(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

I probably should have guessed as much. I just learned 出来る and 来ない, which also don’t use the “normal” reading.

Thanks again for clearing that up for me.

Oh, and I found an interesting discussion about the increasing use of kana vs. kanji, especially katakana. I think the consensus was that more words are being written in kana, and it might be for “ease of reading”, but no one really knows for sure. Language is fluid, and a lot of the time even those that speak it as their mother tongue can’t explain why they do what they do - it just “sounds right” to them. Language Log » More katakana, fewer kanji

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Previous senryu

  1. 結婚前キミと来たねが墓穴堀

When I told my wife / "We have come here 'fore we wed, " / I dug my own grave!

Since it is a difficult senryu, I asked my 日本語先生 from UCSD for her take on it. Quoting from her response:
夫は「結婚前にキミと来たね」と妻に言ったが、妻が「え? 私はここ初めてだけど」と言ったので、夫が「しまった! ここに来たのは妻じゃなかったのか!」と墓穴を掘ってしまった

Thanks to everyone and 先生 for their contribution and commentary. Very lively discussion that was equally informative. Given the many and varied responses, I’m closing this senryu out a day early.


  • @Myria ’s interpretation and commentary (see below) is almost the same as that I received from my 先生.

  • Commentary: The husband (author) is at some special place/restaurant with his wife and exclaims: “Remember the time we came here before we were married?“ and immediately realizes that it was in fact with another woman, and not his wife. But it’s too late and he has already dug his own grave.

  • Redid the English translation to a 5-7-5 to stay close to the original

  • I think @superelf94 ’s take on it is also viable (not just because that’s what my first translation looked like), even if not as much as the final version above.

  • I do wish that 日本人 use quotes their 「」 more often. This senryu is begging for it.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Children

  1. イチローを越えたと二浪の息子言い

Looks like we have another toughie today. Please share any other hints you may have with everyone.


- It looks like a pun on the proper names イチロー and 二浪. Translating it will be interesting.

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 語源由来辞典 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.

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I‘ll share some hints for the next one:

浪人 - Jisho.org (definition 2)

一浪 - Jisho.org (one can extrapolate the meaning of 二浪, 三浪 from there)

イチロウ is the name of the son. He’s making a play on words on 一浪 and his name

It does look really difficult to translate because it’s so pun-based!


I think you’ve pretty much solved this in terms of comprehension, thanks for the tips. Coming up with an english version that captures the meaning and manages to be even slightly poetic seems nigh impossible.

Vaguely spoilerish thoughts:

Being from Seattle, I feel like nearly every Japanese person I’ve met says “Seattle! You know イチロウ?” So that was where my mind went to first.


Appreciate your hints @Myria & @weaverZ . They are certainly a help in solving this riddle.

As for the famous イチロー鈴木 of シアトル・マリーナズ, I’m not so sure he can help us out. Other than the fact that his last name has the same sound…

But, it brings things a bit more into focus…

The イチロー in the senryu is related to the 一浪 in @Myria’s hint, and it was intentionally written in kana as a cunning pun, to play off of the son’s name. Note that the kanji for the first name of Suzuki-san (of Seattle Mariners) is different than that of @Myria’s hint. So, if the author had written イチロー as a name in kanji (as in Ichiro Suzuki’s name), this might not have been much of a senryu.

Agreed that the pun in the senryu is bound to be be “lost in translation.” But, If we can just explain the play on words and the meaning, that’ll be reward enough.

I may have to resort to a 「助けてください!」to my 先生 again. But, if I have to ask her, I’d rather have a couple of options that we are looking at, rather than a “please explain.”

May have to extend the deadline by another day…

I hesitate to take any credit for this, but with @Myria ‘s hints what I have is:

  1. イチローを越えたと二浪の息子言い


Literal meaning:
“I have surpassed Ichiro” said my son who has failed the entrance exams twice.

The pun being that the kid’s name, イチロウ, can mean 一浪, to fail the college entrance exams once. Having failed them twice he is now 二浪, and has surpassed his name. I’m not even going to attempt anything poetic here.

My alternate (mostly joking) interpretation is that the speaker was one of those annoying sports parents and always pressured the kid to be the next イチロー鈴木, and now the kid is saying “Ha! I surpassed イチロウ!”


I was able to identify which words were going to be punning, which is about as good as this one was going to get for me!

Though when I looked up 息子, it came up with a slang term as well that seems to be rather saucy. (See definition #2 here: 息子 - Jisho.org) For any of you with much more knowledge than me, is that a common thing to say if you’re being crass, is it considered cursing, incredibly impolite, or just a euphemism? How vulgar are we talking here? And am I correct in reading that it will usually be written out むすこ if that’s the intention?

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Hey! No more baseball related senryu until I’m back for real!

(The イチロー here is definitely the player! EVERYONE knows him and the surpassing pun only works with someone famous for being one of the best.)


I think that’s it!! I think your second explanation is closer to the overall context than the first one. You did it!! :wink: お疲れ様です @weaverZ -さん。I’ll confirm the explanation with my 先生。

Now, would you like to try and compose a 4-5-4 or 5-7-5 English senryu? This syllable counter webpage is a good workspace to compose a senryu or haiku in English. If you input the senryu in 3 lines and click the “count syllables,” it’ll show the syllables in each line. Then just rearrange/substitute words until you get the proper syllable count and composition - certainly makes the work go faster.

The hints from both you and @Myria together cracked this tough nut of a senryu. (Not being a baseball fan I’d never have made the connection that you did. I was struggling with it until your hints came along.)

I’ll give this another day.


Interesting discussion in the link you forwarded. Thanks.

I find that the younger generation in Japan uses a lot of English words, but written in katakana, or “katanglish” as I call it. If I ask for the Japanese equivalent for an English word, they’ll often respond with the katanglish version, which is kinda disappointing. Part of it has to do with a lot of these new words in English which is just adopted as is, rather than some deliberative body coming up with the equivalent using kanji and such.

Jim Breen, the father of wwwJdic and a participant in the discussion below the article, starts his comment with:

“My engagement with Japan and Japanese only goes back 35 years…”

I had to laugh. Says a lot about what it takes to learn 日本語… :wink: Well, onward and upward…

He goes on to say that the situation is not as dire as he has not seen the increased use of katakana as the research paper claims.

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I feel like this is a bit of a mixed blessing. If there’s a word you don’t know (more often for nouns, I think) you can throw out a katanglish version and often be understood. On the other hand, it feels awkward to say things like su-ta-ba-kku-su (Starbucks) in a way that native japanese words don’t.

I’ll cogitate on English senryu options…

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I didn’t even think anything of Ichiro being written as イチロー :sweat_smile: That might actually be it!
I thought he was simply saying “I surpassed myself, I’m not Ichiro anymore, I’m 二浪 now

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Right, after reading your hint, that’s what I thought of also. Initially I though that イチロー and 二浪 were both being used as proper nouns.

I’ll work on the English version of the senryu today.

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Note to self: this one gets a star when I have more time to update the top post.

@weaverZ’s literal explanation makes perfect sense to me, and it was @Myria’s helpful link to Jisho that helped me understand. LOTS of cultural context required for this one!


I have never heard it used as a curse word. Then again, I don’t hear much cursing in Japan. Japanese hardly swear, and never in public. I have to watch myself from using four letter words (when speaking in English) as I do (and everyone does) when I’m in the US. Even exalted publications here like The Atlantic have no qualms printing curse words now - it’s a shame, really. What’s worse, the rest of the English speaking world seems to be taking it up.

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It is, indeed, a euphemism. As far as usage, though, that particular meaning is usually prefixed with 俺の and a suggestive wink, so it’s definitely not something you would casually mix up.

I’ve also never seen it used as a curse word, but have seen it used as an exclamation for comedic effect but with the prefix already mentioned.

Edit: Side note, I wouldn’t read too much into it. has the same definition (#4).


I have learned to exercise care with the syllable counter page because if you click away it will discard your work :sob:

Here’s my senryu attempt, which I think is pretty meh

  1. イチローを越えたと二浪の息子言い

“They’ve only failed once”/says my son, “I’m beyond that/for I’ve done it twice”

But my brain really wanted it to be a limerick, which both fits the comedic tone I read into this poem, and also gave me more room to set up and land the joke (minus puns, alas). I’m a little loose with syllable count, but the rhythm works when I say it aloud. I think this better captures the essence of the original, even though it is not a very literal translation.

A thing that is commonly done
Is to fail college admissions once
“I’m better than that
You should all tip your hat
For I’ve done it twice,” brags my son


@weaverZ , is there a reason why you switched to the above interpretation from your initial “Literal meaning”?

“I have surpassed Ichiro” said my son who has failed the entrance exams twice.

The above literal meaning goes with your second interpretation:

My alternate (mostly joking) interpretation is that the speaker was one of those annoying sports parents and always pressured the kid to be the next イチロー鈴木, and now the kid is saying “Ha! I surpassed イチロウ!”

This is the right explanation - I have 先生と確認しました。

The pun is that 二ロー aces/is better than 一ロー numerically (i.e. 2ro aces 1ro). Needless to say, the comparison fails when written in kanji: twice failed=二浪 VS first born=一郎.

There is no way to translate this pun into an English senryu without a footnote or annotation.Which then robs the senryu of its cunning pun. :smirk:

Whachagonnado? I guess it is better to leave certain things stated only in 日本語。

Still, your limerick reads well :wink:


I didn’t find the literal translation to be at all satisfying. A joke loses its humor if you have to explain it. So I tried to take the essence of the joke — “my son is trying to make it sound like failing the entrance exams TWICE is an accomplishment to be proud of” — and turn it into something that could stand on its own in english. I suppose I was inspired by what I catch glimpses of sometimes when watching subtitled anime, where the translators* have clearly had to take some creative license to get the essence of an idea across efficiently. But perhaps that is not the goal here?

*(RIP any notions I might have had of becoming a translator. I don’t imagine I will ever have anywhere near the competency in 日本語 to be qualified for that)


Your conclusion makes sense. I’ve been playing around, trying to translate it, and it’s clear that without additional footnotes, the senryu won’t make it intact across to English, pun and all. At which point, it will be “Death to the pun!” and “Hello, senryu analysis.”

Give it 35 years, as Jim Breen did. Perhaps less, since you’re not aiming to create a dictionary. :slightly_smiling_face:

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