(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

Well, syllabification in English can be kind of complicated, apparently. It’s based on pronunciation and not spelling, and since English is kind of a mess, it can be hard to do, and even dictionaries aren’t consistent. In the example I linked in my last post, apparently someone noticed that inconsistency with different dictionaries and the word child. I think it is definitely possible to say that “yes” is occasionally pronounced with more than one syllable, even if that pronunciation is not recognized as “correct”.


This is obviously a silly disagreement with no canonical answer as to how many syllables are in a given word.

This is one of many reasons why I don’t weight 5-7-5 heavily in judging these translations. :slight_smile:

I would note that your second submission contains “dear child” which I think you intended to count as three syllables, but if child is pronounced with two then dear would also likely contain two.

I’m not sure we can necessarily make that claim, haha, and I don’t really feel like looking up dear in a dictionary to see :sweat_smile:. I only thought about it for child because I realized that I was pronouncing it with close to two syllables, and I wanted to double-check before I attempted my translation. Turns out the English language is even more complicated than I thought, and I guess this is why I have always been atrocious at poetry :sweat_smile:

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To be clear, I’m not making that claim. I’m definitely in the “both contain just one syllable” camp.

I just don’t think it’s fair to categorically state that because “child” can be pronounced differently it sometimes has two syllables, while “dear” is definitively just one. If anything, I’d accept the argument the other way around more easily (“dee er” is quite common among many of my friends and relatives, while they pronounce the other something like “chaaahld” with a very long and pronounced vowel sound).

I’m procrastinating as usual (household chores await) but I become interested in how syllables are counted in English.

This website (not that anything on the internet is canonical) at least agrees with me that both words are one syllable: https://www.howmanysyllables.com/

Note that the word “filed” is also one syllable by their definitions (which make sense to me).

“Dialed” is two syllables, which also makes sense to me, though. (I love that @rodan says they can rhyme “child” with “dialed”!)

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Syllable talk

For what it’s worth, for me:
‘child’ rhymes perfectly with ‘dialed’, and it feels more natural to split syllabically chai/uhld, die/uhld.
‘fire’ rhymes perfectly with ‘higher’ and it feels more natural to split syllabically fai/ur, high/ur.
The move into a second vowel sound feels very distinct, even when enunciating curtly and clearly. The source of the ambiguity feels clear, but I would personally lean 2 syllables. (but to be clear - not in an argumentitive way! Absolutely no horse in the race about how it ‘should’ or should not be counted, either way’s fine)

If I were to imagine a southern accent by way of imitating a comically exaggerated movie lawyer voice (sorry :sweat_smile:) then as you say I can see how ‘chaahld’ would be 1 and “dee-ah” would be more similar to the 2-feeling syllable count for me for child/fire.
But for my own accent, ‘dear’ definitely feels like 1, and doesn’t have that distinct vowel-switch feeling.

Just one small way the poetic form is well suited for its native language. :slight_smile: Kana definitely avoids some counting ambiguity.


I think everyone has the translation pretty much in hand.

I’m just a bit bothered that

there are more than 17 morae here:

5-8-5 ?!

Is there maybe a little known reading of 箱 that I’m unaware of? Is there a play on 箱 and 子 being melded somehow? So many questions. :laughing:

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Yeah, the 17 morae thing isn’t strictly enforced apparently.

  1. お若いと・言われて若くは・ないと知る

also broke this “rule,” and I’ve seen it both ways (with and without the は).

This was also pointed out by @superelf94 earlier: (The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread - #23 by superelf94


Re: syllables, what I was taught as a child (hah) is to count syllables by how many times your jaw moves up and down while saying a word. If I hold my hand beneath my chin and say the word child, sometimes my chin touches the back of my hand twice, and sometimes it’s only once, depending on what words I’m saying with it, I guess. So I think for me, it varies.

I was curious how people were dealing with this problem when translating these types of poems more professionally, and I did not find a concrete answer for that, but apparently modern haiku experts disagree with 17 English syllables representing 17 mora and think that 11-14 syllables is a closer equivalency.

Personally, as a translator, I think I prefer 17, haha, because I find it hard to make the English grammar read smoothly with a more concise syllable count, and honestly when translating poetry, you’re practically crafting an original poem anyway, because you have to take so many liberties to get the translation to capture anything close to the original.

Here’s a bonus English senryu from me. The punchline might not make sense outside of this thread, though :wink:

asked meemaw for some
sweet tea from the fridge and she
said, “yes, dear”


Okay. That made my day. :rofl:

That site I linked to describes your chin method among several others: Syllable Rules: How to count syllables (but the engineer in me prefers this algorithm: Syllable Rules: Divide Into Syllables).

Of interest to me is that I pronounce “child”, “filed” and “dialed” nearly identically, but only consider the last to have two syllables.

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Finished my chores! I had time to follow the link that you provided:

I like this very much. It jibes with my feeling that somehow English “senryu” with 5-7-5 syllables don’t quite capture the vibe (nor difficulty) of their Japanese equivalents.

From here on out, I will award slightly more weighting to “short - long - short” English translations, on a graded scale:

  1. Baseline: an understandable translation that captures the gist of the original. As described previously, I will grade short and pithy submissions with more likes and fewer introduced words the highest.

  2. 5-7-5 gets slightly more weighting than just a straight translation

  3. 4-5-4 gets slightly more weighting than 5-7-5

  4. 3-5-3 gets slightly more weighting than 4-5-4

Syllables will be counted using the How Many Syllables website. They at least claim to have been cited by the MLA, APA, and (my favorite) the Chicago Manual of Style, which is canonical enough for me. More importantly, I can just plug in a word to get a single, independent count without thinking. :slight_smile:

Have fun!

(I’ll update the How submissions are graded section in the OP accordingly.)


No idea what’s correct grammatically, but I’ve been practicing 謙譲語・尊敬語 so I tried to keigo-ify it (in the like max-敬意 way and not just the 丁寧語 if you know what I mean)

But I’m also bad at that so don’t trust me or anything


こんにちは! Rexと申します。アメリカ人でございます。

(I thought this was 致しかねます for a moment but that’s actually for not being able to do things.)

二、三年前から漢字を一所懸命勉強いたしております。数十年前から少し日本語を(で?)お話しいたしておりましたけれども(、wanikani.com と言うWEBサイトのお陰でやっとすこし書ける、読めるようになりました。
Note: Whether or not いたしております is 二重敬語 or an acceptable saying is apparently somewhat up for debate?
I couldn’t find any special 敬語 for できるようになる so I assume there isn’t any, but I could be wrong

偶然、そのサイトのフォーラムで川柳の話がでてきました。(Just in 丁寧語 is good I think since you aren’t the one doing it)

(名前)さんの「名作川柳」ページを見つけさせていただきました。(I looked it up and apparently it’s only 丁寧 if you contort 見つける into a different expression? Idk just I kept coming across “見つけるの敬語はない”) 凄く(とても?)ありがたいです!(although an article said that ありがたい might make someone feel 不快 (idk why tho) so maybe an expression like 心より感謝申し上げます) 面白いし短いですから外人(maybe 外国人? I’ve heard some foreigners find 外人 rude)に対して完璧な練習になりました。

(Also “appreciate” how I misconstrued 川柳 as a name for a good while)

許可なんか(なんか is a bit critical? Maybe のようなものは or just は・が)頼んでいなくて大変失礼かも知れません。でも(しかし?でも is kinda 話し言葉 and apparently しかし is more business scene)興味(が?)あれば今までの英語版川柳はここでございます:

Senryu - Google Sheets

毎日このspreadsheet(スプレッドシート?)をupdate(アップデート?)いたします。間違いが多いかも知れません。英語バージョン(版?for consistency) はほとんど5−7−5ルール(が守られていません?)が大体同じ気持ち(印象?感じ? → maybe not wrong necessarily but you might want to check if 気持ち is the right form of “feeling” here)になったと希望しております。

(Let us briefly appreciate that the internet has an entire article dedicated to telling us that the 敬語 of かもしれない is かもしれません, complete with a fair number of stock photos of smiling businessmen.)

spreadsheetはパブリック(一般公開?is the phrasing used on the Google Sheets website) ですがそのリンクがないと見つけられません。フォーラムの話はプライベートです。



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I guess it’d be something like this:

I let my child have an empty Chanel box for keeping handicrafts

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A 4-5-4 attempt:
Let the kid use / the Chanel carton / for handicrafts

The 川柳 humor is hard to get on this one. Allusion to parents’ vicarious ostentation at kid’s school (in the handicrafts class or something)? :thinking:
And also, is 空き箱子に持たせ the poetic version of 空き箱子に持たせ?


Ah, yes, the irony (and pathos) of it. Much better reading than it having to do with showing off…

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Previous senryu

  1. 工作 シャネルの空き箱 子にもたせ
    こうさく しゃねるのあきばこ こにもたせ
    Crafts project / I give my child / The empty Chanel box


  • Difficult choice again, but :confetti_ball: goes to @Myria because it leaves the interpretation open to the reader and feels closest to me somehow.

  • At least 4 interpretations to this one (up to the reader, I think):

    1. Child’s feelings toward the box vs. mother’s toward the contents
    2. Mother regrets giving up the box but loves her child more
    3. Mother wants to show off in front of teacher/other parents
    4. Mother wants child to show off in front of other children

    Let me know if I missed any!

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Global Truths (世の真理編)

[Note that I’m unsure if “Global truths” is an accurate translation. () might be emphasizing society or the age we live in. Let me know your thoughts]

  1. 更にヤな事ありどうでもよくなった

No difficult kanji today. Parsing the grammar is non-trivial, though. I’m looking forward to reading what people think.


  • The choice of a katakana ヤ was likely intentional and probably implies something, but might just be for counting morae.
  • I think it’s short for 嫌な事 but don’t take that as gospel.

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.

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’m probably wrong, but I think it means giving the empty box “as a gift”. That is, 持たせ is a noun meaning gift or “given-thing” (per the weblio link I gave earlier).

So I think the に functions as “to” here. Giving a gift to the child.

(Ignore what I wrote before the edit – I’m just back from the gym and blood apparently hasn’t started flowing to my brain again yet).

Coffee has kicked in. This is exactly what you wrote, of course! Reading too quickly I thought you’d replaced the に with を, not added the missing を.

In other words: YES EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Hey, thanks!

I try to write my Japanese emails pretty much the same way I’d speak if I ran into the gentleman on the street: polite but informal and friendly.

尊敬語(そんけいご) is a tricky thing for even natives to pull off correctly. I know I’d definitely sound stilted, weird, and plain wrong if I tried to use too many honorifics.

Its worth studying for sure, but for someone at my level I think it’s more important to understand it when I hear or read it than it is to attempt to use it when speaking or writing, especially something as informal as an email. I believe a foreigner will be forgiven for slightly insufficient politeness, but overly obsequious and flowery wording will sound quite grating very quickly, especially if there are any mistakes (I make lots of mistakes :slight_smile: ).

I’m reasonably confident that he will at least get the gist of what I was trying to say.

Responses to your specific suggestions

I don’t actually know his name, just his email address! :smile: This made the salutation pretty difficult. Hence the simple こんにちは.

This might have been better, dunno.

I think the most important part of sounding polite in Japanese is to humble yourself and your family/cohorts/company, and to honor the person you’re speaking to and anyone related to them. In this case, I’m one of the gaijin so I think it’s okay to be direct.

This seems to be the single hardest thing for westerners visiting Japan, by the way: e.g. drop the さん when speaking about yourself or anyone in your group. We’re trained to apply Mr./Mrs. indiscriminately and tend to just think “polite mode” / “direct mode”, using the same mode for everything.

Because Japanese culture is so outward, お客様(きゃくさま) oriented, it can cause discomfort to even imply any sort of debt or obligation indirectly — even an expression of gratitude can imply a debt! (This makes sales in Japanese a particularly interesting challenge, by the way.)

In this case, I was just trying to say how grateful we were for finding the list. It was the first way I thought of to say it. After pulling out my dictionary, I see there is also (かたじけな)い but it is less common.

This was the only sentence I struggled with. I wanted to recognize that we hadn’t asked for permission to use his list, but I know for certain he’s not the author of them either and was unlikely to have asked for permission to use any of them himself. I expressly wanted to tread lightly and keep it informal/conversational, so used なんか instead of など、とか、のような etc.

Doubtless, there was a better way to say it, but I wanted to move off of that sentence quickly! :sweat_smile:

Yeah, I got tired fighting with my IME. Entering カタカナ() is the worst! :laughing:

I’ve honestly no idea what’s better, but we’re talking senryu not haiku or anything terribly formal so I think it’s fine to keep it simple


Very tired from work, so I am just gonna do my best and sleep! I shot for the 3-5-3

さらに / やなことあり / どうでもよくなった

then something
unpleasant wound up


Probably what I sound like whenever I try to communicate ngl
But I feel guilty whenever the person I’m talking to responds super politely and I’m not even though I feel like I’m “below” them, so I try to do it (It’s kinda something I do in English, too? Like being super polite to people from school in emails. Sometimes I think it’s why people give me A’s even though I’m a jerk who never shows up)

Bro you should see the book I have on it (敬語サクッとノート). There are so many weird things that I would never think to consider (like complimenting your boss is apparently taboo)

That makes sense I guess. Although you never know when the person you’re talking to is also 外国人

Probably hard for Japanese people, too. There was like a whole section in the book for making sure to address your mother non-politely (+ your boss when talking out of company) and to not use 亡くなった for the death of your dog or your grandmother

Lol it sounds like a culture where everyone has PDA. I’ll have to keep that in mind since over here the more thank yous you give the better

Do you use Windows?
At least on MacOS, you can put anything into katakana by going ↓↑↑ on your keyboard (or holding shift). I think the shift (or maybe caps lock) also works on Windows

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Probably like

Bad things pile up
Life has (or the things have) lost its meaning

Or maybe

A bad event on
Yet another bad event
Don’t care anymore