All eyes upon you, Masao-kun

弱り目に祟り目
(Yowarime ni tatarime; “In a time of weakness, a curse”)

Definition:

To be beset by compounded troubles when things were already bad. To be kicked when you’re down. Having salt rubbed on your wounds. Things were already worrisome, then they got worse.

Breakdown:

Here we find two noun phrases joined by particle に (ni), “(added) to.” The first noun phrase begins with the verb 弱る (yowaru) “to become weak,” or by extension “to be troubled,” in conjunctive form. That’s right: you might expect a verb preceding 目 (me), which is most often the noun “eye,” to appear in prenominal form, but in this case the form is apparently conjunctive and 目 is acting as a suffix that indicates the state or condition something is in. (Note, however, that taken as a whole, 弱り目 seems to be acting as a noun.) Next we have a parallel construction using the verb 祟る (tataru), “to curse,” “to cause a bad result,” again in conjunctive form and taking 目 as a suffix.

Notes:

One variant replaces 弱り目 with 落ち目 (ochime), “waning fortunes,” based on the verb 落ちる (ochiru), “to fall.” Compare 泣き面に蜂.

Bear in mind that while the term 祟り目 can also refer to “the evil eye,” kaynahara, this saying refers to situations rather than literal weakened or accursed eyes.

Example sentence:

「どんなに弱り目に祟り目でも、大遅刻しそうな朝に父さんがリストラされたのを知らされて、更に虎に追いかけられるなんて夢にも思わなかった」

(“Donna ni yowarime ni tatarime de mo, daichikoku shisou na asa ni tousan ga risutora sareta no wo shirasarete, sara ni tora ni oikakerareru nante yume ni mo omowanakatta.”)

[“I don’t care how much ‘it never rains but it pours,’ in my wildest dreams I never would have imagined that on this morning when I’m running really late, I’d learn that my dad had been downsized… and then I’d be chased by a tiger!”]

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/PQ3E-u3MA3E

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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