(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

Those are awesome examples of an extremely subtle distinction. Both involving snow (a noun) falling. :grin:

I need to run out for a meeting but may have follow on questions/comments when I return.

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I’d be happier with them if “降っている雪みたい” had more google hits, mind you…

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Or even a senryu! :grin:

(うご)いてる・みたいの主語(しゅご)は・この(ぼう)()

(I suspect 亡馬 isn’t a real word, but based on recent poems it made me grin, anyway.)

Thoughts and comments

There is also an implied です after みたい. To me, that is the primary verb in this sentence, not 疲れる.

To me, the basic overall structure of the sentence is「◯みたいだ」which means “looks like ◯” where ◯ is a noun-like “thing” (technical term). It still seems to me that the entire first part of the sentence goes in the circle, not just the verb.

I think you’re saying 疲れてるみたい belongs together more than 彼は疲れてる. But surely 彼 is being modified — who else is looking or being a little 疲れてる?

In this instance, my brain thinks that the “verb phrase” 彼は少し疲れてる including the topic/subject belongs together and is what is in the ◯ of 「◯みたいだ」.

If I understand your point correctly, you’re saying that the basic structure is 「彼は◯だ」and 少し疲れてるみたい goes in this ◯.

If I’ve stated your point correctly, is either interpretation really wrong? If there’s a difference, it’s pretty minute.

Regardless, we both agree that this form of みたい is utterly different than the inflected ()る usage like 入れてみたい which is about trying something rather than looking like something.

Those examples are interesting, but have extremely subtle, nearly identical, meanings.

Still, I understand your point that in the the first sentence みたい mostly “operates on” 降っている, while in the second it more obviously operates on 雪 (a specific type of snow, 降っている雪).

To me, though, みたい operates on the entire first part of either sentence, with the distinction being only a slight change in emphasis (between snow and falling). It’s very similar to the distinction between は and が (which explains the length of this thread — I’ve seen an entire book on that topic).[1]

If I’ve interpreted your stance correctly, I hope this discussion has run it’s course. If I’m still misunderstanding something, please correct me.

Otherwise, I think both stances are valid, but I’m going to continue thinking that みたい operates on nouns or phrases that basically act like nouns (it’s easier for my pea-brain if I think about it that way).


  1. Bonus round: explain the difference between 雪降っているみたいだ and 雪降っているみたいだ! ↩︎

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Yeah, you can look at it like that – whether you think the topic is or is not ‘inside’ the ◯ doesn’t matter. The important thing I’m trying to get across is that in this sentence ◯ is not a noun-like thing; it’s a verb-like thing. (This is true both grammatically and meaning-wise.) Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be able to explain any better than my earlier attempts; I would encourage you though to go and have a look at the stuff on ‘mitai’ in your preferred grammar reference sources, for an alternate view.

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Ah! I think I finally understand your point. Thanks for bearing with me.

Interesting. Because the “verb phrase” in the circle includes a subject, 彼, I was thinking it was noun-like, but this is apparently incorrect. I still don’t understand why it’s verb-like, but your knowledge of grammar is well beyond mine, so I’ll take your word for it. I’ll have to ponder this on my own.

I’ll stop torturing everyone and accept the terminology.

I’ll publish the next senryu shortly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 亡夫の靴へふと足入れてみたくなり
    ぼうふのくつ・へふとあしいれて・みたくなり
    This sudden urge / to slip into my / dead husband’s shoes

Notes:

  • ふと〜 is an interesting word that means by chance, unexpectedly or suddenly, or “out of the blue”. A sentence like ふと思い出す means that something suddenly occurred to you.

  • 〜みたくなり means wanting to see/try something, or wanting to attempt/experience (literally “become desirous of seeing”).

  • There is an interesting custom in the Izu islands and elsewhere called 足入れ(こん) where the bride-to-be moves in with the husband-to-be and family temporarily, before the formal marriage ceremony. The consensus of the group is that this is a red herring, though, and unrelated to this senryu.

  • Apologies for the long diversion into a minor grammatical point. To summarize:

    • There are two forms of みたい.

      • One, as in this senryu, is a form of 見る and indicates a desire to perform some action: 靴に入れてみたい — I want to insert [my feet] into shoes. Since this usage is an inflection of a simple verb, it can be further modified: 靴に入れてみたくなりました.

      • The other form means that something resembles something else: 猫みたいだ — It looks (or acts) like a cat. The latter version never inflects (like みたく). It’s always simply みたい.

    • Further, in a sentence of the form ◯みたいだ indicating that something resembles something else, the part inside the circle can be a simple noun or an entire sub-phrase. A “verb phrase” like 彼は疲れてる is technically verb-like despite my brain wanting to think of it as a “thing” (noun-like).

  • Please correct me if I’ve got any of this wrong or if further clarification is warranted.

I won’t do this for every senryu, but this one’s grammar was sufficiently interesting that I thought it worthwhile to diagram how my brain parses this sentence:

The basic sentence structure is that the implied subject “I” became something. They became “desirous of trying something”. They wanted to try inserting feet. What they wanted to insert into was shoes. Their late husband’s shoes. They suddenly (ふと) became desirous.

I’m curious to hear people’s thoughts about this sort of sentence diagramming. Is it at all useful?

Someone much smarter than me would have to figure out a formal rule system to handle all Japanese sentence-diagraming situations. I’m sure it would be different than English sentence diagramming, but I found it useful to apply English diagramming rules to this senryu. The diagram shows how my brain parsed this sentence.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Seniors

  1. おねだりの孫の電話に陰の声

I think (hope?!) this one is pretty straightfoward!

My interpretation: I’m pretty sure it just means the grandchild’s voice changes when they want (are begging for) something!


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(ごげん)由来(ゆらい)辞典(じてん) 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.

A hint of sorts, if you want one: 陰の声 appears to be a phrase with a meaning specific enough to appear in JJ dictionaries, if not JE.

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Yes, I think it’s saying the grandchild’s voice becomes announcer-like (perfect diction, polite) when they want something.

Hmm. I have a different interpretation…

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Maybe that they are trying to disguise what they really want? Speaking in a roundabout way? Or that they are trying to ask the grandparent for something without letting someone else know that they are asking?

I’m not sure I completely understand even with the Japanese definition. What’s your interpretation? I’m lost.

Well, I’m definitely not sure, but I’m thinking it’s something like the grandparent can tell the kid’s mother has just said “quit pestering your gran” or something though she can’t hear the mother herself – like the quiz show mystery voice the audience can hear but the contestant can’t.

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I’ll ask my wife to give me an example of 陰の声. Even reading the definition, I’m still not clear on how it would apply to this situation.

Apologies for a sixty year old reference,[1] but I’m imagining George Fennemen on Groucho’s “You Bet Your Life” quietly announcing the day’s “secret word” to the audience, out of earshot from the contestants.

Maybe it’s that they get SUPER clear and to-the-point, rather than the usual disinterested mumbling when talking to gran as you say.


  1. it was the first thing that came to mind ↩︎

おねだりの・まごのでんわに・かげのこえ
The voice in the back / of grand child’s pleading phone call, / sotto voce, guides him

Notes:

  • 5-7-5, in order to cram the “sotto voce” in there.
  • 陰の声 reminded me of 影武者 (かげむしゃ, Kurosawa’s movie about a warrior’s body double), and I initially thought that the senryu was about a “voice double” - i.e. someone imitating the grandchild’s voice. :grinning: Right. @pm215 's link to the dictionary entry sorted out that confusion quickly.
  • The second point of confusion was who the voice was addressing - the grandparent? the child? The position of the に particle clarified that confusion.
  • Looks like the grandchild’s parents are using him as a lure to get the grandparent to do something - visit them, perhaps. Happens often enough.
  • The English version sounds right, makes sens, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is it one? After so many failed attempts, I know that in senryu-land one encounters many shockers, including: “this duck is no duck.” :sigh: とにかく、勉強になりました。

Lots of useful discussion (senryu and grammar related) around the previous entry. Thanks for the explanation.

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Oh! I was 100% focused on it being the grandchild. You’re absolutely right, it could be the parents in the background.

Good catch! Once again, paying attention to the tiny particles pays off. I’m not sure how it clarified anything other than expanding the possibilities, but it is open to at least three parties being involved in the call.

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おねだりのまごのでんわにかげのこえ

grandchild’s pleading
phone call has some help
in the background

I’m proud of myself for guessing the rough meaning of 陰の声 correctly without needing the definition, though my first thought was that it referred to the grandchild begging the parent for something in the background of the parent’s phone call to their own parents. But this way around makes way more sense grammatically and also seems a much closer match with the actual connotations of 陰の声.

Maybe the grandchild is asking the grandparent for money for school or something? :sweat_smile:

(I was having some trouble getting this to post, so hopefully it doesn’t show up twice :see_no_evil:)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. おねだりの孫の電話に陰の声
    おねだりの・まごのでんわに・かげのこえ
    grandchild’s pleading / phone call has whispers / in the background
    In grandchild’s phoned / plea — mystery voice, / sotto voce

Notes:

  • (かげ)(こえ) means a “mystery voice”, the voice of an announcer on a game show or whatever giving the audience an answer without letting the contestants hear it. Presumably, the grandchild is getting prompts from the parents when asking the grandparent for something.

  • The key for me was @LaVieQ’s realization that more than the caller and the recipient could be involved in 〜の電話(でんわ) — I thought it was the grandchild speaking with 陰の声, but it makes more sense if it was the parents in the background.

  • I liked “sotto voce” a lot for 陰の声. It’s a perfect substitution, but 5-7-5 felt a bit too wordy. “Whispers in the background” still missed the mark and is wordy itself, but seemed to at least approach the meaning. “Whispers” seemed a hair closer to the original than “some help” which introduces an idea that is likely correct but not actually present in the original.

  • I eventually massaged it into the final 4-5-4 I’ve chosen to go with. It actually sounds senryu-like to my ear! “Mystery voice, sotto voce” for 陰の声 seems perfect.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Salaryman

  1. アレどこだ!? アレをコレする あのアレだ!

Oh boy. No kanji! Should be a fun one to translate.

I’m not 100% certain I’ve understood it at a glance, but I’ve two hints:

  1. It uses some colloquialisms with dropped particles, etc.

  2. It might be easier to follow if you say it aloud with plenty of hand gestures for the second sentence!

Good luck!


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(ごげん)由来(ゆらい)辞典(じてん) 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.


Once again I felt the urge to diagram yesterday’s senryu. This may only be of interest to me, but I think it might be useful for other beginners like myself to attempt to create your own. It helps me to better understand the basic grammatical structure for some of these:

The basic core of the senryu is the sentence 電話に[ありました].

I’d love to know if there is any interest at all in this. I’d recommend trying your hand at it, though. I’ve no idea if I’m doing it correctly (or if it’s even possible in such a different language), but breaking down the constituent parts as modifiers and distilling the basic core of the sentence seemed quite useful to me.

One judgement call: in “stacked の’s” like this it isn’t clear if おねだり is modifying (まご) or 電話(でんわ). I think it could be attached to either in this case.

My attempt below. I’m procrastinating — I should be updating the spreadsheet and doing my reviews.

Where’s the thing?! For that thing — does this. That thing!

3-5-2 but I think it works. Or it would if we could somehow include gestures.

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Don’t have to provide a reading today!

where is it!?
the thing that does this,
that—that thing!

The thing I struggled with the most in this was trying to fit it into a 3-5-3, but I think my solution (which was basically cheating) actually enhances the meaning, so it worked out, haha.

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Where angels fear to tread … (I fear mentioning a grammar question again :sweat_smile:)

I struggled a bit with the weird broken grammar of the middle bit.

The を makes me think the second アレ is a different thing than the first アレ. Does that make sense?

That is, I think アレをコレする means “does this with that other thing”. “It” and “thing” are the same thing throughout your translation, but there are two distinct things in mine. I’m not sure that I’m correct, but the を confuses me otherwise.

I initially worded mine as:

Where’s the thing?! That does this with that thing. That thing!

But the repetition at the end didn’t work as well. (Edit: At least not without italics.)

I think part of what’s confusing about it is that アレをコレする doesn’t really translate smoothly into English if you translate too literally (not that it’s the smoothest Japanese :sweat_smile:). To me, it reads like “thising a that” (So, アレをコレする あのアレだ is sort of “that ‘thising a that’ thing”). Presumably the speaker is physically demonstrating an action to show how the アレ they’re looking for is used, because the name of the object is escaping them at the moment. In English, you’d probably word that as “the thing that does this”.