Friday, June 27, 2014


You know, I keep intending to pick back up the pace around here and really get rolling again. And yet June is nearly over and this is post #2 for the month. Oi. I guess between having a girlfriend now and dividing my free time between gaming and productive outlets like translation, my energy to blog has suffered. 許してね。

I think I've talked about how when it comes to manga and Japanese reading, I prefer somewhat educational fare. Often they're called コミックエッセイ (comic essays). There's one I've been picking away at on and off for about a year now. Usually I go through them quicker, but this one is a little more difficult than the likes of ダーリンは外国人 (My Darling is a Foreigner) and 日本人の知らない日本語 (Japanese that Japanese People Don't Know). This one is called 意外に知らない間違いやすい漢字 (Unexpectedly Easy to Mistake Kanji), and as you might expect, the subject matter contains a lot of difficult kanji distinctions. Still, interesting material.

Throughout the book, characters talk with their teacher about Japanese characters, words, and expressions that perplex them or that they're unsure of. There's one frame at the end of a chapter where a character humorously mixes up two 四字熟語 (4-kanji compound idioms) about falling and is corrected by an old woman. That's what I wanted to share today.

In English we have expressions like "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" and "if you fall off your horse, get right back on." In Japanese, there's an idiom with a similar meaning:

七転八起 (しちてんはっき). Let's break it down for the sake of analysis. 七 (7), 転 (turn around, change; this kanji is often also paired to mean some kind of "fall"), 八 (8), 起 (get up). So somewhat literally "7 turns, 8 rises." Or stretching a little further, if you fall 7 times, get up 8. This expression is sometimes used to denote that life is full of ups and downs, but also as encouragement to keep trying.

On the other side of things...

七転八倒 (しちてんばっとう). Again we see 七転 (7 turns), plus 八 (8) 倒 (fall, collapse). So this time we have 7 "turns" or falls, and 8 more falls or "collapses." This basically means someone writhing in agony; they've fallen 7 times and collapsed 8 times (I picture someone doubling over and then falling completely afterwards instead of getting up).

I can't think of any similar English expressions for that second one. Any ideas?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Proper" names and the Tea Party

Sometimes it's difficult to tell which English words and terms get properly "Japanized" with kanji and everything, and which ones merely receive a cursory katakanization. This is in large part because, especially with more recently-coined words, they can sometimes be treated both ways.

The reason I bring this up is simply because in my daily work meetings, we discuss the news (mostly pertaining to telecom). On occasion, the material we read does range beyond that purview, hence why I've heard the term 「ティーパーティー」 (Tea Party) before. I had just assumed it was a standard katakana-grade word. But I just read a blurb that referred to the group as the 「茶会党」 - that is literally the "tea party party."

Interesting to note. I hadn't realized that 「茶会」 was a word, but there you go. It's also used to refer to the Boston Tea Party. ボストン茶会事件.

Look at that - I inserted politics again!