「日刊四字」へようこそ!

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

虚虚実実

きょきょ じつじつ
kyokyo jitsu jitsu

A long time ago, I posted the origin/metaphorical basis for the yoji 海千山千 and asked you to guess the import. This time, I'll tell you the definition of this one, and let's see what you can come up with in terms of why it means what it does.

Definition:
互いに策略を尽くし、相手の隙をねらって必死で戦うこと。
Translations:
1. An extremely well-matched contest between two skillful opponents.
2. A mutually exhausting combat, full of clever deceptions and well calculated attacks.
3. Probing a hostile party for weaknesses.

And let's back up a bit and take a look at the definition in direct translation because it's SO hard core, and full of good stuff:
Having mutually exhausted all of your best-conceived strategies, engaging in a desperate battle to find the chink in your opponent's armor that will let you bring them down first.

  • 互 of 互い (たがい;tagai) happens to be my favorite kanji, mostly because I like the way it looks, but it's meaning, 'reciprocity,' is pretty cool too.
  • 策略を尽くす (さくりゃくをつくす;sakuryaku wo tsukusu) means "to exhaust all of your ideas or strategies" and can be used any time you don't know how to deal with a recurring problem.
  • (すき; suki) is the chance presented by a weak spot in someone's defenses; a chink in someone's armor.
  • 必死 (ひっし; hisshi) is a な type adjective used to indicate frantic desperation, but it's connotation of "inevitable death" makes it a lot more dangerous.
This has a lot of violent and vivid imagery in it, but it's used mostly in terms of psychological warfare. Nowadays, outside of comics and movies, this is a phrase most commonly associated with business or political negotiations. See some examples from the internets below:

これは虚虚実実の駆け引きだ。
This is some EPIC haggling, right here.

弱体化した米国はイランに対して鞭とニンジンを使い分け虚虚実実の神経戦を演じている。
The weakened rice country (America) has been acting the part of the disciplinarian, doling out punishments and rewards as it sees fit, in it's enduring, nerve-wracking battle of wills with Iran.

Other usages I've found include descriptions of resilient types of weeds, and particularly competetive chess matches.


例文:
彼と8時間以上、虚虚実実のチェスの戦いをしたあげく、彼の弱点をやっと見つけた:チェスボードでぶっ殺されることです。
After eight brutal hours of strategic chess scheming with no success in sight, I finally found his one weakness: being beaten to death with the chess board.

So tell me, what do you think gives these two repeated characters (Hollow Hollow Truth Truth) the meaning that they carry today?

2 comments:

lisze said...

Well, going only by the information you give in this post, the phrase seems to be a description of the sort of fight that it defines. If you think of a 'hollow' as a hollow punch or even a miss and a 'truth' as a sound punch, then you get this equal fight against an opponent who can dodge half of your attacks.

I'll figure out a sentence later. I'm interested though in learning what the true story behind the phrase is.

AzzidisRidden said...

The internet gives only theories on the origin of this one. Yours is among them as well :)

One that seems the most popular though is that a "hollow" represents a hole in someone's defenses, and the "truth" represents the place where it is strong. If you think about it in simple terms, it seems likes attacking your opponent's weak point would be simple, but then, you have to remember that there are two of each character. If you can see their weak point, they can see yours. And on top of that, if they're SHOWING you their weak point, it can be construed as a dare... as an invitation to attack. And why would they WANT you to attack? Unless...

The battle is not as simple as it seems, and not all hollows are hollow. Not all truths are true.