Good with rivers; bad with ideas
(Asai kawa mo fukaku watare; “Even in a shallow river, cross deep”)
Take care even with things that seem easy, or trivial in scope. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if a river seems shallow, ford it as cautiously as if you knew it to be deep, just in case.
We begin with adjective 浅い (asai), “shallow,” in prenominal form, attached to and modifying the noun 川 (kawa), “river.” This is given its function in the sentence by intensifier particle も (mo), which can be rendered here as “even.” The following independent clause begins with adjective 深い (fukai), “deep,” in conjunctive form and acting as an adverb. It precedes and modifies the verb 渡る (wataru), “to cross,” which appears in imperative form. The subject performing this verb is you, the listener, but as so often happens in Japanese it is elided.
Caution should be a familiar theme for kotowaza to address, as we’ve already seen several times before.
(“Shoujiki, ashita no kimatsu tesuto wa rakushou darou to omotteru. Demo, asai kawa mo fukaku watare to iu shi, yappari fukushuu shitokou ka na.”)
[“Honestly, I think tomorrow’s term test should be an easy A. But they do say to ford shallows as if they were deep, so yeah, I should probably review the material.”]
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