Kotowaza and the Like

So far, I have been most impressed with this reference book:

I would highly recommend advancing to reference books written in Japanese and for Japanese readers after completing Tobira or something similar. I wish I’d thought to do this way earlier. Then again, kotowaza and kanyouku aren’t incredibly necessary to study alone. They can be learned in context. Perhaps I’m just weird. However, I think everyone could benefit from studying a collocations reference book. What do you all do at your upper intermediate/beginning advanced levels?


Interesting. I’ll have to look for it.

I’m always fascinated by how often expressions are identical between different cultures. Sometimes it just the small details that differ. Some only exist in one culture. My favorite is when they teach exactly different lessons (my favorite is 出てる釘を当たる / The squeaky wheel gets greased).

Have you discovered any interesting new ことわざ in this book that you’d not heard before?

(Also, I’ll admit to having to look up the word “collocation”!)

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I’m in a furry otter over just now learning the word “collocation”!

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Sorry… run that one past me again?

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Sorry, bad joke. Obscure joke, anyway.

One English “collocation” (words frequently used together) is “in an utter fury over <whatever>.”

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There are many, many expressions that don’t have equivalents in English. However, sometimes meanings do overlap entirely. This overlap occurs much more often with kanyouku in my experience. Take this expression for example: 雨が降ろうがやりが降ろうが / Equivalent: “Come hell or high water”

While the things used to convey the idea may change, the meaning usually transfers quite nicely. As another example–while not being an expression in quite the same sense–I like to think of 開いた口がふさがらない as “to be slack-jawed”.

I’m glad I was able to change someone’s perspective on their approach to learning by introducing collocations! Many people use them without thinking about them at all. But to recognize these short phrases as potential study material will lead to improved fluency in a shorter amount of time. I say “shorter amount of time” because they don’t have to be studied directly. Most people likely pick them up with context and over time. Knowing more collocations makes it easier to converse, be understood, and comprehend things the first time in my experience though!

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