4

I've normally seen it being used in past tense, e.g.

「我慢した―があった」

However, I'm not sure how to correctly interpret a sentence like:

「生きている―がない」

I've come across this definition:

期待できるだけの値うち。 (sense two in 大辞泉)

Assuming 期待できる is used to express a strong possibility or hopeful feeling and だけの + 値うち is used to gauge the worth of the attached rel. clause (I've only seen だけの being used to express sufficiency before, so I'm not sure if that's correct), does a sentence like 「生きている―がない」 mean 'there is no value in expecting/hoping to live'?

If I stumbled badly at some point (or numerous points, probably) in this chain of logic I'd be grateful if you could point out where it happened.

5

As a side note, 広辞苑 states:

かい 【詮・甲斐】 : 行動の結果としてのききめ。効果。また、してみるだけの値打ち。

I believe your assumption

Assuming 期待できる is used to express a strong possibility or hopeful feeling and だけの + 値うち is used to gauge the worth of the attached rel. clause

is correct, but the overall interpretation is slightly different. Using the definition you quoted, "生きている甲斐がない" can be interpreted as "生きていることに、期待できるだけの価値がない"(*1), which can be roughly translated into "Nothing valuable is going to happen in my life". If I allow myself to be informal due to my not being fluent, it's like "Yes, I'm alive. What can I expect from it because I'm alive? (There should be something, right?) Nothing, nothing truly valuable!"

新和英大辞典, a good Japanese-English dictionary from 研究社, has

Life [is meaningless, is not worth living, has no point]

for "生きる甲斐がない". I think these are quite good translations.

So yes, this phrase is used by people who are unhappy, and who don't expect to be happy in the future.

(Careful : anything below is my subjective point of view)

It is important though, that the speaker is unhappy because of the lack of some essential value in his/her life, and not because of excessive amount of sadness. This phrase is sometimes used with "without you/her", to express how deeply the speaker cares about him/her and how crucial his/her existence is, to the point it affects the meaning of his/her whole life.


(*1) : This phrase is can be a little confusing --- without "、", this can also be interpreted as "「生きていることに期待できる」だけの価値がない", "there is no value good enough for me to expect a good deal from my life", which does not really make sense without context. I used the phrase as "生きていることに、「期待出来るだけの価値」がない" here.

  • I believe terminally sick persons can use this phrase too, but when doing so, that's because he is deprived of some essential value by the sickness. – Yosh Feb 22 '15 at 14:32
  • "there is no value worth expecting in (my) life/ living life" seems ungrammatical as English to me. Would "Nothing valuable is going to happen in my life" express the same thing you're trying to say there? – virmaior Feb 22 '15 at 14:52
  • @virmaior Thanks for spotting this! (I've been away for a while, sorry.) I've edited the answer. The expression you proposed is close enough, but I feel not exactly the same -- I'll try to find an even better expression. – Yosh Mar 1 '15 at 9:26
-2

However, I'm not sure how to correctly interpret a sentence like:

「生きている―がない」

does a sentence like 「生きている―がない」 mean 'there is no value in expecting/hoping to live'?

I think in English it means more like "there is no value to live my life"

There is an origin of this word 甲斐, but I would dare to omit the explanation since it is far way old and it's going to be long.

  • So, in other words, does the person saying this imply that he no longer holds any value in living his life (e.g. a person who isn't happy and doesn't expect to ever become happy)? As opposed to have given up on life for external reasons (e.g. a terminally sick person), that is, not holding the expectation itself to have any value? Could you please clarify the kind of person that would say this. – cirno Feb 21 '15 at 1:58
  • I'm answering since I happened to see your question. ( It looks like I am banned here. ) Regarding your "So, in other words, does the person saying this imply that he no longer holds any value in living his life (e.g. a person who isn't happy and doesn't expect to ever become happy)?" It is yes. Please refer here whatimi.blog135.fc2.com/blog-entry-529.html 甲斐 is defined as you had quoted from 大辞泉, "物事をやり遂げようとする気力、根性。" Translated "Force, determination, or courage etc to accomplish something" Therefore, when you say 生きている甲斐が無い – Kentaro Feb 22 '15 at 3:32
  • is going to be in English "I have no force, courage to live my life anymore". I do not know why you are comparing the word to 値打ち, but 値打ち, please refer here kotobank.jp/word/… is the word to "A MEASUREMENT or even a value=price of something". It looks like to me when you are converting the words to English, you are confused between "the value" and "courage and determination". Please be reminded – Kentaro Feb 22 '15 at 3:38
  • Since any language is not clearly translatable like A=B, PLEASE understand if you can not understand PRECISELY from one language to another, please do not be frustrated. We have lived in a different environment for a long time, so sometimes or quite often, you can NOT compare one language to another like math A=B. – Kentaro Feb 22 '15 at 3:42
  • I have always wondered here, the Japanese learners, first and foremost, are not understanding Japanese is an an agglutinative language. Since English is north German origin, as it is demonstrated that Netherlanders' TOEFL score average is 100/120, while ours is 70/120. From this thing, you can guess language is not math. For French or Germans, probably more like math to English, ours are totally NOT. – Kentaro Feb 22 '15 at 3:54

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