translate are those that are context sensitive, or need wildly different translations depending on context. I'll take a look at four tricky Japanese → English interpretations in context today: ① もったいない (mottainai), ② しょうがない (shou ga nai, also 仕方ない shikata nai), ③ 面倒くさい (mendoukusai), and the pervasive Japanese ④ よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu)。

① 三連休が仕事で潰れそう。もったいない...
I'm going to lose my whole three day weekend to work. What a waste.
Alternatively: What a shame.



あなたは私にはもったいない。
You're too good for me.
You deserve better (than me).

② 買えそうな車は皆しょぼいけど、まぁ、しょうがない。(=仕方ない)
The only cars I can afford are all beaters. Oh well. That's the way it goes.
Alternatively: Nothing I can do about it.
beaters → piles of junk, clunkers, POSes

また寝坊かよ。しょうがないやつだな、お前は。
You overslept again?! You're hopeless.
Alternatively: You're unbelievable. / What am I going to do with you?

怒ってもしょうがないんだよ。あのクラスは静かにしてくれない。
It's no use getting angry. That class never quiets down.
Alternatively: Don't bother getting angry.

③ 毎日しないといけないんだ。面倒くさいなあ...
I have to do it every day? What a pain.
Alternatively: What a bother.

あいつは何でも否定的にとる。面倒くさいやつだなぁ。
He takes everything negatively. He's so obnoxious to be around.
Alternatively: He's such a pain. / I can't stand him.

④ 予約をキャンセルする場合は、前日までに連絡してください。よろしくお願いします。
Cancellations must be made at least one day in advance. Your understanding is appreciated.
Alternatively: Thank you (for your understanding).

一昨日こちらに引越してきた山田太郎と申します。よろしくお願いします。
My name's Taro Yamada. I just moved here the day before yesterday. It's nice to meet you.
Alternatively: I'm looking forward to working with you. / I'm looking forward to being a student here. (etc.)

These contexts and translations are not exhaustive for any of the introduced phrases; however, they may provide an idea of possible ranges in meaning and usage.
Have any other suggestions for these phrases? Please share in the comments below!

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