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Friday, November 2, 2007

一刀両断

いっ とう りょう だん
i ttou ryou dan

Super early post, cause I'll have NO time today during or after work!

Today’s definition is odd if you look at the kanji independently: one, sword, both, and failure. But 一刀 can be read as “one blow of the sword” and 両断 is a bisection.

Definition: 一太刀で物をまっ二つに切るように、きっぱり物事の処置をつけること。
Translations:
1. To cut cleanly in half with a single stroke of the sword.
2. To act decisively and powerfully
3. To cut the Gordian knot
4. To divide things into categories of black and white for the purposes of making a decision

I actually learned this one in its literal sense during a post-Obon barbecue last August. I was invited to play suika-wari with a group of Japanese men, which is exactly like bashing a pinata, except that instead of using a pinata, you use a watermelon, and instead of hanging it in a tree, you put it on the floor, and instead of it being filled with candy, it’s just a watermelon. Anyway, when it was my turn to swing blindly at it with a broom stick, I got all dramatic and brought my “sword” straight down, quite coincidentally, into the exact center of the watermelon. When I took off my blindfold, it had been halved as cleanly as one can possibly halve a watermelon with a broomstick, and both sides of it were still standing upright.

But it’s also used (outside of melon-thwacking and manga) for making sweeping decisions and slice-y actions. I’d be tempted to say that you could use it as “to cut through the red tape,” but I don’t think that happens here…

The picture is 言葉遊び (a play on words). It’s a literal sword-blow and a call to action to stop the rampant use of steroids in the world of competitive kendo.

例文:私はとても心配してたけど、結局いろいろ悩まずに一刀両断して、日本に引っ越すことにした。
I was worried about a lot of things, but in the end I stopped stressing out and decided once and for all to move to Japan.

9 comments:

BilabialBoxing said...

Fascinating. You could make a book out of this stuff! Unless you're just stealing it from a book in the first place.

Nirav said...

1) The 刀 in your example sentence has turned into 途.

2) This story about you splitting the watermelon, as Brett and I discussed last night, just keeps getting more and more ridiculous.

3) My example sentence for the day:

ポール!違う!君は、もっと決断力がネセサリーだ!一刀両断!

Paul! That's all wrong! You need to work on your decisiveness! Just do it!

Claytonian said...

一刀両断して should probably be 一刀両断にして (don't worry, it took a nihonjin a second to decide if it was ネセサリー)
mine:
両方とも愛着があったが、すぐにどっちの猫を食べるかを一刀両断に決めた。

See it's a play on words, cause you gotta cut kitties to eat them. Incidentally, I am going to hell.

AzzidisRidden said...

Colin,

There are tons of books of yojijukugo out there. I have one made for Japanese elementary school students, and there's a woman that I have eikaiwa with and she's teaching me two per week. I think they're really interesting too.

AzzidisRidden said...

Clay,

Internet research yields a lot of native examples of use with するor にする. I think either is okay.

Claytonian said...

yeah I googled it too. I just think since you are saying you decided, and it is not a suru-verb, ni suru makes more grammatical sense, but I doubt anybody will care but me.

Defendership said...

ブラインドヴォートでありえねえ死活問題を解決しやすくなる。その秘密兵器はジェフの一刀両断の感じだな。

The blind vote makes resolving life-or-death decisions a piece of cake. That secret attack is definitely Jeff's patented problem-solver.

Anonymous said...

もしBrat Pittが 私をデートに誘っても 一刀両断で 断ります!!! maybe.......

Anonymous said...

it was me. muah!!!