This is kind of a random post, but I learned a new phrase today, and I thought I’d share it.

My girlfriend was doing the dishes, and I went over and stood next to her. Not to help, of course, because I despise doing dishes (though, yeah, I’d help if she asked).

Anyways, she was like, “Why are you standing there?” Which, in Japanese is:

なんで突っ立ってんの?
nande tsuttatten no?

突っ立つ (つったつ) means “to stand around” or “to stand in one place doing nothing in particular.” The reason that we add the extra little っ into the middle of たつ is because 〜ってん = っている (the present progressing, yeah? “standING around”).

Well, I had no idea why I was standing there, so I said (in English), “I’m just here for moral support.”

She didn’t know what “moral support” meant in English, and I didn’t know the matching Japanese phrase, which, it turns out, is…

心の支え
kokoro no sasae

As you might have expected, they don’t use this phrase in the same way that I said it, but you could use it more serious situations.

友達の存在はいつも私の心の支えになっている。
tomodachi no sonzai wa itsumo watashi no kokoro no sasae ni natteiru.
My friends are always there to lean on.

Okay, maybe that’s not the best translation of all time. Translated directly (直訳すると), it’d be something like “My friends’ existence is always there to support my heart.”

As a side note, it’d be okay to switch out 心の / kokoro no (“heart’s,” the way people use it in poems and love songs and whatnot) with 精神的な / seishinteki na (“mental; emotional”).

So in the example above, it should be no problem to say:

友達の存在はいつも私の精神的な支えになっている。
tomodachi no sonzai wa itumo watashi no seishinteki na sasae ni natteiru.
My friends are always there to lean on.

Actually, if you look up “moral support” on the site Honyaku Star (a site I just discovered recently), it always pulls up sentences with 精神的. Also, sometimes, instead of 支え / sasae (“support”) it also pulls up sentences that say 援助 / enjo (“help; assistance; support”) and 支援 / shien (“support”).

Rei thinks that it’s strange to say 援助 in this case, because that should be support in the form of a physical thing–like money or food. She said 支援 sounded strange here, too. So, let’s stick with 支え, for now.

She is also of the opinion that 心の支え is more common than 精神的な支え, but she’s not totally sure.

Anyways, if I wanted to say “I’m just here for moral support, maybe what I should have said is:

ただ心の支えになるために。
kokoro no sasae ni naru tame ni.
[I’m here] Just for moral support.

ただ精神的な支えになるために。
tada seishinteki na enjo wo ataeru tame ni.
[I’m here] Just for moral support.

I should note, however, that this kind of humor doesn’t translate very well into Japanese culture. According to Rei’s explanation:

そもそも「なんで突っ立ってんの?」の答えは「わかんない」
somo somo “nande tsuttatten no?” no kotae wa “wakannai”
In the first place, the [natural] answer to “Why are you standing there?” would be “I don’t know.”

So, yeah, maybe this entire article was pointless! Sorry, guys.

Comments, questions, requests–whatever–are welcome below. Also, for me, 皆のコメントは心の支えになっている。

Good luck with your studies,

Niko

Here’s this, also (yay)…

Niko

Yo! I'm Niko, the founder of NihongoShark. I'm also a Japanese translator, writer, and all-around language nerd.

I created this site to help as many people master Japanese (any language, really) as possible.

Uh, what else? Well... I live in Tokyo, Bangkok, Sapporo, Saigon, San Diego, Tokyo, Chiang Mai, Portland, Oregon! So if anyone wants to meet up for a refreshing nama beer, I'm probably down for that. Or a coffee. Learning Japanese is tricky-tikki-tavi. But we're in this together. ファイト!

Good luck with your studies!

Niko

p.s. If you like my articles, you may very well love my daily lessons.