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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!