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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

表現 Break: その場限り...

We've talked about 九州男児 on this site a few times before, but just to refresh your memory, men from the island of 九州 have a well-deserved reputation in Japan for being the epitome of masculinity in good and bad ways. The only concrete details I was ever able to glean about what makes a 九州男児 were these: They are very strong-willed and they make their women walk three steps behind them. Brett elaborated on them some in 亭主関白, but for an outsider, the definition remained elusive. It makes a great conversation topic, though, and just knowing about the existence of 九州男児 is enough to raise a few eyebrows.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I found a book on the topic in my local Kinokuniya! 九州男児の解説書:Manual of Kyusyu Man.

Now I can explain all sorts of aspects of the 九州男児 personality, like: they're quick to say whatever comes into their mind. They have a habit of referring to even people who they've just met as 「アンタ」 which, like 「お前」, is familiar at best, and insulting at worst; this gets them into trouble when they're outside of 九州. There's all sorts of good stuff, even things that apply to me and Brett, since we've had the benefit of being acclimated to Japan in Kyuushuu. 「とんこつ」以外はラーメンと思っていない; If it ain't Tonkotsu*, it ain't ramen.

For the purpose of today's 表現 post, we're going to focus on one that gives us an idiomatic use for an old grammatical friend: 限り.

その場限り
その ば かぎり
sono ba kagiri


九州男児の友情は「その場限り」と心得るべし。
You should understand that a Kyushuu man's friendship, while generous, can be fleeting.

That's an 意訳 that's informed by reading the rest of the section, but the idea of その場限り is clear: confined to a certain place, time, or situation.

Nagasaki, with it's rich history as Japan's 玄関口 and Fukuoka's busy Hakata, brought a lot of different kinds of people into Kyushuu. The folks there were exposed to a lot of commercial traffic, which meant a lot of fleeting relationships. It's not at all uncommon for people to meet, 意気投合して, have a great time, and have that be the end of it. その場限りの友情.

You can use this expression for pretty much anything that is contained or limited in a similar way. Check some examples below.

その場限りつもりだったけど:I didn't intend for it to keep going, but...

その場限りの嘘をつく:Lying, but only in those circumstances.

その場限りの付き合い、その場限りの関係、その場限りの愛情, all kinds of great usages.

See when and how you can use it. And hey, even if you're not in Japan or in Kyushuu, keep the 九州男児 in mind, in case you ever meet anyone from here. I promise you, the conversation will be well worth it.

* とんこつラーメン (tonkotsu ramen), originally from Hakata, I think, is made with a milky pork-bone broth that smells god awful and tastes like heaven. As the book explains, it's not that people from Kyushuu don't like soy-sauce based or other ramen broths, it's just that we don't consider them to be ramen. If you say ramen, we think tonkotsu.

1 comment:

Emi said...

"Sono ba kagiri" is a good one to learn, because we sometimes hear it in conversation. (^^)
"Sono ba kagiri no Otsukiai" sounds very sad, but sometimes that's what we need to live in our society. If you have a nasty naighbor, you may have an option to change your place, murmuring "Sono ba kagiri no Otsukiai."
However, if you use this expression in person, oops, you'll be in trouble.