痛い (itai): Simple. When it’s found in a full sentence, it means “painful” or something “hurts” or is “sore.” No room for discussion. But there is one major situation where the translation strays. And since pain, and expression of that pain happens quite often, it’s good to be clear.
Situation: saying 痛い in quick reaction to hurting yourself.
The standard definition doesn’t really make sense here. Can you imagine experiencing some accident, and in that painful moment saying “that was painful” or “that hurt.” If you can imagine this, you are a very calm person and I’m extremely jealous.
痛い！ is an exclamation. So people further extend the translation to “Ouch” or “Ow.”
So when I hear 痛い！ I think of:
(Growl and/or snarl)
And a variation of other angry words.
Let’s take a look at a common example of an 痛い situation. What would you put in the speech bubbles in English?
So I ask you: Do you use the word “ouch!” for the 痛い situation when sudden pain happens? What do you think is the most appropriate translation?
Scene from the manga: 僕だけがいない街
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.