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

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?

2級 Grammar 136-140

Two weeks in a row on grammar, I've picked back up on all my kanji studies, and I've got four other posts for this site coming. I'm back on my Japanese study game and all thanks to how incredibly unemployed I am. Man it was nice being in Japan, oblivious to how screwed up the American economical and political landscape has become. Let me do my best to tell you about in Japanese...

136) ~にほかならない
~ nothing short of
~ is guaranteed

Use this to make extremely strong statements of equation: War means death. Think of the ほかならない in terms of what it means conceptually: it won't be(come) anything else.

Ex. Palin副大統領の地位は、ファースにほかならない。 

137) ~に基づいて ・ に基づく
~ to be grounded in
~to be rooted in
~to be based on

This is a pretty easy one. 基づく means "to be based on; to originate from." You could use this to say that hiragana and katakana are derived from kanji, or that all computer software is based on binary code. Or how about this one?

Ex. 今の不景気はサブプライムローン危機に基づいている。

138) ~によって ・ により
~ according to
~ by means of
~ due to

によって or により is used to identify the cause or the means of something. My book's examples use によって to say "supported by volunteers," and により to say "due to the blackout."

Ex. 不景気により、ずっと探しても仕事はまだできない。

139) ~によっては
~ depending on

I'm not entirely clear on this one, so I could use a little help, but I think that によっては is used to say, "in this situation, X is the case." I chose to define it as "depending on" because my book's examples lend themselves to that interpretation. Like 「たいてい遅く帰宅しますが、日によっては6時ごろ帰れる場合もあります。」 I read that as, "Usually I head home late, but depending on the day, I can also leave around six." Maybe "...on some days, I can leave around six," would be a better reading. Let's see if I can use it accurately, despite a spotty understanding, and see if Nirav, Clay, or Blue might be able to help iron out the wrinkles.

Ex. 私は 経済のことを心配しているけど、人によってはビジネスは前よりうまく行っているみたい。

140) ~による
~ because of
~ due to
~ is the cause of

Not looking a whole lot different from 138, huh? This is another case where the main difference is in how this phrase can be fiddled with grammatically, and how it finds its way into sentences. It's pretty much the same difference between 132 and 133, wherein this grammar point actually changes the focus of the sentence. The word preceding による acts as something of a modifier, whereas the actual subject is now the noun that follows it. And yes : it can only be followed up by a noun (or noun phrase).

Ex. 外国に住んでいるアメリカ人は、経済による不安を完全に理解できないと思う。

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


しし ふんじん
shishi funjin

has a cool feature that I just noticed: a list of the Yo-ji definitions that were accessed most often during the previous month. We've only hit one to our credit, 疑心暗鬼, but there are a few that struck me as pretty cool, so I figured we'd take care of a couple more.

獅子奮迅 functions as a noun. It means, literally, the lion's mad dash, but when you attach it to other nouns, using の, it works like an adjective, turning words like 働き, 勢い, or 挑戦 it makes those words more furious! I've even managed to find examples like 獅子奮迅の検索: furiously looking something up. Let's take a look at the Japanese definition to make sure we get the nuances right.

1. As ferocious as a lion.
2. Like mad.
3. Like crazy.
4. Furiously

One of the reasons that I thought that this was a good one was because of the kanji: 獅子. I had never come across kanji for lion before, as most of my students would just say ライオン. But the thing that struck me most about those kanji was the alternate definition: left-handed guardian dog at a Shinto shrine.

I'd heard the word 狛犬 before, and had been told that THAT's what the guardian dogs were called. Maybe they were right-handed ones?

Bonus Shinto Trivia:

Chinese Lion

狛犬 (こまいぬ;komainu)
Korean Dog

The 獅子 that you find at some Japanese 神社 are said to be a combination of the Chinese and Korean statues that serve the same purpose in their respective countries, and are thought to have made the crossover during the 7th and 8th centuries, at the same time as Buddhism was being introduced.... even though they're more often associated with Shintoism. They sometimes make appearances at お寺, but 仁王 are the more common guardians there. If you know or can find out any more about them, I'd love to hear it.

Both the 獅子 and the 仁王 are often posed in pairs, one with an open mouth and one with a closed mouth. To learn more about this, lets make Brett do research!

Breditt (Edit by Brett): The possible answers to that question are actually listed on the page you linked for 仁王. Since their explanation is concise despite its length, I'm going to go ahead and copy-paste it over here.

"Each is named after a particular cosmic sound. The open-mouthed figure is called "Agyo," who is uttering the sound "ah," meaning birth. His closed-mouth partner is called "Ungyo," who sounds "un" or "om," meaning death. Other explanations for the open/closed mouth include:

  • Mouth open to scare off demons, closed to shelter/keep in the good spirits
  • "Ah" is the first sound in the Japanese alphabet, while "N" (pronounced "un" ) is the last, so the combination symbolically represents all possible outcomes (from alpha to omega) in the cosmic dance of existence. "
END QUOTE. Note that they go into a little more detail about the aforementioned sounds as they apply to Sanskrit, but the above is the meat of it as far as Japanese speakers are concerned.

Thanks to Takada's fierce effort and example, the team's spirits rose and they were able to pull out a come-from-behind win.