Now Featuring 1級 Grammar, Everyday Japanese That You Won't Find in the Book, and Language and Cultural Trivia!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Japanese Language Trivia of the Day:

When I was a kid, I used to drink a lot of ginger ale. Before I ever knew what 'ginger' or 'ale' was, I started drinking it and "ginger ale" existed in my mind as a single unit of meaning: it was a fizzy drink, it was the color of Coke mixed with water, and it was the only thing besides tomato juice at my grandmother's house.

It wasn't until I was 19 years old, and eating sushi in America for the umpteenth time when I had the revelation that the very same ginger I was using to cleanse my palette between pieces of raw fish, was possibly related to "ginger ale," and when it hit me I was like, "Whoa." And then I moved on quickly.

What I'm trying to say is that learning Japanese is EXACTLY like that. Well, maybe not exactly. But... pretty much. For example, when I first got to Japan. I knew the words 「楽しい」 and 「おいしい」 as descriptive adjectives, and when I first heard someone say 「楽しんで」, I thought, "Hey, that's neat."

For about three weeks, Japanese people who came to my house to eat let me continue to say 「おいしんで」 before someone finally explained to me that 「楽しんで」 only works because there's a 「楽しむ」 verb.

Point is, when you learn a language through immersion, first you hear something, then you take it in, and only later, if you're lucky, do you start to figure out how the language works.

So today's post is something that was a bit of an embarrassing revelation for me, mostly because it reflects on how much I didn't know.

One of the first words that I learned in the Japanese language class I shared with the other Yo-ji guys, Nirav and Brett, was 臭い (くさい: kusai), because our teacher, Ogawa-sensei, used to call Brett a 臭いヤンキー all the time. When somebody in the class translated it (she didn't speak any English), it came out as "stinky." And we thought that was hilarious, Brett actually being such a foul-smelling punk-ass. The more subtle connotations of "shady" and "suspicious" didn't come across at the time. He just smelled bad.

Later, I learned the word メンドクサイ (mendokusai) as a completely separate entity, without the advantage of knowing the words 面倒 (めんどう; mendou) or 面倒 (めんどい; mendoi). The second means "troublesome" or "bothersome," and the first means "difficulty" or "trouble," but it can also mean "attention" or "care," as in 「子供の面倒: caring for children.」 So even though I knew from the beginning that メンドクサイ meant "pain in the ass," it wasn't until much later that I realized the connection. メンドクサイ is used to refer to something that requires so much care and attention that it reeks.

At least that's how I think of it. Some websites will define 臭い as functioning like ~らしい, but when I realized how many of the words made with 臭い lend themselves to a "stinks" interpretation, I was sold on it.

Warning: Just like メンドクサイ, all of these words are subject to the rules of Japanese profanity. In other words, the tone and force with which you say them can turn them into something very offensive.


reeks of lies.

Not only can this be used literally, to call b.s. on someone, but it's also used for things that have a generally phony air. Japanese people might say it about every overseas sushi restaurant run by non-Japanese. Or they might say it about some of the tacky, tourist-trappy re-creations of overseas destinations right here in Japan, like fake Venice or fake Easter Island.


stinks of inexperience; tastes too strongly of raw herbs; grassy-smelling; smells like blue?

No, it doesn't actually have anything to do with this awesome cheese, but I've heard it said of bad green curry, and of things too heavy on cilantro; I've even heard it explained as "緑の味がするっという意味." Coming from a culture that doesn't consider colors to smell or taste of anything, that didn't help much, but it's not that much of a stretch to see where this comes from. When you take into account the fact that green and blue are often interchangeable in Japanese, you can also understand how inexperience and general newbism might be labeled "blue" as well.


fishy; raw; smelling of fish or blood; undercooked.

Pretty straight forward, but even cooked food can be 生臭い。In America, we often say that you can tell when fish is no good when it tastes or smells like fish. In Japan, with its preference for 繊細な flavors, when meat still tastes too much like blood or meat, it's 生臭い。That's why many Japanese people do things like wash chicken before they cook it or soak raw pork in sake, to remove residual odors.


smells like dudes.

I was told that this could be used to describe things like locker rooms, sausage parties, or the sports club shed, or a bachelor pad. But when I asked what you would describe with 女臭い, I was told "Nothing. Women don't smell." I wasn't about to argue with this kind of statement, but even if I was inclined to try to find support for a contradictary position, researching post for The Daily has taught me better than to try looking up "smells like women" on the dirty, filthy, 男臭い internet. (koff koff)



あほ you might recognize if you're an anime or manga fan. Someone else might want to confirm this for me, but I think it's a convention that when someone does something stupid or embarrassing in one of these mediums, nearby crows start cawing 「アホアホ.」 Other than sounding vaguely like a bird noise, あほ means "fool," "idiot," or "jackass." あほくさい is simply "ridiculous."


stinks like foreigners.

For those foreigners who take 外人 to be an unforgivable xenophobic slur, this one's gonna hurt even more. But this is interesting: despite confirming with 3 or 4 immediately available native speakers that this is something that gets said, a Google search for 外人くさい gives very few direct results. Some of the results that it does yield though range from offensive, to rational (the first response, here), to HILARIOUS (You've GOT to check out otesu kakemasuさん's comment on this page)!

If you know any other good くさい expressions, tack 'em on the comments! よろしく。

Monday, December 29, 2008


はいばん ろうぜき
haiban rouzeki

New Year's Eve and お正月 are just days away, so I wanted to equip you with a yo-ji that you might have the opportunity to use soon! Before we get into why and how you can use it, let's check out the kanji.

You'll come across 杯 most commonly as the counter for cupfuls. 「生1杯」 is one way that you can order yourself a beverage. When it stands alone, however, 杯 is read/pronounced さかずき(sakazuki) and means "sake cup."

盤 are trays or bowls, which you might recognize from 大盤振舞, and gets included in all kinds of kanji compounds, including those for "pelvis," "cave-in," and anything having to do with disc-shaped things, like records. You can check out those compounds here.

狼藉 we already know from 落花狼藉, which is what I love about studying kanji and yo-ji, the more you learn, the easier learning gets. But for the sake of letting this post stand alone, 狼藉 is "violence; chaos; disorder."

So the "chaotic disorder of plates and sake cups?" See where this is going?

1. The aftermath of a (drinking) party.
2. A mess that evidences the cause of the mess.
3. Lying scattered about as after being violently disturbed.

In Japan, the whole holiday season coincides with 忘年会 season. A 忘年会(ぼうねんかい; bounenkai) is an end of the year party, usually celebrated within work circles, or other non-family circles. People who meet for volleyball practice, or 英会話 once a week have 忘年会s, but I have yet to come across a family 忘年会 where the extended relatives and hangers-on are brought in, and I'm a pretty accomplished hanger-on. Please, tell me about your 忘年会 experiences in the comments, so we can compare notes.

The point though, is that if you're looking to brandish your yo-ji skills in front of the people you work with, this would be perfect to work into a conversation at the end of a 忘年会 or any 飲み会 for that matter.

The other opportunity in which I've been able to use it is also a seasonally relevant one: discussing the differences between Japanese and American New Year's celebrations.

In Japan, the New Year is greeted in a jovial, not quite sober but not quite raucous way that starts at 12:00am on January first. Temples all over Japan do what's called 除夜の鐘」 (じょやのかね; joya no kane), and they ring the temple bell 108 times. In many places, visitors to the temples can take part, ringing the bell to sound the New Year.

The following day might include a trip to a shrine, but it's largely dedicated to laying around in front of the TV, eating special New Year's cuisine (お節料理) and drinking special New Year's sake (おとそ) which is like Goldschlaeger sake.

When somebody asks me about American customs for New Year's, I generally say, "Well, it's all about New Year's Eve, and not really about family. People throw huge drinking parties with their friends, watch the ball drop, hope for a New Year's kiss, and get really drunk."

If you get asked about New Year's day, try any sentence that you can think of with 杯盤狼藉. It's probably true.

Due to heavy drinking the night before, Americans spend New Year's Day asleep in houses cluttered with the remnants of New Year's Eve festivities. They're not so much hung-over as they are WRECKED!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Japanese That Ain't in The Textbook

Don't get all excited, we're still not going "Nightly Yoji" on you just yet.

I just wanted to write an entry of words and phrases that aren't really special in any kanji-centric sort of way; they're just things that I never came across in any formal study, but have proved very useful to know for my daily life in Japan.

To quote one Nirav Mehta, "These are the kinds of things that you need to make your 言い回し more 日本人っぽい."

And keep in mind, just because I never saw them in a textbook, doesn't mean they're not in anyone's textbook. I'd prefer not to get comments saying "That's on pg 46 in this book. You suck."

But then, I'd also actually prefer to GET comments.

So we'll throw up three for today, and first of all is: first of all.



at first; for now; we'll begin with

「とりあえず、生」 is quite possibly the most useful phrase I had never heard until I actually got to Japan. Just like 極める、it's one of those words that, Japanese people are surprised to hear a foreigner use and they consider to be "high level." This isn't because it's a hard word or anything, this is because, for the most part, it's a word with a very specific context. It's used most often when ordering food or drinks in a restaurant. The reason I don't really think that it's all that "high level" is because the context in which you are most likely to hear it, is a context to which you are probably exposed to regularly. The 生 in 「とりあえず、生」 comes from 生ビール, which is draft beer. 「とりあえず、生」 is "We'll start with beer."

While in Japan, "We'll start with beer," carries implications that later you'll be switching to the heavy stuff, you should still feel free to use it for any kind of order. It lets your server know that what you're ordering now is only the beginning, and you'll want to order more later. Using this word will save you from having to explain that you want to hang on to the menu, if it's that kind of place. And, while 「以上です」 means, "That will be all," and you use it when you're done ordering, you can combine the two to make 「とりあえず以上です」 to mean: "That's it for now."

Don't treat とりあえず as though it's interchangeable with まず though, because the nuances are a little different. I'd love to get a native speaker to confirm this for me, but here's how I perceive the difference. ○ means good usage while × means poor usage.

× とりあえず、仕事を探します。できてから、借りるアパートを探し始める。

○ Aさん:アパートが見つかったの?
○ Bさん:ま、とりあえず、仕事を探しています。

Does that make sense? If Emi or Blue would like to help clarify the differences between とりあえず and まず it would be greatly appreciated.

「なになに」 より は まし だ
naninani yori wa mashi da
It's better than [something]
This is one that you can probably already say very easily in a different way. 「XはYよりいいです。」 So why bother with まし? Easy. Because people say it, a lot.

My DS Dictionary lists the following examples:

I would die before I would give in.

It's better than nothing.

I first came across まし in my Japanese language copy of "The Spiderwick Chronicles:"
Sleeping alone would (probably) have been better.
(ましなくらいだ means the same as ましだ, but it's more of a young person's phraseology. Younger people attach くらいだ to the end of adjectives, and it takes some of the strength away from the statement, making it a bit more vague.)

The first time I ever tried to use it, I was with a friend from Tokyo who was complaining about how cold it was in Saga. I got to answer 「だが、東京よりましだろう?」


ii kagen ni shiro
That's enough!
加減 alone, as Nirav enlightened me earlier today, is a great word to know but that you probably won't come across in your basic text books. 加減 means, basically, the correct amount, so (again thanks to Nirav), you can say things like 力の入れ加減 (the right amount of strength to apply), or 焼き加減 (the right amount of cooked!).

いい加減にしろ (using the imperative form of する at the end there), translates as "Make that the correct amount," or in other words, "Stop there." But you can conjugate it through politeness and formality levels so that you could say 「いい加減にしましょうか」, meaning "Why don't we stop right there..." or as written above, 「いい加減にしろ!」 meaning, "FUCKING QUIT IT!"

And that seems like a good note to end this post on. More 教科書に乗っていない日本語 some other time!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Japanese Language Trivia of the Day:

Hi everybody! It's Jeff, and it's been well over a month since the last time I made an appearance on The Daily Yo-ji, so, yeah... sorry?

I came back to Japan on December 1st, and spent 6 days on a strict regimen of Japanese study and yakitori consumption, and on December 7th, I sat the ******* in Fukuoka, which I have vowed not to talk about at all until I get the results in February.

Since then, I've been picking up some money doing Eikaiwas, I got a translating gig that hasn't actually sent me any work yet, and starting in January, I'll be stocking shelves for *******, which I vowed not to post on the internet, because I don't want to get kicked out of the country. At least not before March, when I've got a good shot of getting a legitimate, visa-fied teaching job again.

All of that, however, is NO excuse for not posting on the Yo-ji, because I've definitely had plenty of time. So today's language trivia are directly related to my recent failure to contribute.

うわ の そら
uwa no sora


boutto suru

Both of these words can be defined as "spaced out," but as I've found, the first of the pair, 上の空 has more of a connotation of "inattentiveness." Rikai-chan will add "absent-mindedness," but I think that American English speakers think of that word as synonymous with "forgetful." Here it should be taken quite literally. Your mind is absent.

It's when everyone is talking about something, or there's something pressing that demands your attention, and suddenly the conversation gets directed your way, or the time comes to act, and you realize that you haven't been mentally present for the last five minutes. Or if you zone out during practice, and suddenly there's a football in your face-mask.

When using it in a sentence to explain why you dropped the ball, you might be inclined to try to add に and use it as a location, because it can be thought of as "the upper part of the sky," I'm not sure this is correct. Native speakers simply say 「上の空でした,」 which might stress more of the concept of blankness, or emptiness that 空 connotes.

The second piece of language trivia is, I think, one of those fun phrases, unique to Japanese like じっと見る or はっきり言う, where ぼうっと matters more for the sound of the word than for any unit of meaning it might contain. ぼうっとする is to just completely space out, and it's what I've been doing more often than I should. If somebody asks me what I did today, I (wouldn't but) could answer honestly, 「ぼうっとした。」

Other than ways to pass time, or states of existence, both of these are also passable ways to excuse yourself if you ever pull one of those non-native speaker stunts where you tune out when the conversation's not directed at you, and then suddenly someone brings you back in. Saying 「聞いていませんでした、」 SoftBank お兄さん style is a little abrupt, so saying 「すみません、上の空でした,」 would probably flash your Japanese skills and divert everyone's attention from your rudeness. 「すみません、ぼうっとしていた、」 means the same thing, but doesn't sound as nice.

As far as other usages go, if you wanted to say something sweet to a boyfriend or girlfriend, you could try saying something like this: 「仕事中だったのに」 or 「パーティで、皆と盛り上がるはずだったのに、上の空であなたの事を想い出した。」 "Even though I was at work," or "Even though I was surrounded by everyone (else) having a good time, I was miles away, lost in memories of you."
Choose your target wisely though. The line is remarkably similar to one of the lyrics of a popular Japanese song from the movie"Swallowtail Butterfly" by pop star Chara.

It's a great song, but I was amused to see that her pronunciation of 事 is off enough that an internet search for the lyrics reveals a number of people who have, jokingly or otherwise, posted 「あなたの肩を想い出した。」

Friday, December 5, 2008


すいぜん さんじゃく
suizen sanjyaku

The Daily Yoji is serious business. Or rather, Yoji jukugos themselves are pretty serious business. They can be profound, apt, or just plain cool, but not many earn the title "funny" before we get our editorial mitts all over them. My goal this time was to try and find one that evoked some humor outside of our example sentences, and I hopefully have it here. Even better - it becomes educational by the end.

As per the recent stylings of my rapping cohort, Nirav, the Mehtahuman Indian whose bowels operate like a furnace that can only be stoked by foods rating 2,000,000 Scovilles or higher, I'm gonna break this badboy down.

垂 can be found in 垂れる (たれる), ie to drip, hang, sag, trail, etc. It honestly (and sadly) took me some digging to find that word, so remember it, because I know I will.

涎 is where things get fun. I had to look this one up, too, and found よだれ - drool. The two together give you すいぜん, or "watering at the mouth," used in the same way it's found in English.

三 is 3, of course, and 尺 is our educational bit. But we'll tackle that after the:


1. Drooling over something.
2. A pressing desire.

The part that makes this phrase a bit funnier is the 三尺. A long time ago, Nirav touched on the fact that Japan has a non-metric system of measurement it... er, appropriated from China. Though it's not nearly as prevalent as America's "let's all just make up units of measurement and see how it works out" system, it exists in tiny little aspects of Japanese life. 四字熟語 are one such area, where the post linked at the beginning of this paragraph and Jeff's 悪事千里 both contain 里. I remember Nirav explaining the り reading of 里 to me a long, long time ago, when I only read it as さと, ie village. One could say I've come 千里 since then.

Anyway, aside from old-school idioms, you'll also catch the 尺貫法 (しゃっかんほう) in farming, carpentry, and real estate. The former two employ the system for tools and land, while the latter is one of the most common ways people express "square-feet" of a home - 坪, or つぼ, which is about the area of two standard tatami mats. Figuring out how big your house is becomes a piece of cake if it's covered with tatami.

Anyway, touching back on the yoji, the full literal translation comes out to "three feet of drool". Don't say I never gave you anything.

Tagging off to Nirav for the...

Example Sentence:
I don't know if he was after the models or the games, but either way, Brett was drooling all over the Tokyo Game Show.

PS. I actually had this all up and ready to go on Wednesday night...when I did a last Google of the phrase and scrolled down to find almost exclusively Chinese sites. Whoops. But there ARE over a thousand hits for Japanese websites, albeit mostly explanatory ones. So count this as a rare one.

Monday, December 1, 2008


hyakusetsu futou

Since the last yoji was slightly more "warm and fuzzy" than usual, today's is going to be slightly more defiant, and, okay, cool.

Seeing as how most of the phrases and words which actually describe my character are not quite good things to be, I think I'm going to start doing things that I aspire to instead, in the hopes that the tone of the Daily Yoji will become just a little more positive.

I know that I am in the middle of studying for exams, and that many of you (including my fellow yoji-writers) are studying for exams of your own, whether the 日本語能力試験 or whatever other tests you may be facing (TOEFL, TOEIC, whatever the English exam du jour is these days). I know from experience that exam studying is never easy, and that it's a path full of setbacks and disappointments, but the hope is that this yoji will inspire you to overcome those problems and not get discouraged by them.


Going through all of the kanji in the last example, I think, proved to be useful not only in explaining the meaning, but in giving me ideas for future posts (which, as you may be able to tell, should become more numerous as the urge to procrastinate increases), so I am going to go through all the characters again. The first character is 百, which I'm sure you all will recognize as the number 100. Along with its (larger) counterparts 千 and 万, it is also used to signify any large, indeterminate amount.

折 is another good kanji to know, in part because it has a number of, at times, disparate meanings. The meaning you are most likely to run into during the course of daily life is, of course, to turn (as in 右折 and 左折, right and left turns, respectively). Another important meaning is to fold or break (as in 折り紙 or 骨折). This character becomes really interesting when you use it metaphorically to describe the flow of events in life. Recall my earlier post of 紆余曲折. In that example, I described it as "horizontal," meaning that it was not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but just a new direction that presented itself. Sometimes 折 has this neutral meaning. Sometimes, it can have a good meaning, in that the new direction presents a new opportunity as well. (Look up 折柄.) At times, it can also have a negative meaning, and that is the one present here. Rather than being a turn on the path of life, I think of this as more of a setback in (or a break from) your plans. You see this in words such as 挫折, 屈折, and their brethren.

Relative to the other characters in this phrase, 不 is uncomplicated. Think of it as a negative modifier - "not." Finally, we have 撓. This character is not part of the 常用漢字 (the 1945 characters designated by the Japanese government as the ones necessary for literacy - and, not coincidentally, all of the characters you are responsible for 日本語能力試験1級). This is the first phrase that I ever learned that contained it, although since learning it I have seen it in a few other contexts. It seems to have the meaning of "droop down," as in a tree branch heavy with snow. So imagine a tree branch, warped and bent in a hundred places, yet still not breaking, and you will have the essence of this phrase.

1. Indefatigability
2. Perseverance
3. Unbreakable spirit

Example Sentence:
I'm always impressed with Mario's unbreakable spirit. Not everyone can keep chasing the princess after going to the wrong castle all those times.

Ok, I know I promised a more uplifting yoji this time, but I couldn't resist the urge to nerd out. I promise, the next one will really be more positive!

Friday, November 28, 2008


kanon taitoku

So by the time this post is up, it's going to be Friday in Japan, but here in Ameriland it's still going to be Thursday, November 27, 2008. That may not mean anything to you non-American readers (if, indeed, any of you exist), but here in the US it's my personal favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.

Without getting too deeply into the history (and issues) surrounding Thanksgiving, for me, it's a day to be thankful for all of the wonderful things in my life (sometimes I forget just how many there are), stuff my face, get drunk with family, argue about stupid things, watch some football and Indian movies, and pass out for a few hours before making the trip back home from my uncle's house. There is also a huge parade in New York, and the floats are AWESOMEEEE. I can't think of a better way to spend a day.

In keeping with the spirit of being thankful, I wanted today's yoji to have something to do with gratitude in general. It took a little while, because, to be honest, most of the commonly used yoji don't really have anything to do directly with this subject. In fact, one of the Japanese sites I used to reference calls it something like "not all that commonly used, but something worth knowing." Usually, I am a big fan of only posting yoji that I think are going to be somewhat useful in daily life, but since today is a special day, I will make a special exception and post a more obscure one, one that is more difficult to use, but a good one to know in general (next time you want to surprise people with how much Japanese you know, use one of the more difficult ones on here, and then maybe use this one as an "icing on the cake" sort of thing... and then in gratitude you can send me money or alcohol).

Which brings us to our

This is one of those yojis that I think it will be helpful to do a kanji by kanji analysis of, mainly because it will give us a good idea of all the working parts of the emotion this is meant to describe.

感 means to feel. Though it has a whole host of other, secondary meanings, I think the most useful secondary one for this example is something like admire or be moved. 恩 is an important kanji to know in general. It means a deep debt or some kind of fantastic good deed bestowed upon you by someone else. The most common usage of this word, I think, is for the debt you owe to your parents for giving birth to you and raising you, but it can be used for other situations as well. 戴 is a probably better known as part of 頂戴, which I'm sure most people first see or hear in it's kana form, ちょうだい. Without going too deeply into the meaning of ちょうだい, both parts of it can also be read as いただく, or to humbly receive something. Finally, we have 徳. This is another really important word/kanji to know (it's used only in the on-yomi form unless as part of a name, so toku is the most important reading for most purposes). It also has a wide range of meanings - virtue, quality of character, blessing, etc. - but the last one I gave, blessing, is the important one here.

Which, of course, brings us to our
Deep gratitude

As I said before, this isn't the most practically useful yoji, so the example sentence is necessarily going to be something of a cop-out, but here goes:
I'm always complaining, but in reality I live a blessed life. I have the support of my family and friends, and for that I am truly grateful.

Of course, a huge thanks to all of you daily yoji readers out there! I've got exams coming up, so I'm not sure how much posting will happen in the next month, but I promise I'll try to post more than I have been!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2級 Grammar 186-91

It figures we would plow through dozens of grammar points in the past few weeks only to stall out with a paltry six to go. The good news? Here they are! The bad news? The test is in only 13 days. By now anybody taking the test should have gotten their voucher and be all set to go. As we enter these last two weeks and activate hyper-study mode, I believe that we will still be able to put out a few entries... but don't be surprised if they're test-centric.

Enough stalling. Let's slay this giant.

186) ~を問わず(とわず)
Regardless of ~ , ...
Without no concern of ~ , ...

It's the same as "にかかわらず" in a lot of ways, though cases where the preceding phrase are two opposite things - "Regardless of rain or sun," "With no concern of skill or lack thereof" - are particularly common.

Ex. テストが来たら、僕は嬉しい悲しいを問わずに受けます。試験に関するスキルの中に感情がいるわけないだよ。

187) ~をぬきにして(は) ・ ~はぬきにして
without ~
leaving out ~

This one hearkens back to the "ぬき" grammar point. The big difference is that this seems to be more in the realm of intangibles, cases where a higher formality is required, and theoretical situations. Can any native speakers verify this?

Ex. 四字熟語や表現などをぬきにして、このブログまだほとんど40文法についてポストがあります。すごいものだね。

188) ~をはじめ
Starting with ~ and going on to...
~ for starters, and then...

Almost as simple as it seems, save that this expression starts a list of similar things. The book goes on to explain "AをはじめB, C", where A is representative of how the list will continue.

Ex. 今日の勉強予定:漢字練習をはじめ、文法など復讐します。

189) ~をはじめとする
Starting from ~,

This one has a much trickier construction that was woefully under-explained. Grammar point 188 is when you are going to list other objects or actions that follow the first. 189 is used when you're setting up a subject, ie 新幹線をはじめとする交通機関が雪のためストップしていうます。 "Starting with the shinkansen, transportation services are being shut down due to snow."

Ex. 今日をはじめとする僕は本当に毎日の3、4時間ぐらい勉強するはずだが。。。

190) ~をめぐって ・ ~をめぐる
about ~
concerning ~

How to discern this from the million other ways to say "about?" This one is particularly suited to problems and topics of discussion, and is probably bandied about willy-nilly when election season comes around.

Ex. やっぱり今週は来月の試験をめぐる文法例文は多いだね。

191) ~をもとにして
Based on ~,
With reference to ~,

This last one proved a little tricky for me, so to clarify things, I'm going to relay the key point to you all:
「AをもとにしてB」 AはBの材料 ・ Bを作るヒントになったもの。
In other words, "A" is a key component in making "B", whether it's because "B" is about "A" or because "A" provides hints or guidance on how to make "B".

Ex. 前の文法例文をもとにして、新しい文をきちんと書きましょう。あれ?もう終わった?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


kougan muchi

You may or may not have noticed, but I've been trying to write about yojis which reflect my character in some way.

Today's yoji is probably something you don't ever want to be called. You know that guy, the one who has so much nerve, who is so outrageous that all you can think is "unbelievable!" (I personally think of 前代未聞 whenever I see this one.) Now, I'm not saying that I've ever necessarily been called this, but you never know what people are thinking and saying about you when you're not around.


1) Shamelessly brazen

He hasn't updated in more than two months but still calls himself a "Blogger." The nerve of some people!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2級 Grammar 181-185

Today was a pretty incredible day for America, and not just from a political standpoint. Anybody who muddled through the examples will have realized exactly who I was rooting for and why I might be tempted to assault you all with a slew of new sentences now that everything is decided. I will, however, refrain. There are dozens of sites already devoted to the subject, but only one site dedicated to providing five Japanese grammar points. Which will be about Nintendo's new handheld, the DSi!

181) ~をきっかけに ・ ~をきっかけとして(にして)
Taking advantage of ~, ...
Since ~, I figured ....
Since ~, I may as well ...

Another one that's kind of tricky to provide a direct translation. Something happens that makes it easy for something else to happen, and so you go ahead and do it. "Since I had a kid, I figured I would stop smoking". Only applicable after nouns.

Ex. 新しいDSiの発表をきっかけに、僕の昔のDSヘビーを代わる。

182) ~を契機に ・ ~を契機として ・ ~を契機にして
See above, add formality

Ex. 日本のDSLiteの販売は下りを契機にこの新しい品物を発表するごとは偶然ではありません。

183) ~をこめて(込めて)
put ~ into it

Okay, I admit that one definition is a little dirty (to me), but it's a good broad definition for this phrase. The key point is that it's mostly used for intangibles, like when you "put some love into your cooking", or "put all your strength into your baseball swing".

Ex. 任天堂に信用を込めてDSi買ってしまった。ちょっと衝動買いなんですけど。。。

184) ~を中心に ・ ~を中心として ・ ~を中心にして
~ becomes/is the core/center/focus/heart

Snag this sucker onto a noun and it does just what that definition implies - emphasize that noun as the most critical part of something else.

Ex. DSiはDSLiteと異なることはカメラを中心として、PSPでもこの特徴がない。

185) ~を通じて (をつうじて) ・ を通して (をとおして)
Through ~, ...
By means of ~, ...
Via ~, ...

You use this when some third-party helps in accomplishing something. "Through your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!". Again, only on nouns!

Ex. ベスト電器に働いている友達を通じて、誰もより早く予約できた。

And that's it for today's grammar. Just six more entries to go!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2級 Grammar 176-180

BONUS POST! Chiming in with only about three grammar posts left, in between running around Florida and trying to teach Yuri about American Culture.

176) ~わけだ
~ is naturally the case

This one is useful for indicating when things are "rightfully so." This room is cold? Rightfully so, this is where we keep the transplant organs. Tired of getting cavity searched at the airport? Well it's cavity search するわけだ。 We're on Amber Alert!

Ex. ユリはチョコを食べ過ぎていることを心配しているけど、Halloweenはキャンディを食べ過ぎるわけだ。

177) ~わけがない
~ is no reason

Used to specify something there is no cause or no reason for. My book provides a sentence that speaks directly to my previous example sentence: 「チョコレートばかり食べていたら太らないわけがないだろう。」 Just like in the other わけ constructions, it's used to indicate something that's only natural. There's no reason you WOULDN'T get fat, if all you eat is chocolate.

Ex. Halloweenは妖怪か幽霊の格好をし、パーティをする祭日です。だから気持ち悪い顔しても、恥ずかしいと思うわけがないです。

178) ~わけではない
~ it does not mean that
~ not entirely/ not completely

This one is best understood through examples.



Ex. フロリダは暖かい所ですが、毎日はらく泳げるわけではない。

179) ~わけにはいかない
~ impossible to do (although you want to)

This is something the Nirav taught me a long time ago, though I didn't quite get all of the nuances of it until later. The key here is that there's an external force or reason, like a societal restriction or taboo, that prevents you from doing whatever it is. The Nirav example, which I will never forget was: [クラスの前に先生の間違えを正すわけには行かない。」

Ex. 俺とブレットも大分忙しくなってきたので、ブログにUPする時間があまりないけど、ここまでしてきたから、途中で止めるわけにはいかない。

180) ~わりに ・ のわりに
~ on the contrary
~ but
~ なのに

The book says, AのわりにB = Bの状態はAらしくない。

Ex. ユリが和食が大好きという割りに、毎日ハンバーガーを食べているばかり。


ishin denshin

I was reminded of this one again recently by an eikaiwa student I inherited from Jeff, and kind of just nodded along when it was explained since I've heard it used to many times before. I believe I've heard it before as an explanation for how Japanese people sometimes seem to be able to communicate so much to oneanother when so little is said, and thus why it can be difficult for an outsider to gain complete understanding. Being here for just 2 years has mostly refuted that idea in my mind, though I would say the phrase is still an apt for couples, close friends, and...well...the list goes on.

1. Telepathy.
2. Communicating tacitly.
3. Understanding what somebody is thinking without prompting or words.

There are probably a hundred more ways for me to define this expression, but they're all tantamount to the same thing. It applies splendidly to all the moments where, without any prompting, you wonder aloud, "what was that one thing..." or "who was that one guy...", and your friend immediately gives the answer. CREEPY STUFF.

Ex. 一番グループは絶対以心伝心と言える親友だ。何も言わなくても、お互いの考え方を分かりすぎる。

PS. I promise the next one won't be about ichiban group. For serious.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2級 Grammar 171-175

Hello, denizens of the net, and welcome to another thrilling installment of The Daily Yoji!

So! It looks like I didn't make good on a lot of the promises of the previous posts. To be completely honest, I really lost track of time last week. And not in the "goodness gracious, is it tea time already? Jeeves, fetch the scones, we've company en route!" sense of the word, but in the "wha...what day is it today? Where am I? I don't remember putting on these pants this morning..." meaning. Some of you might have noted posts went up on days they weren't supposed to, and that was just one symptom of my losing synchronization with reality. What can I say: things here have been pretty busy. With the balloon festival coming up, Saga was working all cylinders, meaning I - after 2 years spreading my roots - was, too. Even this three day weekend that just finished up was more tiring than relaxing.

All that being said, I apologize for the delay, and I know this next week might be a little crazy, too. If not for me, then at least for anybody in America. Why? Election Day.

171) ~ものなら
If だれだれ were able to ~,
If だれだれ could ~,

You tack this on to the potential (ie. 行ける, 食べられる, etc) form of verbs, and it expresses something you would like to do, but probably won't be able to.

Ex. アメリカに投票できるものなら、絶対オバマと票する。しかし不在投票まだ来なかったので。。。

172) ~ものの
~, but...
although ~, ...

I'm not sure how this differs from ~のに, but I'm going to hazard a guess and say...formality? Expert-on-Japanese commenters - ACTIVATE.

Ex. オバマは投票結果でかっているものの、十一月の五日までなんか緊張する。。。

173) ~たいものだ
always wanted to ~
always dreamed of ~

When there's something you've always wanted to do or always wished would happen, this is the grammar point for you. It doesn't work for short periods of longing, but rather long-felt desires and dreams.

Ex. ブッシュは投票されたから、僕はずっと民主党な大統領がいる時代に帰りたいものだ。

174) ~ようがない
There's no way one can ~
~ can't be done.

The format for this one: verb ます形, minus the "ます", plus ようがない. Besides that, the definition speaks for itself.

Ex. もしマケインが投票されたら、アメリカは世界の人々の尊敬をもらいようがない。

175) ~ように
in order to ~,
for ~,

Again, I'm pretty sure anybody who has taken 3級 will recognize this one. Some important usage hints: the ~ will be for something the speaker cannot control, but they're making their efforts regardless. Also, potential and negative forms of verbs pop up a lot with this one. Class dismissed!

Ex. 安心と予報するように、毎日 www.pollster.com を見てる。やりすぎるかな。。。

A quick note: it just occurred to me that there are, statistically, some people who read this who are probably very conservative-minded. My goal with these examples is never to be inflammatory or to turn readers away, but usually just to get some practice in by stating what's on my mind. Seeing as the past few months have been pretty exhaustive topic-wise, and that today is election day, I hope you'll let it slide. And besides - it should help a little that despite all my partisan example sentences, I still won't manage to get to vote due to an absentee ballot blunder.

On the other hand, if you're a bit more left-leaning - sorry!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

暴飲暴食 ・ 鯨飲馬食

ぼういんぼうしょく ・ げいいんばしょく
bouinboushoku ・ geiinbashoku

It's been a long time since I did a yoji and though I actually have a few stored away for the future (Read: Friday, if things go swimmingly), I was at school and didn't have by little stash at my fingertips. So I do what any good yoji-editor does and started groping blindly for a topic by hassling Tina, our resident CIR, ie the person who gets the same salary for doing nothing. She popped out a few that the Yoji has, to my joy, already covered...but also the second of the little gems above. The first one I knew from a long time ago, a yoji that would go on to inspire our third or fourth Ichiban Group t-shirts. Needless to say, these yoji have a special place in my heart, and are even better since they contribute the trend of looking for idioms that apply to the editors.

1. Drink like a whale, eat like a horse.


1. Excessive eating and drinking
2. Debauching
Make sure to click on the picture for the full-sized version: those shirts are important to the theme of this post.

This is a particularly good post with both Jeff's birthday and Nirav's one year "I'm leaving Japan" anniversary coming up. As with all the great things, Jeff and Nirav's influence on my life here is only understood in their absence. I remember 暴飲暴食ing and rampant hijinks. 応援団, beech parties, a Japanese superbowl as well as a Fourth of July, and a trip to the Asahi beer factory that was meant to be the first stop of the entire Japanese brewery circuit. What happened that made us rethink the other breweries? 鯨飲馬食.

Ex.  このごろ僕は何事もほどほどに生活してる。でもそれよりもニラブとジェフと一緒に暴飲暴食すること良かったものだ。早く日本に戻ってお前ら!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2級 Grammar 166-170

And closer still, to finishing both the book and the test. Although sometimes coming up with a topic for these sentences (which was my idea, way back in the day, when Jeff had been doing whatever came to mind. Oh how I wish I kept my mouth shut...) can be a task, I'm pretty glad I've kept coming back to do them. It is actually completely unheard of that I would spend so much time studying for anything, save perhaps the SATs way back in the day. I'll have to go back and review everything in the coming weeks, but it's nice to know it's all gone through my head at least once before. Review is WAY easier than learning new grammar from scratch.

A single glance at today's grammar points was enough to remind me of my one-time fling with the Italian space synth sensation, Koto! Imagine my delight when a few searches revealed that there are TWO bands with the name Mono! And one of them is Japanese Post-Rock! What does that even mean?! Here's a video to find out!(EXCLAMATION POINT!)!

166) ~ものだ(1)
Of course ~
Naturally, ~
Is meant to ~

While the direction translation is hard to nail down, the idea isn't as bad. You tag this onto statements of a general or assumed nature, ie "Of course you should obediently listen to your parents", or "naturally your legs get weaker with age", to cite two book examples.

Ex. 物と言うバンドのポストロックを単に定義するものではありません。

167) ~ものだ(2)
Really ~
Truly ~

Think of this as a "とても" for an entire sentence. Explanation: ACCOMPLISHED.

Ex. コトと物は共同制作すれば大層ないいものだ。

168) ~ものだ(3)
Was always ~
Was ~ all the time.

The key difference here is that this one can only be tagged onto past tense sentences, and simply serves to illustrate that you did something often in the past.

Ex. 日本の「物」を聞いた前に、イギリスの「モノ」しか聞かなかったものだ。

169) ~もの
because of ~

As simple as it seems, and most often used when stressing a reason you are doing something. In spoken Japanese, it's shortened to "もん".

Ex. 今前に買ったCDを全部焼いている。「物」と比べられないもので。

170) ~ものか
Definitely do not want to ~
Definitely think ~ is not the case.

Another sentence where you're emphasizing what you do not want to do or don't believe. In spoken Japanese it's shortened to "もんか", and before now I saw/heard it a TON in anime/manga, and though I had somewhat inferred the meaning, this helps quite a bit. And it's so easy to use!

Ex. 「物」に聞いてやめるもんか!死ぬまで聞くぞ!

And that concludes this Tuesday's grammar post. With any luck, we'll have a yoji for you all on Wednesday, and even MORE luck will see an expression topping off Thursday's grammar. See you at Saga Station!

Ok, see you then!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2級 Grammar 161-165

As the date of the test gets closer, my correspondance with Jeff becomes scarcer and more panicked. We have, interestingly, managed to study all the vocabulary that the other person has NOT, so every case of "Do you know XXXX?" just ramps up out depression. Who would've thought a different language would be so full of words?

On that note, today's theme is the test and things we've done for it. Enjoy~

161) ~まいか
won't ~
whether one should ~ or not

This one is hard to pin into a straight translation since every single sentence the book gives pairs it with the affirmative form of the same verb. Example from the book: 二人のけんかを止めようかとめるまいか。 Should I stop those two from fighting or not...? It seems pretty safe to say that this expression is used when you are deliberating doing something or not, and the contruction has the "~よう" construction on the same verb before modifying the same verb again as per the guidelines Jeff laid out in 159/160. It's really simpler than all that - just look at the example sentences.

Ex. 今夜2級の日本語能力試験のために勉強しようかするまいか。

162) ~向きだ ・ ~向きの  (向き=むき)
Is suiteable/appropriate for ~
Is made/geared for ~
Suits ~

A pretty easy one - just tack it onto a noun and you know what something is made for. For my sentence, I'm going to throw it into the negative.

Ex. このブログは日本語をちっとも話せない人向きじゃない。日本語もうちょっと知っていて裏を見たい人向きだ。

163) ~向けに ・ ~向けの
With ~ in mind
Intended for ~

This one is remarkably similar to the previous one. The only real difference is the "に" on the end, meaning you can tie it into sentences in all the wonderful ways に allows.

Ex. パソコンでできる勉強が大好きの人向けに作られたAnkiと言うソフトウエアに頼ってしまっている。。。

Fun note: Google image searching "anki" gives you Captain Kirk/Spock slash fiction pictures. I wish I was making that up.

164) ~も~ば 、 ~も~ ・ ~も~なら、~も~
~AND~ apply/are true.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of this, so I'll give you the lowdown on what I DO know. This seems like a way to emphasize the "と" of a list, the same way "こそ" can be used to emphasize the subject of a sentence. For an example, the book's sentence: あの子は15歳なのに、お酒も飲めば、タバコも吸う。両親が困っているだろう。 There there is no discernable (to me, at least) order of importance/surprise like a lot of the other grammar points stress, but the two things stated DO have to be similar topics. You wouldn't say the kid in the above sentence is drinking AND skateboarding (unless they rank similarly to you).

Ex. 2級テストと言えば、文法も多ければ、漢字もたくさんあるので心配している。

165) ~ものがある
~ deeply/profoundly.

This one can only be added to adjectives and verbs, and the translation I've given doesn't get much more simple than that. The expression does always seem to follow a noun tagged with the "には" particle-pair, but I don't know if that's dumb luck or a rule. Before I maim this with my own example sentence, a bit from the book: 彼女の歌には人を勇気づけるものがある。

Ex. 僕とジェフには二ラブのレベルを目指すことが無理みたいなものがある。それのかわりに一応2級を受けたら十分です。

Man, Nirav - did YOU know about this?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2級 Grammar 156-160

I'm sitting at home alone on a Saturday night, after a lazy day of studying at the beach. Florida is awesome. Don't believe me? Look at this picture of a tiny crab.

But money is stressing me out, because that job I told you I got... even that has been slowing down, so they only need me for like, a handful of hours each week. So to deal with my money problems, I went ahead and bought a bunch of Florida Lotto tickets, and oh man, if I win... 24 million dollars!

What would you do with that kind of cash?

156) ~(より)ほかない
~ is the only way/option/choice
~nothing to do but X

I like this one, cause it's pretty basic and because it's easy to conceptualize for me, in the same way I could deal with ~にほかならない (point 136). ほか is just 他 so when you think about it like that, Xより他ない becomes, "better than X, no other," or in sensical English "There's nothing better/other than X."

Ex. 不景気のため、お金の事を気にしているよ。ぜんぜん稼げないので宝くじを買うよりほかない。

157) ~ほどだ ・ ~ほどの

Used for your near hyperboles.
The train was so crowded, the doors can hardly close.
The water is so cold, it almost hurts.
It's almost SHOCKING how good at Japanese I am.

ほどだ or ほどです comes at the end of a sentence; ほどの is when you want to continue the sentence. ほどの takes a noun after it.

Ex. 宝くじを言うと、高校生の時を思い出す。Pabloというバカな知り合いが選んだ番号は6分の5を当たって、むかつくほどの賞品分量をもらった。
How WOULD you say this? He hit 5 out of 6 numbers and won like, 9,000 bucks. It's not that much, I know but... that dude was an asshole. つまり「むかつくほど」.

158) ~ほど
~ as it gets X-er

This is not your basic ほど that you learned back in introductory Japanese. You remember:「私たちはニラブほど日本語が上手ではない: We're not as good as Nirav at Japanese.」 This one is similar in usage to 「~ば ~ほど」 constructions, like 「早ければ早いほどいい: the faster, the better.

My book uses it to say things like "As the war stretches on, casualties rise." or "The mark of an experienced mountain climber is that the more experience they have, they more cautiously they'll conduct themselves on the mountain." Japanese follows for both.


Ex. 「宝くじ切符をいっぱい買う人ほど当たるチャンスが高くなるかな」と思いながら、10枚を買いました。10枚なら、当たるべきだろう。

159) ~まい(1)
~ don't intend to
~ will not

This is basically equivalent to つもりではない or しないつもり: it expresses your resolve to not do something. Add it to verbs in dictionary form, or by adding まい to the ます-less root. (考えます=考えまい.)

Ex. お金持ちになったら、友達や親戚や知り合いが僕にお願いして来る恐れがあるから、当たったら、皆に言うまい。

160) ~まい(2)
~ probably not
~ probably doesn't/won't

Used to make a guess about something that won't happen. Taking this expired medicine PROBABLY won't kill you.
Follow the same rules of construction as above.
Question: Can this be used with 過去形?

Ex. だから、今のうちに「ジェフは当たりまい」と思っておいてね。私、当るのは当たり前と思っているけど。

Jesus, that's a terrible joke. It probably doesn't even work....

Saturday, October 18, 2008


ぶんぶ りょうどう
bunbu ryoudou

Nirav posts yoji that apply to him, I post yoji that I wish applied to me. So here's another in that category. It came from that list of most accessed definitions that the Databank features.

Apparently, 文武両道 hails from the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, when Tokugawa Ieyasu thought that it encompassed what a samurai should be, and when the phrase originated, it was closely tied to 武士道: the way of the samurai.

1. Accomplished in both literary and military arts
2. Warrior poet.

As I understand it, it's also used today to refer to the sportsman-scholar as well.

Here's an example of usage, along with a photo of my personal favorite warrior poet.

例文: この文武両道の猛者のおかげで、アメリカの政局が分かるようになった。
Thanks to this stalwart warrior-poet, I've finally been able to make sense the American political climate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2級 Grammar 151-155

If we manage to stay on track, it looks like we only have four more weeks before we've exhausted the grammar points of our book of choice. Which is good, since we only have about 7 or 8 weeks until the test. For those of your reading this with the test in mind, it would be a good idea to click on the "2 kyuu" tag at the bottom of this post. It will automatically call up ALL of our grammar posts for your perusal, making it a pretty sweet study guide. Also, if anybody declares their interest, I'm in the process of making an anki deck that includes all of these grammar points. Pretty swish, huh?

If you don't know what anki is, check it out here. I'm normally pretty lax at reviewing a lot of things, largely because I don't have a good system for it and I feel like sitting down without a set goal just makes me bored and/or frustrated. But the nice thing about anki is it lets you set your own daily goals and whatnot, not to mention edit and synch your cards. Go check it out if you're in need of a good computer-based review system.

All that out of the way, this last weekend I went to the Tokyo Game Show, a trip I had also made last year. It's fun for a lot of reasons, but it's also just as taxing - if not more so - than it is entertaining. And I'll tell you why.

151) ~はともかく ・ ~はともかくとして
Right now ~ isn't the issue/problem/concern/reason, it's ...
Putting ~ aside, ...

I'm having trouble coming up with an apt English translation for this phrase. The idea is that you are talking about two things that are somehow related, but the first thing you mentioned is not the current subject or point of interest. What you write AFTER it is.

Ex. TGS (Tokyo Game Show)の出席者達は、ヲタクともかくとして、あんまり洗わない人が多すぎると思う。僕が気にしなかったんですが、つれた友達はずっと体臭について文句言った。

152) ~はもちろん
~is a given, but .... is also true.
Not only ~, but also ...

This one is best explained with examples, but I'll hazard more forms speculation anyway. The word you mention before this phrase is something that should be obvious, and the things that follow it are less so. Both things are nouns. BEHOLD.

Ex. TGS言えばゲームはもちろん、ブースベーブと言うモデルやライブ演奏もある。

153) ~はもとより
Not only ~, but ....

This one is almost exactly like the previous はもちろん, with the addition that whatever phrase you use after this expression has more emphasis. Not to say the above can't be the same way, but はもとより stresses that point even more.

Ex. そのゲームショーに行きたいなら、旅行時間はもとより線で待ち時間も我慢できないぐらいある。

154) ~反面 (~半面) (both read as "はんめん")
On one hand, ~, on the other, ....

Another nice cleancut grammar point. You use this to string together two contradictory aspects of the same thing, LIKE SO.

Ex. TGSで四回目のコスプレできました!コスプレするごとは楽しい反面仮装を作ることが難しい。

155) ~べき ・ ~べきではない
~should/must and shouldn't/mustn't, respectively

Another one I knew from a long time ago, if only from hearing "守るべき" a MILLION times in as many different anime. And since you just tack it onto a dictionary form of a verb, usage couldn't be easier.

Ex. ゲームが好きと日本に住むなら、一回少なくともTGSを見に行くべきだ。しかしその一回は多分もう十分です。

I should be adding some pictures once I upload them. BRETT, OUT!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2級 Grammar 146-150

No sooner than I start bragging about being all on the ball with my Japanese studies, and I'm running about half a week late on a grammar post! You have my sincere apologies.

But I managed to find a part time job, and I'm trying to make as much as I can, so I've been taking on a bunch of hours, plus I went to New Orleans this last weekend for a friend's birthday.

So now that I'm catching up, what would you rather I write about: my weekend in New Orleans, or spending eight hours a day conducting telephone surveys?

Yeah. I thought so.

146) ~のみならず
~ not only
~ as well as

This one is pretty straightforward: when you use it, you're placing the emphasis on whatever follows the のみならず clause. X のみならず Y means that while X might be the norm, Y is surprising, or of particular interest. Here's some book examples:



Here's mine:
Ex. New Orleans は Mardi Gras という淫乱な祭りのおかげで有名なので、お酒やパーティが好きな人に人気な旅行先です。しかしながら、New Orleans のパーティのみならず、文化も歴史も‘興味深くいい旅が出来ました。

147) ~のもとで ・ ~のもとに
~ at the feet of (under the influence of)

Used to discuss something that abstractly influences, something else. Under the instruction/influence of Brett's hardcore taiko group, he has become a taiko master. that kind of thing.

Ex. New Orleans は元々フランスに設立のもとで展開されたので、New Orleansの料理はフランスに影響されているものです。

148) ~ば ~ほど
~ the more (you) 'x,' the more you 'y'

Again, this seems pretty basic. You can use it with either verbs or adjectives, to stress an increasing change, kind of in the same way you would use につれて(131) or にしたがって(115). The more you drink, the drunker you get; that's liquor: 酒は飲めば飲むほど酔っ払うものです。

Ex. Bourbon Streetという道は賑やか過ぎで、早く面倒くさくなります。そこに時間を過ごせば過ごすほど、冷静なところに行きたくなります。

149) ~ばかりか ・ ~ばかりでなく
~ not only
~ as well as

The definition for this one is actually IDENTICAL to the definition of のみならず in every way except one: のみならず doesn't have のみならず listed as a synonym. :)

Ex. 土曜日の夜、New Orleans の有名な殺人事件やお化けの屋敷や幽霊が表すといわれる場所のツアーに行きました。その案内してもらったところは不気味ばかりか、ツアーガイドのお兄さんの話もいけ好かないから、友達のウィルが気持ち悪くなって、倒れてしまいました!救急車を呼ぶことになりました。

150) ~ばかりに
~ for the sole reason

~ばかりに is used to specify the cause of something bad.

Ex. New Orleans で人がよく飲みすぎるので、医療補助者が「コイツ、飲みすぎたばかりに、倒れただろうな」と思ったけど、その日ウィルは一口も飲みませんでした。

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2級 Grammar 141-145

In an idea that is half laziness, half inspiration, and one hundred percent guaranteed disaster, I am leaving today's example sentences to YOU, the lucky readers! To help lubricate this idea, I'm going to include one example from the book so you have a slightly more solid idea of how the grammar point works in action. When you post your grammar sentences, make sure you post one that nobody else has posted on yet. If you have a picture to go with it, go ahead and post the link in the comments and I will make it so. If you don't have a picture but would like one custom made (or searched) for you, just say so, and it shall be done. Now go forth and grammar!

Also note - I will replace the book sentences with your sentences as they come in. In the event that nobody suggests any sentences, I'll gradually do them myself.

141) ~によると ・ ~によれば
According to ~,

This one is relatively clean cut. The translation is given as "~の話では", or "according to the story give by ~". The three examples are all pretty telling, too - the newspaper, the TV news, and a friend. Sweetness.

Nirav's sentence: 今朝のニュースによると、「日刊四字」の更新率が最近安定しているそうです。

142) ~にわたって ・ ~にわたり ・ ~にわたる
over the course of ~,
over the range of ~,
over a period of ~,
throughout ~,

This one can apply to a wide range of subjects, such as time, distance, or scope/range on a less tangible scale. Think the scope of a plan to build a new highway in the city, or somebody's range of expertise. Fun hint - it can only be used after a noun.

Kiwial's sentence: 三年に渡って、日本ハムファイターズがパ・リーグのクライマックスシリーズに入りました。

143) ~ぬきで ・ ~ぬきに ・ ~ぬきの
without ~
not including ~

I learned this one after I gave a confusing order to a employee at a fast food restaurant. I wanted to order a hamburger without mayonnaise, and I (in retrospect) humorously said something like "マヨネーズはありません". THERE IS NO MAYONNAISE. Since there clearly WAS mayonnaise, she didn't circle the "no mayo" bubble and I began to feebly gesture and mutter until Nirav, standing right behind me, just whipped out "マヨネーズぬきでお願いします。" Problem solved, grammar learned. Like the last one, pair these guys up with a noun.

Book sentence: これ、あなたが作ったケーキですか。おせじぬきにおいしです。

144) ~ぬく
To ~ until the end
To ~ completely or thoroughly

The construction for this one is Verb-ます form minus the ます, plus ぬく. It emphasizes the fact that whatever verb you tag it onto is happening at an X-TREME level.

Book sentence: 難しい数字の問題を考えぬいて答えが出せたときは、うれしかった。

145) ~の末に ・ ~た末に ・ ~た末の (末=すえ)
following ~,
as the result of ~,
after ~, ~ FINALLY happened.

Man, I feel like an idiot for not realizing this kanji existed. When I first saw it I thought, "huh, that's a unique way for the 未 kanji to show up..." To my credit, though, I was suspicious from the get go. Not from a grammatical point of view, however, but just because the shape seemd off. and sure enough it was. 末 is NOT 未, as it would turn out. And with that tidbit, we meet this grammar point. Although it's not listed, I get the feeling this one has a little more emphasis than just "後" might provide.

Book sentence: 必死で練習した末の大会出場だから、本当にうれしい。

Friday, October 3, 2008

Japanese Language Trivia of the Day:

As much as I like to talk about food, eating, and eating Japanese food, it's a miracle of laziness that I haven't posted this one yet. Especially since this ranks right up there with chopsticks skillz as necessary knowledge for HOW to eat in Japan.

sankaku tabe

Triangle eating is not about McDonald's 三角パイ, nor is it about a food pyramid-style nutritional scheme. 三角食べ is all about the order in which you eat your food.

As the pictures show (and the text attests), the correct way to eat a meal is to start with your rice and work your way around bite by bite. One bite of rice, one sip of soup, one bite of your おかずor 飯. A lot of you may know this already, or have heard about this, but it would be a mistake to write it off. It's a big, big part of Japanese culture.

How big, you ask? Well, since the 1970s, Japanese schools have incorporated it into school lunches, like a part of the curriculum. And although expert testimony (W. M. Edgar, D. M. O'Mullane (9 1990). Saliva and oral health. British Dental Journal) from around the world supports the idea that interspersing sips of soup is good for keeping your mouth well salivated and therefore helping the digestion process.

But the reason for eating like this is not a nutritional one. It's part of the Japanese reverence for food that is one of the main reasons I love Japan. "和食をおいしく味わうため," according to wikipedia. Gotta love the classic wikipedia objectivity, especially in lines like this as well: 日本以外ではこのような概念はない。

If you want to try it out for yourself, remember, start with your rice, and try to size your bites so that you finish each portion of your meal at the same time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

表現Break: 蚤の金玉

This is a funny little phrase I picked up in Kagawa-ken when I was on my hitch-hiking trip, and it must've been a personal favorite of the man I heard it from, because he used it more than ten times.

のみ の きんたま
nomi no kintama

蚤 is a flea and 金玉... well, 金玉 are the family jewels. It's not an エッチ enough word that it would make the cut for The Nightly Yoji; It gets used a lot, even in mixed company. I attribute it to the Japanese cultural tendency to not think twice about discussing bodily functions, bowel movements, and private parts more casually than some other cultures might.

蚤の金玉 are just what you think they are: a flea's balls.

I found a definition online that says this: 取るに足らな いごく小さなものの喩え: a simile used to describe something that's too small to pick up... but that's using a very narrow definition of 取る. It can also mean to earn, to steal, to take, to eat, or to harvest. 蚤の金玉 can be defined simply as something insignificant, something below the radar.

The guy I learned it from liked to use it to talk about people who were nitpickers, cheap, or anal retentive. 「蚤の金玉より小さい事を気にする野郎。」 I've been able to use it successfully in situations where people have tried to pay me back the 50, 20, 0r even 10円 they borrowed from me.

My favorite thing about learning this one, however, was the wealth of expressions I discovered that mean almost the same thing. Some of these are hilarious:

1. (カエル)のションベン: frog piss.
2. (アリ)のオチンチンan ant's wang.
3. 烏賊(イカ)の金玉: squid nuts.
4. 隠した鷹の爪(タカのつめ): the falcon's hidden toenail
5. 雀の涙(すずめのなみだ): a sparrow's tear (used like we would say "just a drop in the bucket")
6. (セミ)のションベン: cicada piss.
7. イタチの最後屁(さいごへ): a weasel's fart (this one had a footnote: "something that can be sensed by smell, but not seen")

Note: Apparently, in some regions of America (koffkoff those where my dad grew up koff), there's an expression that works the same way. It's "Picking fly shit out of pepper."

Any other equivalent phrases out there?