Category Archives: Japan: Language

J-WOTD: 二足のわらじを履く

にそくのわらじをはく (nisokuno waraji wo haku)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

Two pairs of WarajiTo “Have one’s fingers in two pies“, or to “have the best of both worlds“. (Literally: To “Wear two pairs of straw sandles” – waraji being the straw sandles, pictured here.)

There are situations everyday where we would like to do two things at once, or be in two places at the same time. Sometimes this seems impossible right? As hard as having the best things from two worlds even? That’s how we English speakers express the concept, which seems a little to exaggerated when you think about it. Well, the Japanese have a more earthly approach, and think that the ideal analogy for having your fingers in two pies is, Continue reading

J-WOTD: 鰻登り

うなぎ登り Unaginoboriうなぎのぼり (unagi nobori)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

The eel, or “unagi”, not only has pride of place on the Japanese menu but, in the term unagi nobori, it also adds some rich flavour to the Japanese lexicon. Literally meaning “eel climb“, this delightfully descriptive term refers to something that is constantly growing or rising. Continue reading

J-WOTD: 倦怠期

けんたいき (kentaiki)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

I often hear colleagues at work and other Japanese friends talking about their relationships at home – married or otherwise. Some of the key words used these days seem to be セックスレス(sexless)、喧嘩多発(constant quarreling) and 離婚寸前 (thinking of divorce)…

I’m not going to go to deep into all of those now. However, this recent change in wording used by those around me, juxtaposed against the buzzwords of my university days (ラブラブ、あつあつ 、イチャイチャ etc) is a big contrast, and I suppose shows the age of the people around me, and maybe my age too (not “old”, but half way there I guess..). Continue reading

J-WOTD: 怪我の功名

けがのこうみょう (kegano koumyou)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

A “lucky mistake“, or “to come out of a mistake unscathed“. (Literally “Great feat from an injury”)

Once again, I heard this at work today. We had quite a serious mishap a few weeks ago, but we found it and fixed it before our SOX auditors did. It was unlucky (a 怪我, kega) for us, as we made the mistake, but very lucky that we found it when we did and are now able to include measures against doing it again in our operational procedures (hence the 功名, koumyou). It is also used quite colloquially in everyday language, in the sense of “talk about a lucky escape!”. A cool phrase. Should be put to use right away. Continue reading

Quick Japanese-English translations on Google

alc's online dictionryIf you’re like me, whenever you need a quick translation, you are probably a “regular” at the alc site. But what do you set as your home page if you are also a regular at both Google and Stippy? Now that there is a Google bar at the top of Stippy.com, part of that problem has been solved and sure, Stippy does include a link to alc on it’s links page, but it is far from the perfect solution. A little known function on Google might make your life a lot easier… Continue reading

Extra Firepower for Learning Japanese?

Canon WordTankFor anyone who has ever studied in Japan or is thinking of moving here and taking the plunge into a language that has three alphabets you will more than likely be lured by the electronic option. For me, who came to study in Japan with next to no Japanese ability, as with most foreign students even those that come here almost fluent, the benefits of using an electronic dictionary are clear. In the course of studying in a foreign language you can find yourself looking up scores of words a day, the ease and speed that electronic dictionaries present, especially when dealing with kanji where the reading or pronounciation of a word may not be obvious, is compelling. Continue reading

J-WOTD: しゃくに障る

しゃくにさわる (shakunisawaru)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

“grate on one’s nerves” or when used about a person, “gets on my nerves”
Examples:
「お嬢ちゃんと言われるのは、本当にしゃくに障るよ」
“Being called a ojyo-san really grates (gets) on my nerves”
「彼はしゃくに障るね」
“He gets on my nerves”, “He is a trying person”

J-WOTD: 袂

たもと (tamoto)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

As I was getting my daily dose today of Horie’s trial today on the livedoor higaisha nikki, I came accross the word tamoto. While it literally refers to the sleve of a kimono, it is generally combined with the verb 分かつ (wakatsu) and used to mean “to part ways”.

Example: 宮内被告は…堀江被告と袂(たもと)を分かつ決心をした状況を詳細に語った。 “Miyauchi explained to the court in detail the situation that lead him to choose to part ways with Horie.”

Continue reading