(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

Lots of non-spring chicken here, including me. I’m enjoying taking 日本語 at my own pace without nary a goal or objective…

It took me a while to shed my old competitive approach to learning Japanese, but I did manage to get over it, thank the good Lord. If the going is slow, so be it - as long as I keep at it, I’m fine.

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I saw the discussion for this one, and the puzzle of how to translate it captured my attention. I just started reading a guide on Japanese-English translation by Judy Wakabayashi, and it’s giving me a lot of ideas. It’s also helping me get more away from thinking of translation in terms of word-to-word and more in terms of meaning-to-meaning, which is important.

One thing the book mentioned is adding in additional words to clarify culturally specific concepts. Obviously, with a senryu, you don’t really have a lot of synonym real estate to spare for additional qualifying details, but with this one, I let myself go back to the 5-7-5.

Here was what I ended up with:

イチロウをこえたとにろうのむすこいい

“surpassed the first-born
ichiro!” declares niro,
the proud twice-failed son

I had to add in “proud” in that last line to hit the 5 syllables because I didn’t want to rearrange the sentence into “the son who failed twice”, because I wanted to keep the snappy parallel with “first-born”. I also decided to keep it all lowercase to add ambiguity with the names/descriptors.

Rrwrex isn’t going to like this one because it’s an attempt at a meaning-to-meaning translation rather than a word-for-word one, but I feel like a non-literal translation is the only way to preserve the pun here, unless an extensive footnote is included.

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On the contrary! This is my favorite attempt for this one so far.

Meaning-for-meaning with as few new words introduced or original words unused as possible is not a bad way to describe what I prefer.

When it’s a pun like this one, word-for-word is only possible in the extremely rare instances where the words in the destination language can also be turned into a pun.

My only nit is that to me, “first born” vs “twice failed” isn’t really the pun. I think it’s simply about 2 being greater than 1. It does depend on the homonyms (ろう) and (ろう), but イチロー is just the name of a famous ballplayer. That 一郎(いちろう) literally means “first born” (vs. first any-other-rō) seems irrelevant for the pun to work.

This is subtle and hard to explain, but to me the senryu means something like:

My 2-rō [twice failed] son said “Hey, I’m better than Ichirō [1-rō]!”

But that requires parenthetical explanations. I suspect a better English translation than yours (in 3-stanza senryu form) is impossible. Even a pure meaning translation without senryu form seems to require parenthetical commentary to explain the pun no matter what.

The explanation notes for this one in the spreadsheet will be a doozy!


Also, @LaVieq: I think I forgot to add a few new submitters to the second tab in the spreadsheet. I’ll try to catch up when I’m back and can focus, but please double check my work then if you don’t mind. I know a few more people have joined us (hooray!).

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The thing about this, though, is that meaning-for-meaning is impossible if you preserve the words too much. I could quote sections from the book I’m reading on this subject if you’d like haha. Japanese and English are simply very different languages, and there are many times where keeping the direct words actually means you lose meaning because how something is phrased in Japanese is not necessarily how that same thing would be phrased in English. Sticking too close to a direct word-for-word translation of the Japanese can add awkwardness to the sentence or add other connotations that are not present in the original, and which fundamentally makes the translation mean something different.

Well, there are two things my translation changes: it adds a meaning to the name “Ichiro”, and then a name “Niro” to the meaning twice-failed. In Japanese, those clarifications aren’t necessary (because the reading and meaning are taken together), but it feels necessary to me in English to spell out that there is wordplay happening. The significance of “ichi” in Ichiro will be lost to English-speakers otherwise.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be first “born”, but you’re simply not going to get a one for one equivalent with this one. “1-rō” in English is a meaningless concept. But “firstborn” is a very common English phrase, and it fits the sense of competition and desire to surpass, and it’s also the literal meaning of the kanji used to spell the baseball player’s name.

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This is a better version, which I will use in summarizing the submissions. However, it needs a few fixes which I will make in the final version:

  • The name 一郎 means “first son” of the family, and not the “first born” (although Ichiro Suzuki may well be the first born, too).
  • Having failed twice, the son is not “proud,” but coping with the disaster by making a feeble joke around a clever pun.
  • The straightforward meaning of “niro, the proud twice failed son” is “Proud son (named) niro, who failed twice.”

As @Rrwrex noted, it still needs explanation in a foot note to get the pun, irony, and humor across.

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Friday, August 19


Previous senryu

  1. イチローを越えたと二浪の息子言い

イチローを・こえたとにろう・のむすこいい
“Surpassed Ichiro / (‘first son’)!” declares my son, the / niro (‘twice-failed’).

This senryu puns on a similar sounding Japanese name & a word that is extremely difficult for learners to decipher. But, thanks to the excellent hints provided by @Myria and @weaverZ, as well as an equally good translation by the latter the meaning became clear in short order. Excellent collaboration and teamwork! お疲れ様です。

Confirmation and comments on the senryu from my 日本語先生:

野球で素晴らしい業績を持つ「イチロー」だけれど、息子は「一浪(いちろう)」ではなく「二浪(にろう)」なので「イチローを超えた」(「一(いち)」より上の「二(に)」)と自虐的 に言ったのだと思います。

息子は本心ではきっと「『また』失敗した/不合格だった」と落ち込んでしまっていると思いますが、そんな気持ちを隠し、親たちを心配させないように、と「(自虐的に)笑い」にしているのかもしれません。

Notes:

  • The pun: イチロー is the nickname of the famous baseball player Ichiro (一郎, or いちろう, or 一ろう) Suzuki. The son of the author of this senryu has failed the Japanese university entrance exam a second time, which makes him a 二浪 (にろう), short for 2nd time 浪人 (see meaning 2). Since に (二) is bigger than いち (一), the son says jokingly that he, にろう、has surpassed Ichiro Suzuki, who is, after all, only an いちろう。
  • Translating this senryu into English without footnotes is impossible due to the embedded pun which is based on words for a Japanese name and contemporary University entrance exam phenomenon
  • The 5-7-5 English translation captures the key point of the original, but is more an explanation of the original, rather than a senryu in its own right. As they say, しょうがないよ! Still, students of 日本語 may be able to get the meaning by reading it alongside the original.
  • The translation is a modified version of @fallynleaf 's, with changes for clarification, as noted in a separate response.
  • TIL from my Japanese friend that in Japan イチロー, written so in kana, always refers to the baseball player. She also mentions that Ichiro Suzuki is known for his arduous, strenuous baseball practice in his youth, which makes what the son says a bitter joke (this was also noted by 先生).

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Salaryman

  1. 一番湯パパの後には入浴剤

Today’s senryu is about the order in which members of a household use (or reuse) the お風呂の湯

Hints:

- The reasons for using 入浴剤 may be a good starting point to figure out this senryu.


Remember to please use the spoiler tag with your translation attempts! Also, please include the reading in kana with your submission.

Everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter your level! Questions and comments are as valued as translation submissions.

Please try not to be disappointed if your translation isn’t selected or if you disagree with the daily choice: the judge isn’t terribly consistent with his grading (and has awful taste!).
Online tools like dictionaries, sentence databases, and even AI translation engines are fair game and can be extremely helpful. Yomichan is particularly handy if you use the Chrome or Firefox browser. The 語源由来辞典 is also an excellent resource for researching the etymology of various words and expressions.

Here are the links to the 356 Japanese originals (spoiler free) and to the the spreadsheet with all the upcoming senryu as well as the translations to date.

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I didn’t pay attention to the second tab either. I will take a look at it tomorrow. Rest of today is quite busy for me.

EDIT: Did a quick check and added a few names…

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I feel like I’m missing something crucial here, but this is what I’ve got

いちばんゆぱぱのあとにはにゅうよくざい
Best - hot water - after papa - (toward/topic) - bath salts

Ah…. Thinking about how this is related to “salaryman” I think it clicked? Maybe? Dad (the salaryman) gets a long soak in the best/freshest water. Afterwards the writer makes do by adding bath salts?

After papa / soaks in the best water / we add bath salts

I debated between we or I, since the original doesn’t specify. I went with “we” since that reinforces the notion of order- dad goes first, then the rest of the family.

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:grinning: I feel that every time I stare at a senryu for the first time! I call it “the Senryu deja vu” - that familiar feeling I know I’ve had before, of missing something, but can’t exactly remember it now, although the feeling is the same.

Then there’s “the Senryu schadenfreude” that one feels when (after one’s interpretation goes horribly wrong) someone else interprets it horribly wrong. Oh, yes, “you’re not alone!” LoL!

Life is rough in these Senryu wilderness where everyone is seeking meaning.

Joking aside, I think you’re on it and the chase is on! :wink:

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Yes, this was basically my interpretation. The whole family is sharing the same bathwater, so the father gets the first/best bath, then the family adds bath salts, either because the father doesn’t like them, or to make the used water more pleasant.

いちばんゆパパのあとにはにゅうよくざい

after papa
gets the first hot bath,
we add bath salts

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Any insight into the use of パパ instead of ちち? Is it just the propensity for katanglish cropping up again?

No special insight! I’m guessing maybe the author chose it to give the senryu a little bit of unique flavor? Or maybe it comes across as more personal this way? Who knows!

The two takes of it are good, but I’m wondering, “Where’s the senryu bite?” It’s that “something is missing” feeling…

Could it be: “Ofuro priority: dad first, bathing additive second (so water stays fresh)” - a snide dig on dad’s turn in the water requiring it to be treated before others take their turn?

Then again, should every senryu have a bite to it? Am I reading too much into this senryu? Should we mull it over in the ofuro for another day? :wink:

I think パパ and ママ are now normal, everyday katanglish words. That usage seems to be universal, adopted by a section of the urban population around the world.

Sunday, August 21


Previous senryu

  1. 一番湯パパの後には入浴剤

いちばんゆ・パパのあとには・にゅうよくざい
Dad enters the / hot tub first. Next to / get in - bath salts.

Notes:

  • Traditionally, it was customary for men of the household to use the Japanese home Ofuro first, followed by the women folk. There is a defined 入浴の順番。(Internet suggests that this custom is not strictly followed anymore.)

  • The 4-5-4 English translation is a modified version of @fallynleaf ’s to include the humorous bit in the senryu about the order that is followed in the author’s house (パパ > 入浴剤), around the word 入浴.

  • TIL: Apparently, being the very first to get into the Ofuro is not such a good thing from a health perspective, as noted at the end of the linked article above.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Heartfelt

  1. 亡夫の靴へふと足入れてみたくなり

Poignant and easy enough, I think.

Hints:

  • ヒントなし

Welcome back, @Rrwrex !


Remember to please use the spoiler tag with your translation attempts! Also, please include the reading in kana with your submission.

Everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter your level! Questions and comments are as valued as translation submissions.

Please try not to be disappointed if your translation isn’t selected or if you disagree with the daily choice: the judge isn’t terribly consistent with his grading (and has awful taste!).
Online tools like dictionaries, sentence databases, and even AI translation engines are fair game and can be extremely helpful. Yomichan is particularly handy if you use the Chrome or Firefox browser. The 語源由来辞典 is also an excellent resource for researching the etymology of various words and expressions.

Here are the links to the 356 Japanese originals (spoiler free) and to the the spreadsheet with all the upcoming senryu as well as the translations to date.

1 Like

I made it back uneventfully late last night. (The outbound trip was a horror story.)

Many, many, thanks to @LaVieQ for keeping this going while I was on vacation. Truly a yeoman’s work and sincerely appreciated. (It occurs to me that “yeoman’s service” would be a good term to squirrel away for future translations!)

Translation attempt

  1. 亡夫の靴へふと足入れてみたくなり

I’m out of practice, I forgot to include the reading! This one’s weird, too. 6-8-5?

ぼうふのくつ・へふとあしいれて・みたくなり

Thoughtless desire:
insert my feet in
late husband’s shoes

Poignant indeed. Anyone that has lost someone can understand the feeling.

Explanation:

ふと…する means to happen [chance] to do something, or for it to occur to you (suddenly or unexpectedly). Also, …みたくなり means to want to see or want to experience (literally “become desirous of seeing”).

It was tricky to combine these two meanings into English. The poem is about the spouse wanting to feel close to her husband again by inserting her feet into her dead husband’s shoes. The word “thoughtless” isn’t in the original, but I couldn’t figure out any senryu-like way to express this without introducing a word.

I’ll take over again tomorrow. And will try to finish all the updates to the top post today (it’s a fair bit of work though, so it may take a while).

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I had more to say about this than I thought when I started. It’s interesting how writing it out forces me to clarify my thinking.

ぼうふのくつへふとあしいれてみたくなり

足入れ

The dictionaries I’ve checked all define this term as “tentative marriage” with no further information, so I think there’s some cultural context/play on words that I only have a hazy grasp on. Or maybe the “tentative” part isn’t important, and this is just word play with a term that could mean either “marriage” or “putting on shoes”

みたくなり

I think the usage of み instead of 見 in みたくindicates that it means “looks like”, or “seems” rather than “want to see”. なり has a lot of possible meanings, including “to be” or “or something” so it’s a little on the vague side.

I think it is an unlikely coincidence that たくなり is only one sound off from なくなり, the stem form of 亡くなる. It feels to me like attempting to deny his death while simultaneously being unable to escape it. I also think it is key that she opens with 亡夫, establishing from the first word the reality she is trying to hide from.

Current theory: the author realizes that failing to remove her late husbands shoes inadvertently allows her to imagine that he is only gone temporarily. 足入れ does double duty in that the shoes appear to be waiting for the husband to put them on again, and also make it seem as though she is still married.

My late husband’s shoes
let me think he will return
to wear them again

I’m sad now. Reminds me of how my mom left my dad’s voice on the answering machine for a good 15 years.

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Interesting! The Japanese definition is apparently 正式な結婚前に、嫁が婿の家に入って暮らすこと. I’ve never heard of 足入れ婚 custom before. Apparently it’s common in the Izu islands: the bride lives in the family’s house temporarily before the formal marriage ceremony. If I understand correctly, 婿の家 means the home of the future-husband and his parents, not modern “living together” with just the two of them alone before getting hitched.

In this case, I think it’s just the simple verb 入れる and nothing to do with the 足入れ custom. Heaven knows I’ve been wrong before, though.

If I heard someone say 足を入れてみたい I’d understand it as wanting to try putting their feet in. I’m unsure, but doesn’t changing it to みたくなり just mean that they are starting to feel the desire to do so?

As you say, it’s poignant for sure. I can’t imagine anything more painful than parting with a late spouse’s (or child’s) personal items.

But I think the poem simply means that when she chances upon his shoes she wants to put her feet in (perhaps to somehow feel close to him again).

Just my opinion, of course, but I’m afraid I don’t quite buy みたくなり・なくなり as an intentional rhyme/inference. That seems a bit of a stretch. (Again: see all my prior wrongness in this thread!)

Similarly, “let me think he will return” also seems to read more into the original than is actually there. It’s an understandable sentiment with a late husband, but I’m leery of adding anything not actually in the original.

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your limerick is beautiful :sob: bravo !!

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ぼうふのくつ・へふとあしいれて・みたくなり

This sudden urge
to slip in to my
dead husband’s shoes

4-5-4 Certainly heartfelt. Although, after I posted it in the morning, I started asking myself, “Why the shoes? Why not the shirt?” Perhaps she returns home and and finds the husband’s shoes/boots, still sitting in the 玄関?

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