Tuesday, September 30, 2008
SO. In the interest of finishing these off so I can hunker down over some more kanji before sleeping, the sentences for this week are going to be about...things in my range of vision. Fair warning, though, I will embellish freely when appropriate, and sometimes when not.
131) ～につれて, X
as ~, X also happens
~ happens along with X
Knowing "つれて"'s usual meaning, this is a pretty simple point. The only part to look out for is that につれて can only come after the plain dictionary form of a verb.
132) ～にとって ・ ～にとっては ・ ～にとっても
～からみて (pt 3o)
This is another one that you've probably already heard if you've been immersed in Japanese for a length of time, my first usage of this one went something like "英語しか話せない外国人にとって、日本語はやっぱり難しいだろう。". "For foreigners who only speak English, Japanese is, as expected, difficult." The clincher - only use it after nouns.
This one is almost exactly like 132, with the grammatical difference that it must be followed and preceded by a noun, and it's possessive. I couldn't change the example sentence I snuck into grammar point 132's explanation because I'm not saying "the foreigner's Japanese". Another way to put it - the using this grammatical form makes the subject whatever comes AFTER the grammar point instead of before it.
134) ～に伴って ・ ～に伴い ・ ～に伴う （伴＝ともな）
The only difference I see between につれて and に伴い is that the former is more sequential, ie A changes, then B changes along with it. For に伴い, though, the two are closer to simultaneous. Remember, though, that A and B in these cases are not interchangeable. Just because as A happens, so does B, does NOT mean as B happens, so does A. The other big difference - this one can be paired up with verbs and nouns alike.
(you are crazy if you think I'm googling "chocolate shower")
135) ～に反して ・ ～に反する (反＝はん）
To be inconsistent with~
Contrary to ~,
The OPPOSITE of 85, ～とおり
反 is a good kanji to know all by itself as a general opposition kanji. 反対, 反面教師, etc etc. Knowing this makes this definition more or less self-explanatory. When using the ~に反する version, there should be a noune on either side. For ~に反して, just a noun to the left will do. It is most commonly paired with 予想, 期待 and other predictiony/evaluative words.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Check it out:
Essentially, you put your name (or, I guess, anything you like...) into the little box and it creates a "yoji jukugo" that expresses your essence. I use the quotes because they aren't really legitimate yoji-jukugo, more like niji-jukugo that are put together in funny ways.
Post your funnier ones in the comments! I'll start with what I got when I tried putting the katakana spelling of my name:
This is an important yoji to know, but for some reason, I thought Jeff had done this one already so I ended up going over a bunch of less pertinent phrases instead.
I, and I suspect many of you, live a fairly urban life, or perhaps sub-urban, lifestyle. I have a place of residence, a place of study/work, commute back and forth, and buy my food and clothing at local stores. I live within an interconnected and increasingly globalized network of production and consumption. Depending on your values, this is a good thing or a bad thing.
The place that you see and hear the phrase 自給自足 most these days is in the context of the "slow lifestyle." I can't claim to be an expert, but my understanding of it is that this mode of living puts a premium on non-industrial, organic, and community-based products and production. Taken further, many people opt to grow all of their own food, and even sometimes make all of their own clothing. Looking at the characters themselves, we see "self," "grant," "self," and "fulfill." I think it's fairly easy to see how this comes together. You might hear about people who retire from their big city jobs and begin farming their own food, or communities that share their resources so they don't have to buy anything from the outside or far away.
A related, and sometimes closely linked, concept is 自給率 じきゅうりつ jikyuuritsu. Literally, 自給率 talks about your "rate of self-sufficiency," or how much of a given resource or commodity (oil, rice, ability to write long-winded posts about uninteresting concep... wait...) you can provide for yourself. This is a word you commonly see used to talk about whole countries, rather than just an individual or group of individuals. It appears that economists (and The Economist) sometimes profess to being driven mad by this, but this is often placed at a premium politically in Japan, especially when talking about things like food and fuel, where so much of it is imported. In this context, as well, 自給自足 is often touted as an ideal.
Which brings us to our
These last few years, city life has really been stressing me out, and I'm at my limit. I want to quit my job, go home, be a farmer or something, and life a self sufficient life.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
126) ～については ・ についても
Take a good long re-read over grammar point 125 in Brett's Tuesday post, because you'll need it for this one and the next. Got it? Good. This usage of について is only an explanation of how to attach particles to make it fit into different situations.
As Brett said について書く or について考える is to write about or talk about. 戦争について本 also works. By attaching は at the end however, you're making your 'about whatever' the subject of the sentence. Does that make sense? 戦争について本 is a sentence about a book. Check this one out: 今、経済について章です。戦争については後で書いてあるのかな？
についてもworks the same way. You're just attaching the idea of "also about:" この本は経済だけではなく、政治についてもいっぱい書いてあります。
Reference the previous point. Anytime you want to use について followed by another noun, you have the option of using it with の. In my book's examples, the nouns that follow are all preceded by honorifics, so I'll assume that this is the way to use について + noun in situations that call for formality.
Ex. Aさん: Jeff様のご両親は日本についてのご質問をたくさんありますか？それとも、日本の事は、もう、詳しくごぞんじますか？
This is used just like なので. You attach it to a noun that serves as the explanation for the clause that comes next. When should it be used instead of なので? As reader Mark let me know in the comments below, it's a formal expression WRITTEN on SIGNS and BULLETINS. All of my book's examples would fit neatly on a sign, flier, or notice.
~ whenever (implies something invariable)
The book, in its ultimate wisdom, defines this as の時、いつも。It's used when you want to say When X happens, Y ALWAYS. X provokes the same reactions, feelings, or outcome, invariably. There's another usage as well, which involves doubling up on your につけs. If you want to say "In this case, or in that case, the result will always be Y," you can say: 私が料理すると、味が薄いにつけ、濃いにつけかぞくから文句が出る (book's example.)
~no matter what
This one is almost universally used with 何 or 何事 to form "no matter what." そのものだよ。
Yes, I am that much of a geek.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This yo-ji has always had a certain amount of nostalgic value for me, because its the first 四字熟語 that I learned as such. At the time I was thoroughly confused, not the least of which was due to the fact that 主客 can also be read as しゅきゃく, but also because we learned it as the subject of part of a larger argument about why Japan was going down the drain by some sort of disgruntled commentator or another. You could write a book (and many people have) about the genre of writing about Japan's downfall and its place in the larger discourse about Japanese-ness, but it would probably have almost nothing to do with yoji-jukugo, so I won't waste any more of your time on the subject.
This yoji has a variety of uses, all of which fall under the general category of having the wrong priorities. If you look at the characters, you have 1) a host, 2) a guest, 3) turning, and 4) falling over.
1. Putting the cart before the horse
2. Taking the means as the end
3. Getting your priorities mixed up
The waiters here are always grouchy, so you have to constantly watch how you treat them, even though you're supposed to be the customer. This is a serious case of mixed-up priorities.
So now you may be wondering where the second yoji comes in. Well, let's start with the reading.
I can't profess to have a 100% accurate understanding of the difference between 本末転倒 and 主客転倒, but then again, it seems to me that most people don't, either. Though most people I've talked to about it use the two in essentially interchangeable ways, apparently there is a slight difference in the nuances. 主客 has more of a connotation of "host-client;" you will often see it used to complain about the laziness and corruption of government employees, who are supposed to be "public servants," but instead treat citizens as their personal cash cows. The difference with 本末 is that you have two concepts, one of which is supposed to be complementary or even just sort of ornamental to the other. The thing is, for whatever reason, that ornamental thing has become more important. It has less of a connotation of social norms, I think, than of straight out priorities.
The reason we made the company baseball team was to give everyone an outlet for their stress, but the people on the team have gotten so into it that they're actually putting more stress on their coworkers. With priorities this out of whack, there's no point in having a company team.
Yes, I know, my priorities are out of whack, and I should be studying. But I'm not, so too bad.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
~must be so.
~is definitely the case.
If you know that "相違" （そうい） means dissent, difference, and other negating words, this one comes naturally. Another note - this is a very formal way of saying it, so save it for your boss. We have one for your friends down the page.
122) ～に沿って （～にそって）
along with ~
parallel to ~
This one can be used with both physical and intangible things. You can go alongside the river to the ocean just as well as you can follow along with fashion trends.
123) ～に対して ・ ～に対する （～にたいして・する）
Lots of potential uses for this guy. The fact that one of the definitions is simply "~に" should emphasize how many different potential uses you're looking at. Not sure how to clarify it down any more than that...
124) ～に違いない （～ちがいない）
There's no mistake that ~
~ is definitely the case.
This one lends itself to easy explanation, since "違う" just means "wrong". So "違いない", but a tiny leap of imagination, can mean naught but...well... "not wrong". This is the less formal equivalent of number 122, and arguably the easier remembered of the two.
Anybody who reads this page enough undoubtedly knows this grammar point already, or at least they should since I'm certain I've used it multiple times in example sentences. Arguably the less formal form of "に関する", this phrase's pre-built-in "て" makes it easy to verb about something. For example, "何々について書く" is "to write about something, "何々について考える" is "to think about something". It's naturally not limited to this use, but it's good to know nonetheless.
Aannnd that wraps up Tuesday, even thought today is a national holiday. I swear, the things I do sometimes for you people...
As ever, your comments and feedback are appreciated. Feel free to guess the exact words that led to these images getting found. The award for our winner - MORE GRAMMAR POINTS!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Update: So I ended up not being able to update these yesterday, and things look a little iffy on whether or not I'll be strictly on time with Thursday's update. But seeing as yet again I don't have a lot of time, I'm cutting this foreword short and going to the grammar points. Also, this week's subject: hints of a possible expansion on the Daily Yoji.
In the case of ~,
From the perspective of ~,
This is one of the most plain-cut of this week's group, since it more or less adheres to its "~たら" roots. Use after a noun!
Even for ~,
Again, another one with few surprises. Like so many of the others recently, only hook this up with a noun.
even though ~,
Considering that ~,
Some clarification is needed for the definitions to make sense. It only works when the second half of the statement is contradictory to the first. "Considering he has no experience, he did quite well". "For a fat girl, you sure don't sweat much". Feel free to use that second one as a pick-up line. Oh, and after nouns...AND dictionary forms of verbs. Cool beans.
119) ～にしろ ・ ～にせよ
Whether ~ or ~,
It doesn't matter if ~,
This one was kind of a surprise as I expected more of a command-form, as "せ" and "ろ" usually lend themselves that way. It can be used in a sequence of things, as in "It doesn't matter if it's chocolate or vanilla, I don't like ice cream", or just one thing. "Even if he works all day, he'll never finish this paper."
Nothing more than ~.
Another one that makes perfect grammatical sense after learning up to 3級! If すぎる is too much, then すぎない is not too much, nothing in excess. Piece o` cake!
Oof - that's it! Sorry for the sparseness of pictures, though maybe Jeff's last post made up for it.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I've made it to Tokyo, and am currently sitting in the lobby of the prestigious Ours Hankyuu Inn in Oimachi, where I have come to steal the internets. It was thirteen days of traveling, eleven days of hitch-hiking, and loads of sights seen, though not necessarily the ones that I had planned.
Since The Yo-ji is geared towards learning language and culture (and not just bragging about how cool your trip was), I thought I'd intersperse my bragging with tips that you might be able to get something out of and perhaps apply to your own adventures one day.
(I'll make the brief disclaimer that my experience is a unique and personal one. I'll be making broad generalizations based on my very narrow experience, so take my advice with a pound of salt.)
1. Learn to Speak Japanese:
I would hate to discourage anyone from pursuing an adventure or style of travel for any reason, so let me start by saying that I believe that it would be possible to successfully hitch-hike Japan without speaking a word of Japanese. But it really depends on what your goals are. If you're looking for transportation, you'll find it. I wanted to meet people, make friends, see the country, and learn a lot. Without conversational Japanese ability, I don't think hitch-hiking would have been fun at all, for me or for the people who picked me up. At least 30% of the drivers who gave me a lift made mention of the fact that they would've been at a loss if I hadn't been able to speak Japanese. And about 40% offered to give me a lift a little ways, and then after three or four minutes of conversation offered to drive me further down the road. Being able to talk lets your personality come out, puts people at ease, and is your best asset on this kind of a trip. For
those of you who do speak Japanese, I'll give this piece of advice a sub-header: Make SURE you know your KEIGO. It behooves you to be extremely grateful to anyone who offers you anything, so you should be using polite forms of speech at all times.
してくれる should be used a lot when referring to anything that they did for you. Even if your keigo isn't perfect (mine fails me frequently), the fact that you're trying will earn you big points.
And if you're good at it, but your formality level slips from time time, Japanese people might even find that funny. I would be saying, 想像できないぐらい、親切していただいています to desribe how kind people had been on my trip, and that next sentence I would replace my だから本当に感謝しています with だっけんホンマニ感謝しているよ。Even though my formality level was atrocious and I was mixing two different local dialects, people were amused and impressed by my range of knowledge, if not with my application.
2. Pack well:
Bring everything you need for every situation. Waterproof gear, hiking shoes, tent, sleeping bag, changes of clothes, something you can offer potential drivers to eat or drink (or smoke; I bought cigarettes to offer the drivers after I figured out that they almost ALL smoked), MAPS, rain jacket, dictionary, notebook, umbrella, reading material, music, flashlight, batteries, toiletries... a towel.
As for your hitch-hiking sign, I reccommend a foldable whiteboard plus marker, reusable and easy to carry.
On top of that, I brought a camera, chopsticks, a fan, a hat, and my eyeglasses. I tied my waterproofbag to my sleeping bag and could throw hang those around the tent so it would attach to my backpack, leaving my hands free to hold my sign.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Turn Down Rides... for any reason:
As safe as Japan is compared to the rest of the world, there are still risks attached to hitch-hiking. If a car or driver doesn't feel right, say you're sorry and let it pass on by. I never had to do that. I did however turn down a few cars because they wanted to take me in the wrong direction (usually back in the direction I had come) or to a bus station. Once a taxi driver even stopped and said "I'll take you," but when I asked "ただで？" he laughed at me. I was glad I double-checked, before I got in.
4. Walk While You Wait:
Unless you're waiting near a highway on-ramp or at highway parking area, whenever your traveling by 下の道, I suggest holding your sign so that it faces back behind you, and walking in the direction that you want to go. I believe this is better for a number of reasons.
First of all, it keeps you from getting frustrated at the amount of time you have to wait. Whenever I was just standing for long periods, all I would think about was the amount of time I had been standing there, and how no one was stopping to pick me up. When I was walking, I felt like I was still making progress. As one driver who gave me a lift put it, 「一歩でも、前に進んだ方がいい。」 Even if it's just one step, it's best to move forward.
The second reason is that it's good exercise; when you're hitch-hiking, there's a chance that you're going to be sitting in cars for the majority of your day, and there's no guarantee that you'll be eating well. By the same token, I tried to do some calisthenics, crunches, back-raises, and push-ups every morning before I set out. Long hours of immobility doesn't just make you fat, it makes your back and your legs and your bones hurt... even just walking when you have the opportunity lets you stretch out. Trust me, it feels good.
5. Once You're In the Car, Accept Everything You're Offered:
Again, feel free to use your best judgement here. If somebody offers you a moustache ride, or to let you drive... anything you're not comfortable with, yes, you should turn it down. But what I'm referencing with this tip are the things you're more likely to be offered: snacks, drinks, lunch, dinner, a local tour, or lodgings for the night.
Remember, the point of hitch-hiking is not to get a cheap ride from one place to another. It's to have a crazy experience. And there's a very good chance that the driver, once they get to know you, will want to play guide, and to have their own crazy experience from their side of things. You really are in their debt, and it's your job, to A: show how grateful you are, and B: do everything you can to give them a good Guide experience. Even if you don't chew gum, take the gum. Even if you don't drink coffee, drink the coffee. While I was in the bathroom at a rest stop, a truck driver named Sone-san bought me lunch, or to be more specific, TWO lunches. It was hard to eat it all, but Japan is a country that's big on gratitude, gift-giving, and doing things you don't want to do out of politeness.
If they buy you something to eat, EAT it.
It was delicious. Seriously.
I was surprised by how many drivers not only took me to my destination but stayed to show me around. Teshima-san picked me up in Miyajima and drove me to Hiroshima, and then waited in his car with all of my bags to make sure that I got chance to see as much as I wanted of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and Musuem. He was extremely knowledgeable about the history, and pointed out places of interests, and then drove me to a public bath to get cleaned up while he found a place where we could get Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima-style) for lunch.
Azuki-zawa san took me to the famous shrine Izumo-Taisha, and it turned out that he had been raised in Izumo (and been married at the shrine). He gave me an extensive tour and bought me a lunch of Izumo-soba.
Uno-san and his mother spent two days giving me an extended tour of Okayama... mountains, waterfalls, monkeys, a nationally famous park, bridges... TONS of food (including the fish head above). Noticing a pattern?
6. Get Contact Information:
This is essential as part of showing your appreciation. You've been wined and dined and 大盤振る舞いed, and if you've been thankful and awestruck the whole way through, the person on the other end has their own story to tell about the foreigner they met randomly and all of the cool things they did together. You want to make sure that story ends well... or better yet, continues well, because to leave abruptly without any exchange of contact info or overtures to meet/speak again might be a bit cold, and leave the other party feeling used.I asked for addresses of everyone who gave me a lift, and will be sending them thank you cards and omiyage from America. With those people who I became especially close with, or went out of their way to treat me well, or give me a place to stay, I got phone numbers of keitai email addresses as well, and sent them updates throughout the trip. "Made it to Nagoya! Thanks again!" That kind of stuff.
And that was a smart move, as it turns out, because one of the truck drivers who picked me up early turned out to run a company in Takamatsu, so when I updated him with my location (near his home), I ended up with another ride and another place to stay, further down the line.
7. Be Ready for Change:While I had originally planned out a specific route of sights and locations I wanted to visit, I wasn't really strongly attached to any of them, and didn't have any rigid time line either. This was for the best, because a lot of people suggested I check out things that I would have missed otherwise.
Someone suggested I head to 日本海 before I set out for Sakaiminato, because if I did, I could hitch all along the seaside on my way.
To do that, though, I had to take an extra day, and ended up spending the night with a young couple who thought it would be nice for me to check out Izumo-Taisha, the shrine I mentioned above which is famous for housing the God of Binding Relationships; they suggested buying some Omamori for the sake of my future with my girlfriend.
And where I had planned on simply passing through Okayama prefecture, it turned out to be the highlight of my trip. Especially the 露天風呂、the outdoor stone hot springs bath in a town called Yubara, right in the middle of the Asahi-gawa (river). Uno-san and his mother declined to enter because they were driving and onsens make them sleepy, but he handed me a towel and said 「入って来て。」 Keeping in line with tip 5, there's not anything you can do in that situation but get naked and get in. And good GOD was it worth it.
8. Trust Maps and Your Own Experience Over Drivers
A number of times, the drivers, as well-meaning and nice as they all were, went out of their way to drop me off in a place that was "easier for cars to stop." And the reason it was easier for cars to stop there, was because cars were few and far between, and cars that were going in the direction that I had written on my sign were even fewer. In these cases, try waiting until the previous driver has left, consulting your map, and walking or hitching to a road that seem more likely to yield results.
Another thing that you should trust your map for, is letting you re-evaluate your destination goals. Even if a driver tells you that a lot of cars headed to Tokyo take this road, unless you're waiting at the entrance to a highway, it's pretty silly to just write Tokyo on your sign. If you're on a prefectural or national road, pick a destination 10-20 kilometers down the road, and write its name, along with 方面 (in the direction of). Then when people stop, you can talk about where you're actually going, and see how far you can get.
Another thing that almost everyone who gave me a ride told me, was that in that part of Japan, no one else would have stopped to give me a ride. This is simply not true, but again, it speaks to the issue of the DRIVER'S role as guide. It's more exciting for them to think that they're the only one who's having this kind of experience, so it's best to not disagree with them, or to talk to much about what other drivers have done for you. It takes away from their experience, and can sometimes even sour things. One man who had offered me a place to stay, changed his mood entirely after I got a call from Sone-san about my lodgings for the next night, and started talking casually about where would be best to let me off. I stayed quiet and polite and pleasant, and started asking questions about parks where I could pitch my tent. After another hour or so, he changed his mind back.
9. Stay Away From Cities:
I made it to Tokyo, and I passed through both Hiroshima and Nagoya on the way, so cities are doable for hitch-hikers. But they're miserable. Really, really miserable. The worst days that I had, the "Screw this, I'm buying a bus ticket," kind of days, were the days I was trying to hitch-hike OUT of cities. There are no good places to wait, there are no good places for cars to stop, and 90% of the traffic is probably local people going to/doing work. They're not going to pick you up. In my opinion, hitch-hiking is not the way to see and enjoy Japan's big city destinations.
10: Have a Way to Keep in Touch:
I probably annoyed Brett a bit more than I should have with keitai mail and phone calls ("This truck driver just asked me if we have MATH in America.") and was probably a little too overzealous to see Nicky New-job in Nagoya, but man. If you're a foreigner living in Japan, it's probably safe to assume that you have some foreign friends, and that you know the comforts of speaking your own language with other native speakers. This was the first time that I've spent this much time (almost 2 weeks) doing nothing but solid Japanese, and while I learned tons of cool new words, interesting phrases in different dialects, and felt pretty confident about my Japanese ability, there were times when I just HAD to talk to someone in English.
Keitai, and the occasional internet cafe stop over were my life-lines. Plus, if anything bad happened, people would know where I had been last, so that's good too.
Bonus Non-Tip: Getting People to Offer You a Place to Stay
I took my tent, but I only ended up camping twice. Every time I got in a car near the end of the day, I asked myself "What's the best way to get this person to offer me a futon?" I came up with no answers.
You can try letting them know that other people have offered you a place to stay before in casual conversation. Maybe they'll find it reassurring that there are people out there who survived spending a night with you. But you also run the risk of alienating them like in the circumstances I mentioned above.
Talking about the weather and how it sucks if it rains, cause all you have is this little tent and all... that comes across as obvious and is not likely to work.
It's best to mentally accept the fact that you're spending the night in a tent, and then to just be yourself. If they like you, and you get along well, then maybe something will come out of that.
So that's it. Expect some more phrases and vocab to trickle in from the experience, slowly. And if you have facebook, feel free to check out the albums I have up so far: Bobby Judo
As for me, I'm relaxing in Tokyo, eating some Burger King in preparation for heading back to the United States. Hitch-hiking left me pretty physically exhuasted, and I think it's worked itself out of my system... for the rest of this year at least. But I had an amazing time, and I think it's a fantastic way to see Japan.
I swear, I have never been accused of having these.
Ok, maybe I have.
To be fair, I think that everyone who has reached a certain amount of Japanese proficiency (when you learn how to say こんにちは, for example) has to deal with people over-complimenting their ability. Most of the time, even students of Japanese language are aware of themselves enough to understand when they really are the "bomb-diggity," and when people are just being polite. Sometimes, however, you come across that rare person who just doesn't get it and thinks that he/she is God's gift to the study of Japanese. I'd say that those people are suffering from delusions of grandeur.
Of course, that's not the only source of delusions of grandeur in the world, so feel free to come up with your own examples.
Delusions of grandeur
Just 'cause you were a big deal out in the boonies, don't go getting any delusions of grandeur. Things here are on a different level.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I know, I know, you're all saying "Jeff? On Grammar? Not likely!" And deservedly so. Recently I've been leaving the studying Japanese aspect up to Brett, and involving myself more in the "Having Japanese people buy you stuff" elements of what we do here...
But today, I do have some limited internet access back, and to prove my grammar merits, I'm accepting a challenge. Because I've found myself in a situation where I can't upload photos to the site, I had to ask Brett to upload them for me. He uploaded five pictures, and I have to figure out a way to tie each grammar point to the pictures he chose. Please keep in mind that the sentences should be taken in CONTEXT of the photos. Thanks.
Wish me luck, and off we go: 111-115.
~ on top of
~ in addition
~ not just... (but....)
My book lists a number of examples that help clear this one up:
In addition to forest fires, highway construction is contributing to deforestation.
He won gold medals AND silver medals, so he's pretty happy.
Basically it's used in situations when you want to emphasize a second cause, effect, or factor. It only gets attached to nouns though.
112) ～にこたえて ・ ～にこたえる
~ in order to meet
You might be familiar with のため（に） as the way to say "for the sake of," as in 愛のため, or 家族のため. If you were to get more specific with these concepts though, and not say simply love or family, but "the demands of love" or the "expectations of family," you'd encounter the same linguistic change in English. You don't say "for the sake of the demands/expectations" you say "in order to meet..."
~ on the occasion of
Another ceremonial expression, used just as you would use 「の時に」 or 「の場合に」, but when you're speaking formally, at the conduction of a ceremony or event where formality is required. The book's examples involve presidential visits, or graduations. How about this one?
114) ～に先立って ・ ～に先立つ
This one is attached to nouns, and seems pretty simple. If there are any nuances as to WHY it should be used instead of の前に, I'd love to hear them!
The definitions for this one all reference other grammar points we've studied/are studying, like とともに、or につれて. It's specifically used to describe something that two things that are changing due to some sort of causal relationship. The point is that A changes AS B changes.
Saba can, of course, just be written in katakana as well, but I'm going to use the kanji for a special bonus at the end of this post, so keep it in mind.
Do you ever "fudge" your numbers? Like, for example, say you're, I dunno, in your late 20's when in reality your 30th birthday was last week? (No, despite what Brett or Jeff or any number of Japanese people may have to say about it, I'm not quite there yet) If so, you've been reading your mackerel.
What does mackerel, regardless of how delicious it might be, have to do with fuzzy math? What I learned way back in Japanese class, and what a cursory Google search has confirmed, is that there really isn't a fully accepted etymology of this phrase, though there are a few theories. There are two that I personally find believable. The first states that this phrase comes from the two essential qualities of saba: it loses its freshness quickly and it is caught in overwhelmingly large numbers. The first quality leads your average fishmonger to want to sell them quickly; accordingly, they have a tendency to count them quickly. They don't have to be especially diligent about keeping track of the actual number because there are so many of them anyway. The main drawback to this explanation is that it doesn't account for the use of the word 読む in place of 数える.
Another explanation comes by way of the word 魚市場, which is (was... among fish-mongers) pronounced isaba, not sakana ichiba, as we might be tempted to read it. When spoken quickly, the word became shorted to saba. Note that 読む in Japanese sometimes has the nuance of "pronounce" as in "read out loud;" hence, this explanation doesn't run into the same problem as the first one.
Either way, I'm going to go ahead and define it as:
Ms. A: Hey B, how tall are you?
B: Hmm, I guess about 6' 3".
C: What's with the number-fudging?
So what's the bonus, you ask?
This is a nerdy thing that those of you who aren't particularly fond of seafood are probably not going to appreciate, but I think that it's pretty cool. I should first disclaim that there are multiple (two) ways that I have seen the kanji for サバ written. The first is as Windows has it, 鯖. Notice that the right side looks almost exactly like the kanji for blue, 青, except that the 月 has become more of an 円. However, sometimes (as in the picture above), you do see it written as 魚+青.
I don't believe that 鯖 is a 国字 (that is, a kanji made up in Japan, not China, to express some Japanese word; the classic example of this is 峠, or a mountain pass), but it just so happens to express a concept about fish that I never heard until I moved to Kyushu. Kyushu, as it turns out, is famous for what are called (especially there) 青魚 or aozakana - blue fish. (This word is somtimes read aouo, and is pretty interchangeable with the word 青物 aomono in Kyushu. Aomono is slightly less precise because it can also refer to vegetables. Another word for this kind of fish is 光り物 hikarimono.) These "blue-fish" are actually grey on their bodies, but blue on the back. The cool thing about the kanji is that it just so happens to assign blueness to the classic example of blue-fish. Neat.
Other examples of blue-fish include アジ (horse mackerel)、イワシ (a kind of sardine)、ニシン (a kind of herring, I think. No, not a red one)、サンマ (pike, also the possessor of awesome kanji), and, depending on who you ask, サワラ (Spanish mackerel - search the tags for "thorough fish whacking" for more information).
Great, now I'm hungry.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Ok, this isn't really a 四字熟語 in the classical sense, but I like it, so bear with me. I recently started law school, and this seems particularly fitting for how I've spent my last week or so.
Setting aside the irony of the fact that I am posting now that I actually have other things to do, and barely made any updates during my 2-month period of unemployment, this particular phrase deals with someone who is so busy with studying that they never leave their house.
1) "Professor Shut-in"
The big difference between myself and actual 閉戸先生's, of course, is that they actually study out of intellectual curiosity, whereas I study... because I have to (at least, that's what I tell the cool kids).
My first thought when I heard this was of the monk who was so passionate about memorizing scripture he sat at his station until his legs decayed below him. My legs feel asleep way too quickly for me to make it quite that far, but studying has had something of an effect on my social life (coupled with the tropical storm that passed through yesterday, I didn't leave my apartment for something like 36 straight hours this weekend).
Back to the Japanese, being a 閉戸先生 isn't really a good thing; the fact that your door is closed (the 閉戸 part) means that you are ignoring your neighbors, and by extension your human relationships. You're not necessarily a social outcast, but you are more cut off than you should be. As we saw with Jeff's recent explication of the word 縁, human relationships are not something to be taken lightly, so make sure you never go to la... I mean, never become a 閉戸先生.
Professor X is a talented scholar, but he's something of a bookworm and has problems getting along with people.
Don't ever put "bookworm" into google image search at work, at school, or in the presence of children or easily offended people. Take it from someone with experience.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Recently I've been searching around for a post-JET job, and it's had mixed results. I know there are some opportunities out there, but for a lot of them I lack experience. Then there's the whole issue of job hunting almost a year before your current contract is up. It's hard to take it seriously when I don't want to leave my current contract so early, but at the same time I don't want to just sit around doing nothing. That's part of what the yoji is, really - letting me at least sharpen my Japanese while I have a secure job. Anyway, all that job-huntin` stuff will be the topic of these sentences. I promise something more entertaining for Thursday!
106) ～にかけては ・ ～にけけても
on the point of ~,
when it comes to~,
Piling higher still on the mountain of grammar that reminds you powerfully of other grammar, this one is - again - pretty self-explanatory. The two handy points that will help you differentiate this one are as follows: 1. It can only be used at something you excel at, and 2. it always follows a noun. The second point, now that I think about it, is apparent given my examples. One couldn't say "when it comes to run, I'm the fastest!". Still, those grammatical points don't always transfer, so I'll go ahead and clarify.
107) ～にかわって ・ ～にかわり
In place of ~,
Instead of ~,
On behalf of ~, (for people)
In lieu of ~,
I've actually known a close version of this phrase before, but I've always used "の代わりに", which is great to know if you don't already. Xの代わりにY, "Instead of X, Y". How is this grammar point different than my old fall-back? After a lot of research, I have some decent answers. First of all, these phrases are most commonly used to replace people in the sense of "on behalf of so-and-so, I'd like to present this award!". BUT, it can be used with inanimate objects, too, in the event that it's not a one-time replacement, but a general transition. "DVDs are being used in place of VHS these days," might be a good example.
NOTE: This sentence has been found wanting by Japanese peers! Check out the comments for in-depth clarification from one of our regulars, blue!
108) ～に関して ・ ～に関する
Another one I feel like I've known for a long time. Just as the other two examples above show, it's like ~について, though perhaps a little more formal. Use after a noun, and if you use に関する, use another noun after it, too.
It goes without saying that ~
It's quite certain that ~
This one you could probably figure out even without the hint. If something is "already decided", there's no room for debate, as is the case of this grammar point. Use this when there is very little room for doubt. Since it can basically be tagged onto any parts-of-speech without modification, it's also ridiculously simple to use. BEHOLD.
Compared to ~,
In contrast to ~,
I was surprised to find this one in the grammar book, especially since the definition and synonyms were completely blank. Why? Because the word IS the grammar point. "比べる", or "くらべる", means simply to compare. Furthermore, since it can only be used with nouns, it's not especially complicated.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
mikka mitsuki sannen
(This can be alternatively written/pronounced as:
みっか みかげつ さんねん
mikka mikagetsu sannen
Three is an important number in the Japanese collective consciousness. Oh you'll hear a lot about numbers like 4 and 9 as harbingers of suffering and death, or 8s representing bounty... but 3s are where it's at in terms of demonstrating resolve.
What do I mean by this? Let's take a look at some Japanese expressions and Japanese cultural practices that all involve threes.
Three is the magic number for gift giving at weddings: 30000円 is the traditional amount for a present, and if you choose to give gifts like dinner ware, or bath towels, or anything domestic, you should always give them in groups of odd numbers, like 3 or 5, with 3 being the standard. While I imagine that in the states, couples gifts in groups of 2, or even family starter gifts in groups of 4. In Japan, however, the idea is that even numbers can be evenly divided and are not appropriate for weddings, which should be about lasting bonds. A group of three (man, woman, and child perhaps?) can not part ways so easily.
And there's another marriage tradition with threes that I learned about recently. It's common, still today, for a suitor to be turned down by the bride's father three times before receiving consent.
This ties in with the general idea that Japanese people will say "No" thrice before accepting things. When you offer to pay for a meal, (or even just for your portion of a meal) Japanese people will often refuse. If you do want to pay, try offering more than four times. They might just be being polite.
On the same theme of persistence, remember 三日坊主? Three days is the make or break point. Someone who's sticking with it after three days is probably not going to give up.
So take the 三日 from 三日坊主, as the period required to see what a trade, hobby, or regular practice requires, and we can start to work on the meaning of today's phrase.
Watch for three days, learn for three months, practice for three years.
Sorry for the lack of a definition in Japanese, but definitions seem to vary. A man who gave me a lift through Shimane-ken explained that this was the way that you become an expert at something, the way you make it your own.
Some sources on the web equate this expression to the ことわざ 「石の上にも三年」, which involves enduring boredom and suffering to achieve greater results. Notice how that takes three years too?
Do you know any other Japanese expressions or customs involving threes?
Holy Grammar Points, Batman!
101) ～において ・～においては ・～においても ・～における
103) ～にかかわらず ・～にかかわりなく ・～にはかかわりなく
105) ～に限り ・～に限らず
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
It's been 9 days since I took off from Saga, and I've made it to Nagoya. Once I get to Tokyo, I'm going to try and post (for those of you who are interested) an account of my trip, and if I make it out to Saitama to see The Hopeless Romantic, you MIGHT even get a video. For now, suffice it to say that I have been through 14 prefectures, over 1500 kilometers (over 50 walked), ridden in over 20 cars... been to islands, mountains, waterfalls, shrines. And somehow (自画自賛だけど) I've managed to end up with 2,000 yen MORE then when I started. I'm not done yet, but I wanted to post a few pics, a few vocab words, and a great yojijukugo that I was saving for exactly this occasion.
1. To hit it off
2. To get along like peas in a pod
3. To discover a kindred spirit
The picture above is of Uno-san and his mother, who picked me up in Okayama and ended up giving me a tour of Okayama prefecture that lasted two days. I had intended to merely pass through Okayama but I'm glad I didn't! They treated me (and were kind enough to say that it felt) like I was family, even going so far as to buy souvenirs for me to take to my girlfriend in Tokyo!
The left picture below is of Azukizawa-san, who took me in the direction of Sakaiminato (Mizuki Shigeru's hometown), and he was by far the person that I had the best conversation with. Which is to say that we talked for hours about American television, our favorite action movies (Die Hard and Batman), and Eyeshield 21 (the only anime series I've ever watched regularly).
On the right are Riko-chan and Ryuunosuke-kun, whose mother gave me a lift on the final stretch to Nicky New-Job's apartment in Nagakute-cho, Nagoya. The kids were adorable, and we watched Thomas the Tank Engine together and ate chicken soup flavored potato chips.
In all of these situations (and more) one word I kept hearing over and over in various incarnations was 縁, which you may remember from 合縁奇縁.
縁 means a relationship, or fate, or the bonds of fate, and is used to talk about chance meetings. I heard people using it with the honorific ご attached to talk about the relationships we formed meeting in this way. There are a lot of other words I learned with similar themes, but for today, let's focus on 縁 for a moment.
By itself you can use it to mean anything from "destiny that binds two people together," to "the chance to meet someone and start a relationship." It encompasses a broad range of meaning involved with connections between people.
Here are some compounds that use it:
- 類縁 (るいえん;ruien): family relationship
- 腐れ縁 (くされえん;kusare en): undesirable but unseverable tie
- 血縁 (けつえん;ketsuen): blood relationship
- 旧縁 (きゅうえん;kyuuen): old relationship; old acquantaince ( see 竹馬の友)
Use it with する。
When I first learned this one, again from my Yojijukugo tutor, Otao-san, she gave me the following example: 偶然で会ったけど、意気投合して、友情を育みました. For today's example sentence, I'll use my very simple attempt at applying it, which drew a laugh at the time.
We met, hit it off, and got married.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
As both Jeff and I noted in our recent posts, the Yoji has again become an erratic affair. This was largely due to Jeff's displacement, but also due to 夏バテ. As if that weren't enough, the times we weren't afflicted by summer grogginess we were instead consumed by summer super happy fun times, and enjoyed such activities as wakeboarding, climbing waterfalls, beach barbeques... the list goes on. With Jeff heading off for the states soon and summer officially ending next week - scholastically, anyway - I figured I'd use these 5 grammar points to reminisce about the good ol` days.
96) ～ないことはない ・ ～ないこともない
It's not that I don't ~, it's just that...
It's not that ~ isn't the case, it's that...
Good lord, I wish I had known this one a long time ago. There's one example I would've run so ragged that I can't help but sharing it now before I make my own: 納豆は、食べないこともないんですが、あまり好きじゃないです。 It's not that I won't eat natto, it's just that I don't really like it. Beautiful. The little trick here is that you're not flat-out denying something, you're just insisting that it's not 100% true. Like for the previous example, you wouldn't go so far as to say you won't eat nattou at all... but it is true that you don't really like to eat it. For flat out denials, see Grammar point 89.
It's difficult not to ~
I can't help but want to ~
This is a pretty fun one that, like so many grammatical points, is used in connection with another clause. At least in written text. It's always important to consider that while a stand-alone example sentence may require all kinds of forethought and explanation, a lot of these grammar points don't necessarily require the full setup when given in context. Anyway, this one can only be used with the negative form of verbs, so choose wisely.
98) ～ながら ・ ～ながらも
Even though ~, ...
Despite ~, ...
Another of the long lists of variations on "のに". It goes Aながら, B. Where the definition ends up being "Even while A persisted, B - a contrary force - continued." That makes it sound way more complicated than it is, eh?
99) ～など ・ ～なんか ・ ～なんて
Just like "こそ", the nature of Japanese sentence construction prevents me from making a solid English translation. In short, this emphasizes the previous sentence clause. Pointer - なんか and なんて are only used in spoken language!
100) ～にあたって ・ ～にあたり
At an important time/event like ~,
～の時 or ～の際
This one is reserved for big events, so don't use it for something unimportant or common.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Before I get started with this one, I'd like to say both thanks and sorry to the people who have still been checking on the website daily despite our truancy. As an admitted internet-abuser, I know what it's like to come time and time again to a site that advertises fresh-baked grammar every day and only produces moldy vocabulary croissants from last week. In our defense, Jeff is pretty much a vagabond right now and I've been trying to fend off a pair of squatters for the past month. Are these two things related? Undoubtedly so. But it's still little excuse for us to let the site go to waste, especially when the summer crawl meant zero classes for me. So again, sorry for the delay, and without further ado...
The way I stumbled upon this one was actually when discussing some regional 表現 with the aforementioned ne'er-do-wells and my girlfriend. The evening's topic : 九州男児 (きゅうしゅう だんじ). Defining this phrase is a bit tricky, and my attempts to get a more exact definition via the internet have only made it more of a challenge. The very first time I was exposed to the term was when I first arrived in Tokyo and went to a bar with some of my future administration. One of them chose to order some shouchu, which is pretty much the strongest native Japanese drink. His colleagues were quick to jokingly call him a "Kyushu Danji", and seeing as that's where I was going to live, I tried to investigate the meaning a little. My Japanese two years ago, however, was a bit stumbly, and all I discerned from the conversation was that Kyushu Danjis love to drink. Given the reputation of many JETs, this seemed like a useful word to know.
But it turns out that being a heavy drinker isn't enough to qualify you for K. Danji-ship. To be honest, I can't entirely say where the next bit of my tutelage came from, but I remember soon learning that the stereotype associated with 九州男児 includes a variety of attributes common to the men of Kyushu. After the drinking, there is also what I can only describe as swarthiness. This is a natural side-effect of living in the most Southern island of Japan (ie. more sun year-round) and also living in what is largely regarded as a rural area (ie. more farms = more time in the sun). The next piece, and arguably the biggest, is the personality. And that's where today's yoji comes in.
1. A man who acts like the king of his house.
2. A chauvanistic and/or domineering husband.
This phrase is closely linked with the 九州男児 image, in which the husband lords over his wife. It's important to note that nowhere has the term "abusive" been mentioned, as it's actually quite difficult to become 亭主関白 without a partner who is subservient by nature (so I'm led to believe). Someone described with this yoji is likely to assume that all the cooking/cleaning is women's work, and they should not need to be reminded of that.
Jumping back to 九州男児, please keep in mind that a regional expression like this will get all kinds of different mileage in different areas and company. In searching for a definition, I found a gay Japanese blogger who defined the phrase simply as "very manly," and in an entirely positive light. I've even met girls here who say 九州男児's are more desirable, labeling their Tokyo counterparts as too effeminate in dress, appearance, and even speech. Whether or not being described this way is good or bad will depend entirely on the speaker.
I think I can nearly fulfill the requirements of being called a Kyushu Danji. Excessive chest hair? Check! The belief that laundry and cooking are women's work? Check! A veritable drunkard? DOUBLE check! The only problem is that my skin's not quite dark enough...maybe I should get out more often?
Note: I actually don't believe that business about a woman's place in the world - except in circumstances where it's comedic gold, or even comedic silver. I am even known to settle for comedic pewter.
Note the Second: Like Jeff said, I'm going to try to give a grammar post every Tuesday AND Thursday starting from this Tuesday. Also like I said before, any suggestions for the topics of said posts is hugely welcome. See you soon!
Note the THIRD: Jeff posted a comment saying how one of the keys of Kyushu Danji is that they do all of the above...without saying a word. They aren't mute, but if you have to vocalize your commands or desires, you are no Kyushu danji.