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I sometimes hear a phrase 仕事があれば used in situations where a freelancer or an artist says something that in English would be "if you pay me I will do it" (まぁ、仕事があれば〜), "if you pay me I will go" (仕事があれば、どこへでも行く).

However I can't find any dictionary or usage example in which 仕事 would be likened to the actual compensation for work. Work, task, duty, assignment - all refer to an obligation of a person doing the actual work, but not the person who orders the work to be done. These two are closely related, but does 仕事 always mean a work done for a compensation?

Am I interpreting the phrase 仕事があれば correctly?

The reason I am asking is that usually I heard it is spoken with a grin or it caused a few chuckles around. Something unusual for a dry, literal interpretation.

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仕事 just means job or task, paid or unpaid. Whether it means a paid job depends on the context.

If a freelancer says "これは遊びではなくて仕事だ", this 仕事 definitely refers to a paid job. If the same person says "家に帰って猫に餌をやる仕事がある", this 仕事 is of course unpaid.

The reason I am asking is that usually I heard it is spoken with a grin or it caused a few chuckles around. Something unusual for a dry, literal interpretation.

That's just because 仕事 obviously refers to a paid job in that context, and "if you pay me" is implied. A job officially offered to a freelancer or a professional artist is always with a compensation... well, at least in Japan.

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  • So does it sound to Japanese ears like soliciting money?
    – macraf
    Nov 3, 2015 at 23:12
  • It depends. If a greedy person say this with a grin, yes he's talking about money. If an earnest person say the same thing seriously, it's out of the sense of responsibility.
    – naruto
    Nov 4, 2015 at 1:31
  • Just something I would add to this response. In Japan you don't just "pay someone", you "give them a job". Saying something like "If you pay me" in japan is impolite and almost makes it sound like that person may not pay you if s/he requests for the job.
    – ShikiGami
    Nov 4, 2015 at 6:05
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Close. 仕事 means work, job, task, and etc, or workmanship, and never means compensation for a job or work done.

Consider someone looking for a job. "If they pay me" is close but a bit different from "if they have a job for me". Right? So, 仕事があれば, because of the definition of 仕事, therefore is a lot closer to the latter.

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