Print Story "Iikagen-ni-shiro!"
Ranting
By lylehsaxon (Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 04:50:47 AM EST) (all tags)
Just when I'm trying to be careful and quietly get myself safely to work without incident, I get on the Yamanote Line and suddenly there's someone pushing against the right side of my back as I get on - and as the doors close, they're still pushing away. Meanwhile, there's a man to my left and the closed doors straight ahead - no where to go! .....


..... The person keeps pushing in a strange way - the way someone might if they are from Mars and they're used to riding completely empty trains and don't understand what the Tokyo morning crush-rush consists of.

I tried to ignore it, but as the person kept pushing at me, I started thinking about it... it seemed less like someone really in a pinch and needing space than someone being weird, so I looked back and discovered a very mean looking woman in her fifties with one of those profoundly ugly brown bags from one of the "brand" bag sellers (good gig - I wish I was in on the money generated by those things - so long as I didn't have to look at them!), who has enough space for two people and has her bag arranged sideways so it pokes into my back, and is holding out a book to read with one hand and shoving at me with the other....

Gentle readers not intimately familiar with Tokyo's very high-density train system, you may even think that's normal behavior. No. It's not. Not in general, and certainly not during the morning crush-rush. As I took in that scene - 1) mean-spirited obatarian, 2) hideous brown bag being used not only as a visual eye-sore, but as a physical weapon, and 3) enough space for two people... something snapped and I spun around (knocking her off balance, since she was pushing on me with all her might) and told her "Iikagen-ni shiro!" (something like "That's enough!" or "Stop it already!"). (The expression is stronger in Japanese than that translation makes it seem). Her snarling expression changed to one of shocked surprise, and I turned around and faced the window again - getting off at the next station.

Agggghhhh.... I don't want to be be in conflict! This is what is typically (and relatively recently) called "kireru" (to snap, or lose control). Even in the cool of several-hours-later tonight, I still think that obatarian needed to have someone tell her that (she wasn't behaving like a civilized human being) - I just wish it was someone else and not me! I want to peacefully commute to work! I don't want to battle my way there! Mattaku!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~LLLtrs/

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"Iikagen-ni-shiro!" | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Off-topic, but. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 05:04:03 AM EST
Are Japanese verbs (and counting) really as weird as described in this thread?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Worse. by ReallyEvilCanine (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 05:22:20 AM EST
冗談ではありません。

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
Worse? なによりですかね? by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:33:50 AM EST
しかしですね、今朝の
The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
[ Parent ]
It got cut short... Here's another try by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:35:58 AM EST
My message got cut short - not sure why. Here's another go:

しかしですね、今朝の
The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
Weird! Okay - let's try just the last half then! by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:37:33 AM EST
How about this?:

「冗談じゃない」の表現はあてないですよ

Did that make it?
The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
One more bit... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:39:20 AM EST
Okay, to complete the sentence, but this between the first and second parts:


The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
Very weird... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:40:35 AM EST
The middle part was "baai", which in kanji form is blocked from posting for some reason....  Hmmm....

Lyle
The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
Sorry by hulver (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 11:32:25 PM EST
The database struggles with non-ascii characters sometimes.
--
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
[ Parent ]
Verbs aren't really weird by R343L (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:28:18 AM EST
They are pretty regular, but have forms and uses that are quite different than English.

I've never heard nouns described that way (the "-age" thing) but generally you don't pluralize nouns in Japanese you modify them with something that specifies which one(s) you're talking about. Obviously for specific amounts this feels weird to an English speaker because there are different counter suffixes for just about everything (although there are many that are used for many different similar shaped objects). For other descriptors ("the red ball(s)" versus "two ball(s)") it's not really much different than English (though word order is different).

But Chinese also has a counter system when specifying plurals of nouns, so it's not like Japanese is unique in this respect, even if it is "weird" to an English speaker.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Oops - I should have read all the posts first.... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:49:28 AM EST
Your reply handled that quite nicely - but I didn't see it until after I'd posted my bit...

Lyle

The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
Heh thanks by R343L (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:01:04 AM EST
But you probably have a much better real feeling for how it actually works -- you appear to be fluent. I'm barely adequate if I know the vocabulary in a conversation and when I force myself to speak ... which only leaves me with a more academic view point (I took Japanese linguistics as well as actual practical classes).

Rachael

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Could be, but... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:52:38 AM EST
Well, certainly I'm used to the language after living with it here for 24 years, but I lack a thorough understanding of the grammatical foundations of the language.  I learned mainly from children's books and comic books, and then watching TV, listening to radio, talking with people.  You'd probably ace me in a grammar test!

Lyle

The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
Yes & no... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:46:33 AM EST
Officially, counting in Japanese is very weird, but with each new generation it gets simpler because people don't bother to learn all the proper ways of doing it.  The general terms are hitotsu, futatsu, etc.  Certainly, some common things are adhered to, so the term for two people is futari, and the term for two animals is nihiki.  This explanation looks worse in English than it is in Japanese.  Every language has it's weird bits....

From the Japanese side, people wonder why all the hoops for singular and plural are necessary.  This is a computer.  These are computers.  This sort of thing is much simpler in Japanese.

Lyle

The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
actually to emphasize that point ... by R343L (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:08:33 AM EST
Japanese gets away with being less explicit in a lot of areas: subjects, objects, plurals, etc. are all often left out of explicit language because most of the time it's obvious what whatever is left out actually is. For instance, if you're talking to a friend and want to ask them if they are going to some mutually known about event (say a big party that happens every year), why would you need to specify "you"? It's possible you might be able to get away with a sequence of words that only explicitly specify "going next weekend?" but it's obvious what you're talking about. We actually do this in English a lot but not quite to the same degree and, since we're already fluent in it, are we generally aware that things are being elided -- we're used to it. But when you're learning a new language every omission can be confusing until you learn the patterns of when it's allowed and what the likely meaning is..

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
The missing bits... by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:48:23 AM EST
Indeed it is as you describe.  I've done some English teaching over here and its highlighted for me how much is left out - I often had to write in the missing bits to explain to people why/how a short sentence that was throwing them could carry so much meaning with so few words...

One quibble though - since I also do some (short - I'm not a whiz at it) translations, there are times when the omitted bits in Japanese are not so obvious!  With some technical documentation, this can be a real headache.  I'll need some more information to make a meaningful English sentence and the Japanese native speaker I'm doing the translation for can't answer some questions without tracking down the original author to discuss what they mean in more detail....

Lyle

The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

[ Parent ]
Ha! by R343L (2.00 / 0) #15 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 11:11:43 AM EST
I guess I'm not so surprised -- the language allows grammatical omissions all over the place, so if the author thinks it's obvious then he can!

Rachael

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Fuzzy Logic vs. Hard Logic by lylehsaxon (2.00 / 0) #16 Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:38:00 PM EST
I've actually heard from several Japanese native speakers that they find English instructions for machinery easier to understand than Japanese.  Personally, I find it far easier to say things from the heart in Japanese than in English.  And I think that's a sort of summation of the two languages respective strengths and weak points:

On the plus side:

  • English demands clarity and logic; and with machines, since they usually have a hard and fast logic, you can pin it down pretty precisely. 
  • Feelings, on the other hand, are fuzzy and illogical by nature, so fuzzy-logic Japanese works pretty well with them.
On the minus side:
  • English demanding clarity and logic gets in the way of accurate communication of feelings - thus we begin sentences in that category with "I don't know how to say this, but...; "This doesn't fit into words well, but..."; "I don't know what to say..."; "I don't know how this will sound, but...", etc. etc.
  • Japanese fuzziness interferes with clear and concise conveyance of some hard and fast logical things.  Thus there is fuzzy behavior even when there is no logical reason for it. etc. etc.
Lyle

The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....
[ Parent ]
"Iikagen-ni-shiro!" | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback