Tag Archives: Japanese

A silver lining, at ground level

雨降って地固まる (Ame futte ji katamaru; “The rain falls, and the earth hardens”) Definition: Before the rain, soil may be loose and crumbly. When the rain falls, it turns the ground soft and muddy. But after the rain has ended and … Continue reading

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With single solitary blade, the samurai his entrance made

単刀直入 tan.tou.choku.nyuu Literally: simple/single – sword – direct/frankness/repair – enter Alternately: Charging into a mass of enemies with just one sword to protect you. Getting straight to the point. Being direct instead of roundabout. Saying something point-blank without niceties or … Continue reading

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Nothing like a camel and a needle, though

瓢箪から駒が出る (Hyoutan kara koma ga deru; “A horse from a gourd”) Definition: Used to describe something that is completely unexpected, or something that was suggested as possible at least half-jokingly, but which actually comes to pass. Note that this can’t … Continue reading

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Standing on the shoulders of giants to see far

A yojijukugo for going back to school. 温故知新 on.ko.chi.shin Literally: warm – reason/cause/therefore – know – new Alternately: Learning from the past. Gaining new knowledge or wisdom through (thorough) study of the past. Moving forward with new ideas, based on … Continue reading

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Although I do say so myself…

自画自賛 ji.ga.ji.san Literally: self – picture – self – praise Alternately: Singing one’s own praises. Blowing one’s own horn. (Public) self-congratulation. Note: Although the 賛 can be translated as “praise,” in this case it refers to a tradition of writing poetry, … Continue reading

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Not the monkey’s paw; that’s very different

A new semester will be beginning soon. (Wish me luck in keeping up with my posting schedule!) Recently I went to a welcome lunch for the new Masters students in our department. One, from China, told me about a Chinese … Continue reading

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Said my Parents, with One Voice

異口同音 i.ku.dou.on Literally: Different – mouth – same – sound Alternately: “With one voice,” “in concert,” unanimous(ly) Notes: Keep in mind that 口 is pronounced ku rather than the more common kou.

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Counterintuitive Countermeasures

This week’s kotowaza was chosen, in part, to further demonstrate the use of the character 以 from Wednesday’s yojijukugo 以心伝心. 毒を以て毒を制する (Doku wo motte doku wo sei suru; “Use poison to control poison.”) Definition: “One poison drives out another.” Sometimes … Continue reading

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Another meeting of minds

This week’s yojijukugo was chosen for its thematic similarity to Sunday’s kotowaza. 以心伝心 i.shin.den.shin Literally: By means of – heart/mind – transmit – heart/mind Alternately: Tacit understanding. Sympathy; empathy; telepathy. “Communion of mind with mind.” [Youtube]

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Breathing Om, like Dogs

阿吽の呼吸 (Aun no kokyuu; “Breathing Ah–Un.”) Definition: Two parties, in a mutual activity, achieving a state of perfect mental, physical, and spiritual harmony. It’s common knowledge that there is a state one can enter when wholly concentrating on some activity, … Continue reading

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