(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

Friday, October 7, 2022

Previous senryu

  1. どの彼の時も最初はこの料理
    This dish starts / every occasion of / boyfriend-time


  • I liked how @superelf94’s version sounded, but I think my initial interpretation led you astray.

  • @LaVieQ cleared it up for me: 彼の時 means “boyfriend time”. Without the どの at the beginning I’d have understood that immediately, but somehow adding it confused me. I now think どの彼の時も means “any/every boyfriend-time” (i.e. with the same boyfriend, but different times) rather than “time with any [new] boyfriend”.

  • In other words, I think this senryu is about the dish that immediately precedes putting on a Barry White or “boom chicka wow wow” soundtrack.

  • This also convinced me that the subject here is the author rather than some third person.

  • For all of these reasons, I decided to go with my 3-6-3 version above (apologies).

  • It always fascinates me how reversing the order of the original usually works better in English.

  • I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time recently translating Japanese middle-school grammar instruction, which has improved my understanding of Japanese grammar significantly. I believe the absolute “core” of this senryu is simply:

    料理(りょうり) [だ]

    with an implied だ at the end. In other words, “[it is] cooking”. Adding the この modifier: “[It is] this cooking”).[1]

    If I were to transliterate this senryu, attempting to keep the structure somewhat similar (vs. translations which sound like more natural English) it would be something like: “As for the beginning, any boyfriend-time is this-cooking.” The structure 「どの◯も」of course just means “any ◯”. Here, it means “any boyfriend-time”.

    That’s obviously far less understandable in English, but I really do believe that analyzing the grammatical structure this way (making the differences from English obvious) helps tremendously. Translations aren’t the best way to learn the true nature and idiosyncrasies of a language.

    My English translation, for example, made the word “dish” a grammatical subject. English is a subject-focused language, so this feels natural. I’m firmly convinced, however, that as a predicate-centric language, Japanese puts a single noun like that in the predicate (with an implied copula だ). 料理 does not function as the grammatical subject in the original sentence. The subject is “boyfriend-time”.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Various settings

  1. 趣味日舞 詳しくきけば盆踊り

I could read and understand all of the words except 日舞(にちぶ) (I guessed the reading correctly, but still don’t really understand the meaning — it obviously must be different than 盆踊り!). So far I’ve not found any good examples of 日舞 online to explain this one for me.


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. As an aside: I recently learned the word 指示語(しじご) which means “pointing” words. This includes この and どの in this senryu. These are also colloquially referred to as こそあど words: れ、れ、れ、れ. ↩︎

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