When birds make you of a feather

Any reference to communism exist solely in the mind of the reader

(Shu ni majiwareba akaku naru;
Who associates with vermilion will turn red”)


People change to match their environments, for better or for worse. You grow to be like the people you associate with, so be careful when choosing your friends and associates. Mostly used in a negative sense, counseling someone to avoid bad influences. Apparently from the stain left on the hands of people who handled dyes.


We begin with the noun 朱 (shu), which describes the brilliant red made from cinnabar, or by extension any especially vivid red. Next is the directional or locational particle particle に (ni), in this case acting as “with,” followed by the verb 交わる (majiwaru), “to associate [with],” in hypothetical form. The following clause begins with the adjective 赤い (akai), “red,” in conjunctive form. This allows it to connect to the verb なる (naru), “to become,” in sentence-final form.


This saying apparently comes from the writings of 3rd Century CE poet Fu Xuan, where it’s part of a longer saying that couples it with a parallel assertion that being close to an ink stick will turn things black.

People misremembering this saying may replace 交わる with 混ざる (mazaru, “to be blended [with]”), or 赤くなる with 赤になる or 朱色になる (aka ni naru or shuiro ni naru). All of these are considered errors.

Example sentence:


(Shu ni majiwareba akaku naru koto wo osorete, shomin wo sakete kizoku to shika kakawaranai geijutsukatachi ga yami ni te wo someru jidai de atta.)

[It was an era when the artists, fearing that touching pitch would defile them, avoided the common folk and only associated with the upper class – and were corrupted.]

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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