(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

I finally remembered to bookmark that wonderful site this time! Etymology is always fascinating, and these explanations are perfect reading practice for me (difficult but doable with yomichan, and not too long). I’m going to add that site to the list of resources.

I don’t know which explanation is more likely for 青二才: I had no idea the character (しん) could be read にい, and I’ve never heard of “bora” fish before!

I love that the explanation for オフクロ starts with “dating back to the Muromachi era” like I’d have any idea when that was (right around when the Black Death was raging in Europe, FWIW). For that one, I really like the initial explanation, especially because it resonates with “purse strings” in English. That makes sense to me.

Monday, May 30, 2022

You folks really don’t make judging easy!


Previous senryu

  1. 年齢欄「青二才」だと書いておく
    ねんれいらん「あおにさい」だとかいておく
    Age in years? / “A tenderfoot” / I put down

Notes:

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Heartfelt

  1. 初孫の呼吸聞かせる娘の受話器

Break out the dictionaries for this one. 初孫(ういまご) wasn’t a reading I’d have guessed!

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

ういまごのこきゅうきかせるじゅわき

Assuming that the 受話器 in the poem is a device like this…. I’ll just call it a “handset” in translation, else it’ll get quite complicated (“handset audio amplifier” :grin:).

First grandson’s breathing / heard clear in the new handset. / My daughter’s gifts, both.

This one is tough - can’t get it any shorter than 5-7-5.

You have probably heard it before, without associating it with the kanji: 新潟県 (にいがたけん). My knowledge stems from my association with the prefecture, which is where I first saw that reading. Not that it helped me see that 新背 is read as にいせ…

3 Likes

Wow! I had no idea. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 初孫の呼吸聞かせる娘の受話器
    ういまごの・こきゅうきかせるこ・のじゅわき
    First grandson’s breathing / heard clear in the new handset. / My daughter’s gifts, both

Notes:

  • :trophy: to @LaVieQ for the only submission
  • No :confetti_ball: because the character 娘 was left out of the kana provided! I’d ordinarily ignore a simple typo, but in this case it’s too interesting. I think it’s actually read () here to keep it to a 5-8-5, and not (むすめ) as you’d expect.
  • But learning how Niigata prefecture is written almost put it over the top!

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Intense

  1. ドラマでは私住む街左遷の地

Hint:

I think the key to this one is figuring out how to translate 左遷(させん).

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

It appears that I’m not the only one struggling with this one.

Let’s give this one two days. I’ll ping my family to see if I can get some help. I’ll be amazed if anyone comes up with something short — all the English words have several syllables.

My best attempt at translation (likely wrong, and ignoring syllable counts:

ドラマでは私住む街左遷の地

ドラマでは・わたしすむまち・させんのち

In the TV drama
The town I live in
became the land of exile

I’m utterly unsure what 左遷(させん)() means here, though. Literally it means “demoted ground”.

1 Like
  1. ドラマでは私住む街左遷の地

In a drama
the town I live in
is where they are
put out to pasture

Yeah, 4 lines baby! 川柳 is about breaking the rules after all :stuck_out_tongue:

Basically I think 左遷の地 is about the thing in Japanese company when they want to punish someone, they demote them and transfer them to a dead-end position in a backwater branch office.

If it’s right, I actually had a similar though as the 川柳 when watching the medical drama Doctor X. It usually takes place in a prestigious Tokyo hospital, but in one episode almost the entire team of surgeon get punished for some reason and they end up getting transferred all over japan, in small hospitals. And there is a montage of all them looking bored out of them mind. So I thought the people living there watching the show must have complicated feeling about it :stuck_out_tongue:

Btw I didn’t know about the expression “put out to pasture”, I found it in a dictionary so I’m not sure if the meaning fit.

I heard はつまご before. :thinking:

4 Likes

Hah! Looks like I got rid of the daughter altogether because I couldn’t deal with the syllable count. :grin: But, it seems to have backfired…

ドラマでは はたしすむまち させんのち

4-5-4
Soap opera: / My home town shown as / not so worthy

The literal translation seems to be that the town where the author lives was shown in the TV program as a run down, sketchy place. But, the sentiment of this 川柳 is not clear to me. Is it said in indignation? anger? resignation? sadness? A bit of all of the above?

Interesting. I haven’t heard the phrase 左遷の地 before, but I am familiar with an interesting practice in Japanese companies that is associated with moving people around to demote them.

Japanese companies used to punish problem employees by moving them into isolated offices in the building (at least into the 90’s and it may still be so). I knew of a case in Tokyo in the late 80’s where a problem employee was moved into an office that was (almost) a corner office, which corresponds to prime office location in US companies, reserved exclusively for CxOs & senior executives! But, ostracizing someone like that must be the worst kind of humiliation in Japan, as that employee quit within a month. What a way to fire an employee: give him/her an office with a view all for themselves and they up and quit.

Interesting also how the the Japanese staff sit in a layout that looks literally like the organizational chart mapped to the central part of the floor/building, while space along the edge of the buildings with windows etc are used as bathrooms, storage rooms and as a place of exile (左遷の室?).

Related, an interesting explanation of the etymology of 左遷.

2 Likes

I don’t think things change that quickly. It’s complicated: forced solo moves can also be for advancement.

One related thing: being given a window seat means something ENTIRELY different in Japan. 窓際族 was a very real thing in the eighties and nineties at least.

1 Like

As I mentioned, let’s keep working on yesterday’s senryu. No response from my family in Japan last night, so I remain unsure of the translation.

I suspect that we’re on the right track with the exile/out-to-pasture/banishment train of thought. But let’s keep researching, regardless. Maybe we’ll turn up something that changes our mind! I suspect the lack of response from my family indicates it’s not easy to understand.

I’ll post the next senryu tomorrow.

2 Likes

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.

2 Likes

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…

1 Like