Back to back they faced each other


Literally: face/mask – obey – belly – back/defy

Alternately: Putting on a show of obeying or going along with someone while secretly opposing or resisting them, at least mentally. This defiance will likely manifest eventually, but as long as it exists within one’s heart, this compound is applicable.

Notes: While most learners of Japanese think of as one’s physical back, and may therefore be amused or stymied by 腹背‘s literal interpretation as “belly-back,” all that’s going on here is being disobedient (背く) in one’s belly (where emotions happen, you know – see also 腹が立つ, hara ga tatsu. “to get angry”).


Literalism strikes again! From this random blog post.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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