(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

先生が質問をしたら?

Hm. For one, I think the implied subject is 私 more often than not in Japanese sentences, especially if there is no reason to think otherwise.
Secondly, passive expressions such as (先生に)質問をされたら〜 are used pretty frequently. They are a quick and easy way to indicate that someone else (先生) did something and 私 is at the receiving end of the action. They are mostly used for one purpose (I think): keeping the subject consistent. 私 is doing the questioning, and 私 is doing the sleeping.
Switching subjects mid-sentence and having two different が-subjects (先生が質問をしたら、私が寝ていたことがバレた), especially if it can be easily avoided by using a simple passive construction, is uncommon, in my (subjective) experience. At least I wouldn’t assume a different subject if 私 makes sense in context, as it does to me in this case. But you’d probably have to ask someone more versed in linguistics for details.

6 Likes

Makes sense. I’m just wondering if 音-count constraints might explain not using されたら.

—-

Confirmed with my native wife that your interpretation is correct. The implied subject is 私.

So that means if the author asked their question it would give away that they’d been sleeping (perhaps a non-sensical question, or one that had just been answered). Exactly @superelf94 ’s initial interpretation!

In hindsight, I realized they could have easily met the count constraints with my interpretation by dropping the を and using されたら.

Again: the ambiguity due to the lack of subjects in Japanese sentences still confuses me regularly!

4 Likes

I agree that it’s really confusing at times! And something that can probably only be fixed through lots and lots of exposure :smiley: 川柳 analysis being part of that exposure.

1 Like

I think that’s essentially it, honestly. I think unannounced subject changes do happen, but it usually happens when the subject of whatever else is used is clear (e.g. 寒かったら, よかったら). Basically there’s usually an assumed subject that’s given by context, and if nothing else is implied, the assumption is that the subject is the speaker.

In @Rrwrex’s senryuu, what’s being suggested is that asking a question would reveal that one hadn’t been listening (and that one had been sleeping, in this case).

5 Likes

Monday, August 1, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 質問をしたら寝ていた事がバレ
    しつもんを・したらねていた・ことがバレ
    If I ask / they will know I was / fast asleep!

Notes:

  • Thanks to @superelf94 , @Myria, and @Jonapedia, I learned something today. It’s at least uncommon for an implied subject to change between different parts of the same sentence. @Jonapedia makes a good point that this is especially true when the implied subject is a person: exceptions seem to mostly be for obvious inanimate subjects. All of this makes intuitive sense to me now, and might even lessen my confusion going forward (there’s always hope!).

  • Apologies, but as always I couldn’t resist tinkering slightly with the translation. I was able to get it down to a 3-5-3 by translating 質問をしたら as “If I ask” without using the word “question.” If the Japanese can imply subjects, it seems only fair that we imply a direct object in the translation!

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Corona

  1. リモートで 便利な言葉 “聞こえません!”

Dare I say it? “This one seems pretty easy to read and interpret.”

No hints from me today. The volume should provide enough of a hint for the カタカナ().


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.

4 Likes

Was mysteriously drawn to this one while waiting for my first meeting to start after some time off…

working remotely, / so much depends on the phrase: / “I think you’re on mute?”

Not the most direct in the world but I enjoyed cribbing from William Carlos Williams for the middle part (even though it changes the tone a bit) and well – the phrasing’s true to my experience at least…

6 Likes

Hmm… I’m going to have to research the name. I’m guessing a comedian (the translation made me smile, anyway).

A poet!

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

He has some famous poems (thinking mainly of this one and the one about the plums) that are short and memorable enough that they’re good touchstones to reference or joke about.

(I liked the association of a mundane covid-era office phrase with the wheelbarrow, that I made by stealing the beginning while looking for something with the right syllables…)

4 Likes

リモートで 便利な言葉 “聞こえません!”

リモートで・べんりなことば ・「きこえません!」

Handy phrase
when working from home:
“Can’t hear you!”

3-5-3
Straightforward… I think.

The previous 川柳 was quite instructive about the “subject consistency” within sentences, which makes total sense and clarifies the fog of “who’s the subject?” quite a bit. Much appreciate everyone’s input and comments.

However, I’m still not convinced that this 川柳 can’t be read as an abbreviation of [寝ている人は]質問したら寝ていたことがバレ. Which would translate to “The question will reveal if [the questioner was] sleeping”, where “questioner” could be he or she. So, it’s not necessary that the subject of the 川柳 has to be 私.

Although I also see @Myria 's preference for 私, particularly since the observation is based on personal experience.

2 Likes

Oh, definitely. Good point.

It seems most likely that it’s the same subject for both parts (unlike my mistaken interpretation) but whether that subject is the author or a third party “depends on context”. As the man said, “Why, Japanese people, WHY?!!”

1 Like

Tuesday, August 2, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. リモートで 便利な言葉 “聞こえません!”
    リモートで・べんりなことば ・「きこえません!」
    Handy phrase / when working from home: / “Can’t hear you!”

Notes:

  • I enjoyed @Rodan’s more poetic interpretation (which captures the spirit perfectly) but went with the more direct translation as usual. (I hear gritting of teeth!)

  • Unnecessary meetings were always the worst. We thought they couldn’t get any worse. Then COVID and the ubiquitous zoom calls proved us all wrong. Obligatory.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Ladies

  1. 痩せていた証拠のスカート捨てられず

No hints, but I don’t think there is any hidden context to this one. At least I think not. Ladies?


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

やせていたしょうこのすかーとすてられず

This skirt proves that
I once was skinny!
It won’t be tossed

Notes

The Passvie form of 捨てる made it interesting to translate haha

4 Likes

痩せていた証拠のスカート捨てられず

やせていた・しょうこのスカート・すてられず

Can’t discard
this skirt, proof of a
slimmer self

3-5-3
Just like the pair of jeans from my late 20’s that I still have and try on from time to time… My excuse is that they don’t make 'em like that anymore. :smiley: :innocent:

Although there’s no “this skirt” in the original, writing “the skirt” doesn’t make it as much an object of affection as the 証拠のスカート (“this proof of a skirt of my slimmer days”) in the original.

5 Likes

Interesting, I interpreted it as potential

3 Likes

Wednesday, August 3, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 痩せていた証拠のスカート捨てられず
    やせていた・しょうこのスカート・すてられず
    This skirt proves that / I once was skinny! / It won’t be tossed

Notes:

Very interesting grammatical point brought up by @superelf94 and @pm215. Somebody please correct me if I’ve got anything wrong, but the verb ()てられない can either be passive (“was not thrown away”) or potential (“will not throw away”). Like @pm215 I simply assumed the latter, but @superelf’s translation using both passive and potential form (“won’t be tossed”) seems both accurate and possibly intended.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Intense

  1. あの娘には二度も結婚先越され

Hmm. Not 100% sure I understand this one at a glance, but it sounds awfully gossipy.

Unlike yesterday, I believe the ()され is purely passive (“was surpassed”).

What’s it called when the final る is dropped like this (越される→越され)? (どう)名詩(めいし) (a gerund)? Or is it still acting as a verb? (My grammar is terrible in either language.)


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.

I think this is what it’s getting at:

She’s always ahead! / First to date, first to marry, / first to remarry…

Trying to preserve the humor within the structural constraints seems like the most interesting part of translating these for me personally, so I reinterpreted a lot to try to replicate how I think the joke works.

Alternately (Since I don’t like about the first attempt that it sounds a bit like criticizing a random hypothetical woman):

She beats me to it / every time! She married first, / got remarried first…

7 Likes

My attempt at a retaining-the-joke translation:

She didn’t just / beat me to the altar / I’ve been lapped!

7 Likes

My first interpretation was the latter. Still unsure.

I think it’s just 連用形 ren’youkei and is not supposed to be interpreted as a noun in most cases :smiley: at least the verbs in poetry usually are just verbs even if they look like a nounification (名詞化).

1 Like