On words, the eating thereof

If it happens too often, you might want some grains of salt.

前言撤回
zen.gen.te-.kkai

Literally: before – say – withdraw – revolve

Alternately: “I take it back.” A phrase that negates a previous phrase, opinion, or comment.

Notes: This “practical” yojijukugo doesn’t appear as such in many dictionaries; it appears to be parsed less as a “four character compound” than as “a compound phrase that happens to have four characters.”

It seems that while this phrase can be used in a straightforward way when you’ve said or thought something that you no longer agree with, it can also take on an ugly connotation. A “take-back” arising from sincere regret is okay, but slyly disavowing something awful that you still support for the sake of a moment’s convenience can make the same phrase into a cheap and dishonest dodge.

ZenGenTeKkaiShinji

Shinji regrets giving Asuka the benefit of the doubt – from 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Volume 4, by Yoshikyuki Sadamoto

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.
This entry was posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s