Mx. Jack Beloit (sonnekinde) wrote in linguaphiles,
Mx. Jack Beloit

Translation of a t-shirt

Can someone tell me what this t-shirt says? (I think it's Chinese or Japanese.) Possible translations I've come across online are "danger" and "terrible" but also "big changes" or "drastic change".

ETA: I mean the writing on the t-shirt the guy on the right is wearing.
Tags: whatdoesthissay
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I clicked your link but it led me to a TV show screencap. :)
The guy on the right hand side of the picture is wearing a T-shirt with writing on it, which appears to be in Japanese or Chinese.
Thanks, I see it now. Perhaps my screen is too dark, it wasn't immediately obvious.
Sorry, should have specified. Person on the right is wearing a blue t-shirt with Chinese or Japanese writing on it and "serious" underneath.
No worries! Sorry I didn't notice it there.
Looks like the simplified 大變 da4bian4 which means big changes.
That would be very appropriate considering the character and the events of the episode.
In Japanese it says 大変 (たいへん) 'taihen' and is largely dependant on context. It translates literally as 'great change', but conversationally, it's used in many ways. It can be used to describe a very big deal, an impressive occasion, a disaster (something like an earthquake, where a great change has occurred, in a bad way) a job that requires a great effort... etc. “大変!” or “大変だ!” can also be used as an exclamation, similar to 'oh my God', or 'holy crap', when something huge has occurred, and you can't think of a better reaction at the time.

I suspect, knowing the character, they've used this to mean 'very big deal' in the sense of an important person, but haven't quite got the nuance right, or have taken the kanji too literally. Hope that helps.
That is very interesting, thank you for the explanation!
It's a complex word, really. Here's an article that might be interesting, if you want more detail:

Also, I only just noticed the 'serious' underneath, in English. So it also could even be as simple as 'very serious', as 'taihen' can take on the meaning of 'very' in certain sentences.
That definitely explains why I kept finding different translations of the shirt online; everyone seemed to be saying something different but now I understand the word is just very complex. The region 2 DVDs I own don't have the commentary track, but from what I've read of it the creators went with the meaning of "terrible" as a subtle nod to the character's hidden, ah... "qualities".
I mostly use it to mean "it's difficult" lol