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In a number of shows, "I won't forgive you" or some variation is used as a threat. Rukia uses it when she is trying to keep Ichigo to follow her into the Soul Society, saying, "If you follow me, I will never forgive you." It is used similarly in other shows. In Vampire Knight, Kaien Cross says to Kaname that, if he makes Yuuki cry, he will never forgive him.

This doesn't seem to be used in Western television, or at least not to the same amount as it is in anime. Is this a part of Japanese culture or is this something that originated in anime/manga? If it did originate in anime/manga, where did it first appear?

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It's a culture thing, and it's kinda like a fixed phrase, which is not translated accurately into English. If you can understand a little Chinese, its true meaning is 我饶不了你, in which 我(means I) 饶不了(means won't forgive) 你(means you), and the meaning is perfectly translated.

Its true meaning in English is more like this: I will not absolve you from guilt or I will not remit your punishment! (but these are too strong)

For your better understanding, this phrase suggests that if you do anything unpleasant to me, I will remember that one and find a way to make you pay.

PS: Even so it's supposed to be a threat, but this phrase is used between "frienemies" in many cases. For a instance, A doesn't want his partner-like rival B risks his(B's) life to save him(A), then A may say I will never forgive you if you risk your own life to save mine.

  • 3
    It's true that Chinese has a similar phrase, but I don't think there's a direct connection between this Chinese phrase and 許さない, the Japanese word that's always being translated this way. – Mark S. Dec 15 '13 at 19:35
15

It really comes down to awkward translation.

許さない (yurusanai) is the word being used. This is the negative form of the Japanese verb for "to forgive", which also has other nuances and can mean to permit or accept something. Despite it seeming odd this is a natural enough expression in Japanese; however, it presents a bit of a dilemma for translators. Some will try and translate literally despite the awkwardness, while others might try and come up with a more natural phrase for the situation.

Other possible translation styles could be things like

  • I won't stand for...
  • ...is unacceptable.
  • This time it's personal! (a bit of a stretch but in the context of a prelude to a fight it pretty much serves the same function)
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    I feel like in 9 out of 10 cases, "I won't forgive you" as a translation of 許さない should be considered a mistranslation for "I won't let you get away with this." – Mark S. Dec 15 '13 at 19:33
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My interpretation of the phrase "I'll never forgive you" isn't nearly as analytical as the others. As you know a lot of Japanese phases are said differently in English(can't think of an example). Anyway even after the more precise translation I still didn't get it until I read a fanmade Manga then I was like "okay so them saying that is the equivalent of this." That being "I'll never forgive you." This being "I hate you" or "I'll kill you." That's what I think it is.

  • I'm not sure I understand your answer. Are you saying that they chose that phrase not because it's a translation, but simply because the meaning of "I won't forgive you" it fits the scenario (even if it's not a common English phrase)? – Killua Aug 27 '16 at 16:56

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