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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Japanese Language Trivia of the Day:

やーーーーーー

Yeah, we're still rolling with the や行 over here, and today that means a great word to know for your Japanese traffic accidents, subway suicides, dolphin slaughterings, arsons... what else is morbidly entertaining?

野次馬
やじうま
yajiuma

Rubbernecker; Gawker;
Spectators of something not intended for spectating (see explanation below).

Baseball game: × Motocross rally: ×
House fire: ○ Car accident: ○
Indulge me by letting me give you a quick explanation of where this one comes from. The 野次 bit can be used on it's own to mean to heckle or to jeer (used like this: 野次を指す) but they're actually 当て字, chosen to fit the meaning of this phrase a little bit better.

The original phrase actually began as 親父馬 (おやじうま; old man horse) which was what you called a horse that was too old to be used for either riding or labor, but which, for some reason, you haven't yet shipped off to the 糊 factory.

An old useless horse, just standing around taking in the scenery then became a metaphor for people with no business being involved in something, loafing around, scoping it out anyway. It kind of connotes blowing off your own responsibilities (responsibilities like driving your car at a reasonable speed) to indulge in something undignified (gawking at a flipped k-car on the side of the road, for example).

I'm not sure if rubbernecker, or rubberneck is an Americanism, but now that I've been in Japan, I can't ever hear it without thinking of the original rubbernecker, 轆轤首。

5 comments:

Maj said...

Hi! I'm a spanish guy and I don't know how I met your website xDD Sorry for my bad enlgish... In the next months I will try to put some english in my blog and make a INTERNATIONAL blog xdd
Well, I only congratulate on your incredible efforts in making this website and I hope we can talk another time (And explain to me life in Japan and stuff)
Nice to meet you and see you again!

Randomkrazy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randomkrazy said...

I tried to get the deck for anki and I think the link is bad? can you double check it?

http://http//ichi2.net/anki/wiki/PreMadeDecks?action=AttachFile&do=view&target=thedailyyoji.anki

jeremy said...

This reminds me a lot of the term we have in poker called "railbirds." These are the annoying people that watch poker games usually waiting to give useless advice or beg for money after you win.

Anonymous said...

語源を知ると面白いですね。
よくあるのが国会議員が野次を飛ばす(Congress jeers)
野次馬がたかる(”たかる”は 群がる感じです。