(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Previous senryu

  1. 亡夫の靴へふと足入れてみたくなり
    This sudden urge / to slip into my / dead husband’s shoes


  • 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.

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