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Friday, April 18, 2008

美辞麗句

びじれいく
bi ji rei ku

I was having a discussion with some friends the other day about how reactions to things seem bigger in Japan, at least in a verbal sense. Remember what I was saying in Wednesday's post about the way different cultures use language differently?

Since I've come to Japan, I've adopted the habit of declaring a meal (most any meal) to be おいしい in excited tones, more than twice. My Japanese acquaintances will do the same thing more than five or six times. I don't ever say "ええー!" when I hear something interesting, or something that I didn't know, but it no longer strikes me as strange when other people use it to reply to everything I say. Nor does it strike me as uncommon that Japanese people love to compliment each other on all manner of things: how good you are at singing, at handwriting, at cooking, at driving, at all kinds of things. If you were to tell me how great I was at handwriting in America, it would strike me as odd. If you were to tell me about it more than once, it would strike me as patronizing. Apparently, even though the cultures have different thresholds to determine precisely when compliments begin to make us feel uncomfortable (or suspicious), there is a level where, even to native-speakers, compliments began to become patronizing.

Definition:
大げさに美しい飾り立てた言葉、文句、たんご。一般的には、上べだけを飾った誠意のない言葉の意味。
Translations:
1. Flowery prose
2. Verbose and insincere flattery

My second translation doesn't appear with a Rikai Chan Analysis, but you'll note that the Japanese definition says that this Yo-ji is used to refer to the kinds of words that, if you heard them used in everyday speech, they would strike you as insincere. Most of the instances of actual usages that I've found involved telling someone to stop it with the over-the-top compliments.

Usage note: You don't 言う 美辞麗句, you 並べる them. Connect the two with を instead of と.

例文:  姑さん: わー!このカレーはうまいよ。本当に本当にうまい!おいしいーーー!あたしの人生で、初めてこんなにおいしいカレーを食べた。これからは、他の人が作ったカレーを食べないつもりです。で、わたしも作ることをやめるよ。なぜならば、あなたが作ったカレーではないから、ぜったいがっかりするよ。うーーーーーまい!
Mother in law: Wow! This curry is fantastic! It's really, REALLY, good. It's so delicious. This is the best curry that I've ever eaten in my ENTIRE LIFE. I will never eat another person's curry again. And I'll quit making my own. Putting someone else's curry in my mouth, after this, it could only be a disappointment. It's THAT good.
嫁さん: ええと、それほどでもないんですが。。
New Bride: Oh, thanks but, it's nothing special really...
田中さん:お母さん!美辞麗句を並べないように!もう、止めてくれ!
Tanaka san: Mom! Knock it off with the bogus flattery. Give it a rest already!


Note: Please check the comments for an alternative (better) way to use 美辞麗句。 Thanks Mizuki!


2 comments:

Mizuki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mizuki said...

Bobbyさんの例でも、いいとは思いますが、
「美辞麗句を並べる」人の代表格は、(いんちきくさい)政治家とか・・・ かな?私が使う時は、そういう人のことを言う場合。
聞いた感じはすごく良いことを言ってるけど、言っている中身、考えている事、はカラッポというイメージです。「あんたらは美辞麗句並べてるけど、実際やっていることは何なんだ?結局は自分たちが利益を得るためにやっているんだろう?」etc.etc.
これはただの一例です。実話とは限りません。

私は、外国の人が漢字を使って日本語を書いていると、「上手ですね〜」と言ってしまいますね。だって、この人は相当の努力をしているんだろうな〜と想像できるから。日本では小学校からずーーっと漢字を勉強させられているでしょ?だから分かります。
もしそういうことを言う日本人が周りにいっぱいいるとしたら、みんな「頑張った(頑張っている)のですね」という敬意を表しているんだと思いますよ!