(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

百年後ほとんど死んでる今の人

ひゃくねんご・ほとんどしんでる・いまのひと

Hundred years hence,
most of those alive
now will be dead

  • 4-5-4. However, not so confident about my translation, which is based on this book description.
  • Meaning seems to be roughly the same as “In 100 years we’ll all be dead anyway” (or, “Don’t worry, be happy!”).
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Yeah, that’s the “happiest” interpretation I could come up with, too!

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Once again, I feel like I am missing a big chunk of cultural context here. Is this senryu a reference to that book? They are strikingly similar. Otherwise the senryu seems like a rather uninteresting statement of fact.

I translate the title along the lines of “we’ll all be dead in 100 years, so stop worrying, a how to guide”. I should probably read that book.

But also it gives me “Dr Strangelove: how I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb” vibes

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Maybe? I kind of feel the same way, but suspect it’s less Japan-cultural-context and more that at least a few of the 354 senryu in the original list will be a bit of a clunker.

I can’t imagine any other way to interpret this one, but will ask my wife when she’s free.

Pretty sure it’s just “we’re all gonna die eventually, no reason to sweat things”. 仕方が無い


This triggered a memory from when my elder daughter was around 5 or 6 years old. We were driving past a small grove of trees and out of nowhere I hear from the back seat “These woods must be full of dead people.”

Startled, we all turned to look at her and ask why she said that. She said, “Well, people have lived for thousands of years, right? Where did all the dead people go? Some cavemen must have died without being buried in cemeteries!”

Bemused but without much to say, we all just turned around and kept driving. :laughing:

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LoL! Now, there’s a visual - Col Kong riding that bomb all the way down while reciting the senryu, as the end titles roll.

Come to think of it, the senryu is quite appropriate from a “Japanese culture” POV, since the Japanese sweat the details so much. Rules, ways of doing things, etc. run amok and govern the daily lives so much to make life stressful. Perhaps the senryu is just saying “Chill out and go with the flow.”

I’m not sure that it is related to that book I found by googling. There were a couple of other such web pages as well. For instance, this one starts off from a slightly different place, but ends up with the same sort of conclusion.

2 Likes

Saturday, September 10, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 百年後ほとんど死んでる今の人
    ひゃくねんご・ほとんどしんでる・いまのひと
    Hundred years hence, / most of those alive / now will be dead

Notes:

The consensus is that this is basically a “don’t sweat the small stuff” message.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Universal truths

  1. 臨終を旅立ちとする人の知恵

Geez. Another knee-slapper.


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.

1 Like

My interpretation:

  1. 臨終を旅立ちとする人の知恵

りんじゅうを・たびだちとする・ひとのちえ

On their deathbed,
people departing are
full of ideas

It’s a weird 4-6-5, but I think “full of ideas” captures the meaning more than the normal translation of “wisdom” for 知恵 (despite the 3-syllables in “ideas”). One dictionary definition is 物事を考え (“thoughts about things” lol).

Faults:

  • “on their deathbed” isn’t a very direct translation for 臨終. The real definition is the moment or occasion of death, but I couldn’t think of a better way to word it.

  • It’s a bit of a cheat to translate ◯とする人 as “people ◯ing” but I think it captures the meaning. If anyone has suggestions for how to better create a more direct translation that captures this grammatical structure, I’d love to see it.

2 Likes

The wisdom of / people who see death / as a journey

Grammar: I take this to be XをYとする == to treat/view/see X as being Y. This verb-phrase then modifies 人.

Haven’t bothered to cut-n-paste the reading since I agree with @Rrwrex on that.

7 Likes

I tend to agree with the grammar, but (especially since it’s a senryu) I still suspect that “are full of ideas” might be closer to the meaning. Despite the “universal truths” category, a slight element of humor still seems likely.

Note that the Y here is 旅立ち and not 旅立(たびた)つ. It’s a noun that has to go with the する to become a verb, so despite the weird reordering I effectively interpreted it as 旅立ちすると. That is, I read it as a と for a strong causal relationship. Am I off base?

So, can XをYとする人 be translated as “people doing Y with X” (in this case, “people who are departing on their deathbed”)?

That usage of と requires a verb in front of it, and as you note, we don’t have a verb in this case, we have a noun.

XをYとする wants X and Y to be nouns, so we’re fine there. (eg 彼女は辞書を枕として横になった。)

If I wasn’t trying to compress the translation into the poetic format I might have gone for something like “people who treat dying as embarking on a journey” – in English ‘dying’ and ‘embarking on a journey’ are also both noun phrases.

No, I don’t think so. Depending on the X and Y it could be “people doing X with Y”, eg ゲームを友達とする人. But you can’t “臨終をする” so that parse is no good for us.

The other thing I wondered about was whether the を with verbs of movement was in play here, making the deathbed the point of departure. You can say 島で暮らす最後の子どもたちが、この春島を旅立ちました。 “…they left the island this spring”; but I’m less sure that works with 旅立ち the noun, and then you need to do something with とする, so this doesn’t feel right overall.

3 Likes

But 臨終 is not really a location anyway, right? In the dictionary it’s 死に臨むこと。また,死ぬこと

2 Likes

Yeah, that too. I discarded the idea before getting down to checking the definition of 臨終 for whether it fit.

1 Like

You’re right, we’ve definitely got 「<noun> を <noun> とする」so I think this article gives plenty of good examples.

石油(せきゆ)原料(げんりょう)とする製品(せいひん) means “products that use petroleum as raw material”.

EDIT: corrected below:

So I still believe our phrase (臨終を旅立ちとする人) means “people departing on their deathbed” or “people departing at their last moment”.

<石油>         を  <原料>              とする  <製品>
<petroleum>       <raw-material>     [use]  <products> 
"products using petroleum as raw material"

<臨終>         を  <旅立ち>            とする  <人>
<last-moment>     <departure>        [do]   <person>
"people doing last-moment as departure"
or "people departing at their last moment"

The definition I’m using for 臨終 is 死に際 (the “edge” of death, but we’d say the “instant” of death).

The definition I’m using for 旅立ち is 門出(かどで) or “departure”.

Then it adds の知恵(ちえ). The definition that seems most applicable to me is 物事を考え. An applicable example would be:

知恵がある be resourceful; be full of ideas

Putting it all together, “people departing on their deathbed are full of ideas” or “people departing at their last moment are full of ideas”.

EDIT: And yes, this example needs a sentence diagram! :laughing:

臨終を旅立ちとする人の知恵

りんじゅうを・たびだちとする・ひとのちえ

The wise treat
death as start of
a journey

  • 3-4-3 translation
  • As I read it, the literal meaning seems to be: The wisdom of people who treat their death as a departure on a (new) journey.
3 Likes

I just don’t think that とする can mean ‘do’. “Using their last moment as a departure”, yes, if you like (though that’s a bit mystical for my taste), but not “doing a departure”. The grammar point is all about using X as something, with X as something, etc, and the する in it is fully occupied being part of the grammatical structure and cannot do double duty in its ordinary meaning of ‘to do’.

Ah! You’re right, I swapped the two nouns accidentally. My confusion was they both mean roughly the same thing. (I corrected it above.)

I still think my overall interpretation is correct. The humor comes from so many “famous last words”.

I think we’re getting to the heart of why we disagree on sentence diagrams. “Do” is a poor substitute above, but I don’t think there’s an exact English verb that works any better — it’s just a placeholder for a rough sense of action. “Products that use petroleum as raw material” is also an imperfect translation but what would be better? It seems to me that any sense of する would work with this construction, just pick what works best in English.

In this case, the action seems to be “passing” or “departing” whether it’s “last-moment as departure/start-of-journey” or “departure as last moment”, but the former is definitely more correct for this sentence (as you point out).

I wonder what the set phrase is for people’s dying words? I suspect it might give us a clue as to whether or not my interpretation is correct.

[I wonder if this is related to death poems and tanka?]

I forgot to ask my family their opinion last night, and I need to do some yardwork today, so I’m going to let this one run for another day. Apologies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Yikes. Apologies, got caught up in other things again. There’s a strong possibility I may be heading to Japan for business sometime soon which may also affect my ability to keep a daily pace. Shouldn’t be a major issue, but wanted to let people know.


Previous senryu

  1. 臨終を旅立ちとする人の知恵
    りんじゅうを・たびだちとする・ひとのちえ
    The wisdom of / people who see death / as a journey

Notes:

  • Nobody in my family has replied to my question yet, so I’m still considering this one “pending”. Usually when they are slow to answer it means they are thinking. I’ll force my wife to answer when she finishes work.

  • I know the translation above is valid, but it still doesn’t seem very senryu-like to me and I worry it misses the intent. I still suspect “full of ideas” is more likely than “wisdom” and that this one is about 辞世(じせい) (death poems) or famous quotations from people on their deathbeds (like, “People sure seem to have a lot on their minds during their last moments!”).

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Seniors

  1. 猫に手を貸したいくらい今はひま

Hmm. Fairly simple kanji, at least. I’ve got an idea what it’s about, but I need to ponder this a bit.


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.

ねこにてを かしたいくらい いまはひま

Since the subject is “‘seniors” I take the speaker to be a bored retiree. I debated whether it was “the cat” (a cat the speaker already has) or “a cat” (a hypothetical cat), but I think what makes sense is the speaker is considering getting a cat as a way to keep themselves occupied- i.e., the desire is more about something to do than a particular fondness for cats.

These idle days
I want to take care of
A cat, perhaps

It’s never that easy. What am I missing?

4 Likes

猫に手を貸したい is a play on the common phrase/saying 猫の手も借りたい meaning to be very busy, so busy you’d accept help even from as useless an assistant as a cat..

7 Likes