(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

New word for me, and a rather evocative one. Imagine a few guys loitering near a window, looking rather put out.

When I first encountered the practice in Japan, I was struck by how a thing that is esteemed and honored in one culture is abhorred and scorned in another.

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Thursday, June 2, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. ドラマでは私住む街左遷の地
    ドラマでは はたしすむまち させんのち
    In a drama / the town I live in / is where they are /put out to pasture

Notes:

  • :confetti_ball: to @Arzar33 for getting it right first and because 4 lines made me grin
  • Daughter confirms @Arzar33 has it exactly right: 左遷の地 is about Japanese companies punishing an employee by demoting and transferring them to a dead-end position in a backwater branch office.
  • Try fitting that in five English syllables!

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Heartfelt (しみじみ編)

  1. 妻逝って可愛い壺に納まれり

More interesting kanji I needed to look up again today. Even after looking them up, I’m utterly clueless about what this one means! More research required …

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!

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.

2 Likes

I thought for certain you’d intended to get back to it, but forgot to. That’s why I called it out. :smiling_imp:

I think it’s a pretty dated expression, but worth filing away in case it comes up in another senryu!

つまいって かわいいつぼに おさまれり
4-5-4
My wife, no more, / takes her place now in / a lovely vase

Note: How 「行く」「逝く」and「往く」differ in meaning & usage.

5 Likes

<smacks forehead>

Of course! That’s what it means. For some reason I just couldn’t piece it together.

Well done!

Your sleuthing skills are better than mine. 「逝く」の意味は、人が死ぬことです。Pretty much gives it away. Now I know. :smile:

3 Likes

Friday, June 3, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 妻逝って可愛い壺に納まれり
    つまいって かわいいつぼに おさまれり
    My wife, no more, / takes her place now in / a lovely vase

Notes:

  • :confetti_ball: @LaVieQ
  • The key to understanding is something I didn’t know until @LaVieQ found that article that explains how 「行く」「逝く」and「往く」differ . ()く means “to go” in the sense of “passing to the other side” or dying.
  • Yomichan and JMDict messed me up on this one. As usual, the Kenkyusha J-E dictionary entry was better:

►祖母は祖父がぽっくり逝ってから急にふけこんだ. After the sudden death of my grandfather, Grandmother started to age rapidly.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Salaryman

  1. 社長より 現場を良く知る アルバイト

Story time:

I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to be confused by two of the words in this one. These aren’t really hints, but I’ll add a spoiler just in case. There aren’t any giveaways to the meaning of the poem, but I do discuss two of the words.

Story 1

I met my wife through friends when she had an アルバイト at a gym (a part-time job). This is one of those 外来語(がいらご) words that occasionally tripped me up. We native English speakers (and sometimes Japanese themselves) tend to assume that katakana words are English, but as I’m sure everyone here knows、 it comes from the German word “arbeit” (job, I think).

Better story 2

現場(げんば) was a word that confused the heck out of my when I was a young engineer working for Mitsubishi Semiconductors. I was taking private Japanese lessons twice a week after work, which was atypically diligent for me, but most of my learning was of the sink-or-swim variety: I learned the meanings of words by hearing them used.

[An aside: To this day, I actually often find it easier to understand Japanese spoken by someone with a Kansai accent (my teacher was a nice old lady in Osaka, and I worked in 北伊丹(きたいたみ) outside of Osaka). Not so much kansai-ben, mind you, more the accents and rhythm than specific wording/dialect.]

I was the only foreigner in the test department. The multi-million dollar test machines were only kept in a few places, of course, and this was way before the days of ubiquitous networking. Many things required you to be physically in front of the machine. After hearing somebody say something like 現場で()りました. Since I knew where they’d done the work, I thought, “Oh! ‘Genba’ must be another word for ‘lab’”.

For the next several weeks, I tried using it as a replacement for the word “lab” … to no ill effect. Everyone seemed to know what I was talking (at least, no worse than usual), so I just added it to my mental J-E dictionary and didn’t think any more about it. I didn’t have the benefit of Wanikani back then, so I couldn’t begin to read the kanji, nor did I have the time to look up every word that I came across — especially when I thought I’d understood.

Then one day I came back from a business trip. During 朝礼(ちょうれい) (the “morning bow” or morning briefing where everyone stood, bowed, and one-by-one updated the group about anything important to communicate to the team) someone used the word 現場 to refer to the customer’s premises (which I knew had no lab!). I was so confused!

I was even more confused once I asked someone to explain the meaning to me with my broken Japanese. All of us eventually started laughing at the difficulty in communicating the meaning: it was like a magical word that could mean any place you wanted it to depending on context. I just chalked it up to the now familiar idea that Japanese was this impossibly indirect and fluid language.

Eventually, I twigged to the fact that the closest English words might be “site” or “scene” (also “magical” words that can apply to different places) but I’ll never forget that day of absolute confusion.

〜 末 〜


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!

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.

2 Likes

I’m breaking the including the hiragana rules, but I’m on my phone so please forgive me.

The boss knows
the place less well than
The part timer

3 Likes

Saturday, June 4, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 社長より 現場を良く知る アルバイト
    しゃちょうより・げんばをよくしる・アルバイト
    The boss knows / the place less well than / The part timer

Notes:

  • :confetti_ball: to @KJules with a 3-5-3
  • I wonder if people struggling more with the Japanese or the English?

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Heartfelt (しみじみ編)

  1. 我が家の灯しばらく外で眺める

Once again I didn’t have to look anything up today, and I understand the literal meaning, but I’m still struggling to interpret this one. :person_shrugging:


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!

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

thank you…this was a leach for me…now i’m getting it right thanks to this thread…

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Hey, that’s awesome! Which character?

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わがうちの ひしばらくそと でながめる

3-4-3 attempt:

Warm lights glow: / View of our home / from afar

Darn difficult to make out the meaning behind this 川柳, although the literal, word-by-word translation seems straightforward.

I took しみじみ as the clue. So, it is about someone’s feelings well up, as their house comes into view, lit up like a beacon, warm & inviting as they are returning home from some hardship late in the evening. That’s しみじみ enough for me. Then again, I may well be wrong, as I’ve been so many time before. :smiley: If so, しみじみ no more I’ll be.

It maybe a bit of both. Speaking for myself, enjoyable (and edifying!) though the exercise is, it takes non-trivial effort and time to get it done. On top of pondering the meaning and researching the words, getting the syllable count in English also requires some time. On some days, I just don’t have the time for both. And I don’t want to put out something that’s 中途半端.

That said, thanks to you @Rrwrex , for your daily effort & time to keep this thread going and for your raconteur-ship, which makes for a lively read.

3 Likes

Oh, believe me I get that. :slight_smile:

And apologies, I didn’t mean to pressure anyone.

Despite the word “daily” in the title, I think I’m going to give two or three days to some of the more difficult ones to interpret (like this one!).

I’m still pondering this one myself. In the end I agree it likely makes the most sense to just post a literal word-for-word translation, but I want to get the sense first myself.

Also, your choice of translating 外で as “afar” interests me. I got the impression that it was their house’s porch light, which changes the interpretation somewhat. I’ve no idea what this really means either way!

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re: choice of translation

Well, “from afar” is more to create a sentimental mood. The literal translation is, of course, “by the outside,” with で here functioning just like in 公園で行く。The examples Tofugu provides for the で particle grammar under で for Specifying Places and で for Means of Action explains it better than I can. (btw, I looked it up again to make sure that my interpretation is correct.)

2 Likes

I wasn’t trying to correct you, FWIW, just pointing out my initial interpretation was different.

But (keeping in mind that my grammar is terrible) to me this sentence sounds pretty odd:

公園で行く

For that specific sentence where the park indicates the destination, I think に would be the correct particle.

When using で to specify a place as in the Tofugu article, I think it indicates the place where some action occurs. For example:

公園で凧を上げました

(assuming that’s the correct verb for flying a kite!)

So my initial interpretation of the senryu was

By the porch-light outside our home, I was staring for a while

But I’m still completely unsure if that’s even correct, much less what it means. :laughing:

Not to worry about correcting me… as a learner I stand corrected frequently. :wink:

Perhaps a better example I could’ve given is 道で散歩する, which would literally translate to “take a walk by means of the road,” but translates as “take a walk on/along the road.” In other words, the place is used for a particular action/activity. Which is how I interpreted the 川柳 in the end.

My initial translation was the same as yours, but I didn’t find it “heartfelt” and so…

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The real question is: which direction are they staring?

They could be standing on the porch looking away, or standing farther away (“afar” :grin:) and looking at the lights from the house. That particle is left out!

Still pondering …

  1. 我が家の灯しばらく外で眺める

Hmm it’s frustrating, I think I have a good image of what the 川柳 wants to convey but I struggle to turn it into English and make it sound nice. A plain version:

From outside
Gazing at the lights in my home
For a moment

Because it’s しみじみ編, the image I get is someone at night looking at their house (husband coming back from work fairly late at night?) contemplating/meditating on the the light coming out, probably thinking happily about their family or something.
(I guess the intended meaning of 眺める is meaning 4 on goo 物思いに沈んでぼんやり見る. I struggle to find a fitting English verb or phrase)

And by the way, as usual with 灯, I have no idea of the reading. あかり/あかし/ひ/ともし/ともしび?

5 Likes

This one was tricky! At first I thought that the lights were outside, but I think I agree with the interpretation that the person gazing is outside. That made the mood of the poem suddenly click for me.

Uh oh, I’m not quite sure which reading to use for 灯 :sweat_smile:. I think it’s ひ? EDIT: Nope, I was wrong, it’s あかり! Thanks Axazel!

()()(あかり)しばらく(そと)(なが)める

gazing at
the lights of my house
from the porch

I ended up leaving out しばらく in my translation because I thought it was sort of implied in the word “gazing”.

3 Likes

For me, it’s almost always the Japanese, haha. The only time I struggle more with the English is when the only English words available have way too many syllables. I also tend to go for a more literal translation than a poetic one, leaving my translations feeling rather plain.

My Japanese grammar and vocab are both still very poor, so many of these are often a huge struggle for me just to comprehend, let alone interpret.

As someone who does this frequently, I found this one both easy to translate and hard to capture that :sparkles: feeling :sparkles:

わがやのあかり / しばらくそとで / ながめる

our home’s light
a while outside to
take it in

*while is one syllable I already confirmed online :rofl:

5 Likes