Talk Like a Japanese Pirate with “Yagaru”

Jun 4 · 3 min read
You after you read this article

It’s been a while since I wrote any fun blogs about the Japanese language, so I figured the best way to warm up is to have a nice chat about one of the most fun words in Japanese: yagaru (やがる). Have you ever wanted to talk like an anime ruffian? Then this is your chance to learn how!

Yagaru means “to have the nerve to.” It is an auxiliary verb that attaches to the stem form* of another verb, which means that it is always part of a larger word. For example, the verb “to drink” (nomu) would connect to yagaru like so:

nomu -> nomi (stem) -> nomiyagaru (“to have the nerve to drink”)

Okay, great, but wouldn’t it be easier to just ignore this extra word? Of course it would, but that wouldn’t be near as fun and flavorful. Instead of “oh, you drank my orange juice” isn’t it more thrilling to say “I see you had the nerve to drink my orange juice, you bastard”?

Let’s take a closer look at a similar hypothetical situation.

My cake

Scoundrel Friend: eats my cake

Me, when I notice: おい、てめえよくも俺様のケーキを食いやがったな。(Oi, temee yokumo ore-sama no keiki o kuiyagatta na.)

Translation: “Hey, how dare you eat MY cake, you son of a bitch.”

Kuiyagatta is a combination of the verb kuu (a very casual way of saying “eat”) and the past tense of yagaru. This translation takes a few liberties, but I think it captures the intent of the Japanese pretty faithfully.

There are also a couple of other points that make the sentence aggressive. First, temee is a second person pronoun that is best thought of as a very rude version of “you,” certainly rude enough to warrant “you son of a bitch.” Also, the phrase yokumo is an emphatic phrase that has a “how dare you” sort of nuance to it, adding to the power of the yagaru verb at the end of the sentence. Finally, for good measure I used the first person pronoun ore-sama, which is pretty much only used by arrogant anime characters.

All of this is to say that if you want to sound like a swashbuckling angry sailor from a cartoon, or maybe an animated yakuza boss, now you know some of the basics. You’re welcome.

*) Technically yagaru can also attach to the te-form of verbs sometimes, but for the sake of simplicity, I chose to focus on the more common use of the stem form for this article. In either case, the meaning is the same. Be gone, pedants!

You’re reading AniTAY, a reader-run blog whose writers love everything anime related. To join in on the fun, check out our website, visit our official subreddit, follow us on Twitter, or give us a like on our Facebook page.


Everything Anime and Beyond