Two Japanese-fluent characters in an English novel I'm reading are talking about a specific heart problem one character concealed from medical exams. That character is requesting the second character keep this secret, lest they be kicked off the mission.

The second character drops briefly into Japanese:

"Watakushi no doryo wa, wakarimasu," Nicole said kindly, changing into Japanese to show sympathy for her colleague's anguish.

Both characters are fluent, and I believe the writer was as well.

One of the problems here is whether "doryo" should be written どりょ or どりょう - this would help with translation. However, none of the translation services I've tried actually seem to translate this in any way which makes sense. The closest I've gotten from Google has been "magnanimity" - but I don't think this makes contextual sense.

What is the meaning of this statement, and how should "doryo" be written in hiragana?

  • 4
    I don't think the edit to the title ("doryo" -> "douryou") is appropriate here. "doryo" is the spelling in the quoted fragment and it should be preserved.
    – Szymon
    Apr 9, 2014 at 20:58
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    I don't think this author is fluent. The sentence is far too formal compared to the situation, and looks like a 'borrowed from a textbook for beginners' one to me. I suspect the author actually has little knowledge about Japanese... And anyway, I can't make sense out of it. Doryo might possibly be either [度量]{どりょう} or [同僚]{どうりょう}, but neither seems to make the sentence understandable.
    – isayamag
    Dec 21, 2014 at 7:49

4 Answers 4


It is likely [同僚]{どう・りょう} which means "colleague"/"coworker".


You can see the Turkish(?!) version of this online here: https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=xbzji0dHTHcC&pg=PA65&lpg=PA65&dq=Watakushi+no+doryo+wa,+wakarimasu,&source=bl&ots=0RCiBfH12e&sig=laPoZJTXNBqwDkwM8Ap9LPbBLz8&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=fIqWVLi-GoKtmAWU5YHQCw&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

Lo and behold, it's written dôryô with circumflex (perhaps because the Turkish printers didn't have macrons).

I can't find any evidence that Arthur C Clarke spoke Japanese. I don't think it is profitable to try to understand this in Japanese, you have to think what the English would be that he was trying to translate, so I think this is just:

"My colleague, I understand"

I ought to have a stab at translating it into Japanese. Something like this perhaps?

Yoku wakatteiru, yo, Hakamatsu-san.

(Not sure if this is the right name of the person she is talking to.)


I'm reading Rama II and just came to this. Asked my wife about it. The word doryo means "magnitude, weight," or in this case "capacity, caliber." She had difficulty explaining the meaning of this phrase. She says it sounds very "old" and the meaning doesn't really fit the circumstance of the passage.

But what it seems she is saying is something like: "I know my own capacity and cannot change how I will respond." Basically a humble way of saying that she can only be who she is, so she cannot overlook his health issue even though going to Rama means everything to him.

  • 1
    Sounds more like 度量 to me.
    – user4032
    Dec 21, 2014 at 9:20

This is kind of a messed up translation. It means "My colleague understands," but she's probably trying to say "My colleague, I understand." In Japanese you don't usually use terms of address unless trying to get someone's attention, or you are an anime character talking to your similarly hulking brother.

The best translation for, "My colleague, I understand," is:

分かった or 分かった、はかまつさん

  • Can someone explain why this got downvoted? I would like to avoid making the mistake again.
    – user8009
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:10
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    I did not downvote, but my best guess is that 分かった is "understand" more in the sense of "got it" (了解) or perhaps "comprehend" (理解). On the other hand, "I understand, my colleague" is more like "I understand (your situation and I feel for you.)" (同情).
    – blutorange
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:33
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    That could very well be the reason. But this is in response to him asking her not to tell anyone, right? She's saying "Okay, I won't tell anyone."
    – user8009
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:37
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    Well, I read the question again and I agree, 分かった us what's meant meant in this context. So take a +1 from me, forget about the SAD (stupid anonymous downvoter) and have a happy Christmas. ; )
    – blutorange
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:43

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