2014-04-17

Accomplishment

Another one from Satō Issai 佐藤一斎's 19th-century Genshi shiroku 言志四録 ("Saying what I think: Four records"):

管絃在堂。聲聞四方。聞也。巖石倒谷。響徹大地。達也。
Musical instruments are in the hall; they can be heard in every direction. This is renown. A boulder falls into a valley; the reverberations shake the very earth. This is accomplishment.

Here Satō is referring to the distinction Confucius makes in Analect 12.20 between 聞 ("renown", or "notoriety" in Legge's translation linked above) and 達 ("accomplishment", or "distinction" in Legge). Anyone can draw attention to themselves. Not everyone has the kind of virtuous gravitas that attracts attention naturally.

2014-04-14

Appreciation

From Satō Issai 佐藤一斎's 19th-century Genshi shiroku 言志四録 ("Saying what I think: Four records"):

看月観清気也。不在円欠晴翳之間。花看花観生意也。存紅紫香臭之外。
One gazes at the moon to appreciate its purity, not its phase or visibility. One gazes at the flowers to appreciate their vitality, not their color or fragrance.

So, for those keeping score at home, not only are we to look at the moon, not the finger, we must also avoid paying too much attention to whether the moon is full, obscured by clouds, etc.

Or, put a bit less facetiously, Satō is directing us to look beyond outer forms. I do not think it is a coincidence, for example, that this item mentions the moon and flowers specifically — a dyad symbolizing nature as an object of elegant appreciation in the Sinosphere generally ("春江花月夜"), and the subject of Japan's two great "viewing" traditions, hanami and tsukimi.

(Note also that the early history of hanami involved appreciation of plum (ume) blossoms rather than sakura; the specific flower viewed is clearly not the point.)

Update: Should that translation actually be something like "... appreciate its purity, which is not found within its phase or visibility"?

2014-04-08

Naljja

There were a few news stories last week about North Korean drones (in South Korea), but I didn't notice the linguistic connection until now.

According to the Washington Post, for example:

South Korean officials suspect the drones were from North Korea because Korean-language letters on their batteries are written in North Korean style, [Defense Ministry spokesman] Kwon [Kihyeon] said.

Chosun Online reports:

坡州に墜落した無人機は、エンジンのバッテリーの裏にハングルで「起用日」「使用中止日」と書かれていることが分かった。「日」という文字は韓国とは異なる北朝鮮式の表記だった。

Roughly: "It was learned that the drone that crashed had "起用日" and "使用中止日" written on the batteries on its engine in Hangul. The character [corresponding to] "日" was written in the North Korean orthography, which differs from the South Korean."

An article from the JoongAng Ilbo further reports that "起用日" is not a word in use in South Korea at all, although they assume it means the day when the product began to be used.

The orthography in question was apparently "기용날자"; you can see a picture here. The South Korean way to write this would, I am given to understand, be "기용날짜". So the spelling is equivalent to nalja (North) or naljja (South), I guess. This seems to be a case of what Wikipedia calls Indication of tensed consonants after word endings that end with ㄹ, although that very heading appears to be a mistranslation: the Japanese version of that section clearly specifies word endings that include ㄹ, and notes that the two examples given are not exhaustive. In any case it appears to be a purely orthographic difference.

(Note: After figuring this out, I was able to search for "nalja" and "naljja" and found this article at the Kyunghyan Shinmun, which seems to back up what I pieced together. Whew.)

Any Koreanists in the audience want to correct and/or elaborate on this? For example, where did this difference come from in the first place — does it reflect regional variation or uneven evolution?

2014-04-03

Idekuri

Here's a mysterious entry from the Shinsen inu tsukuba shū 新選犬筑波集 ("Newly selected mongrel Tsukuba anthology"):

Tsuki omoshirokarikeru yoru kuriuchi nado iu waza asobikeru ni:
  Yama no ha ni/ tsuki wa ide kuri/ muku yo kana
Playing "chestnuts" on a night with a brilliant moon:
   At the mountain's edge/ the moon comes out - a night to peel/ boiled chestnuts

So, the point of this poem is the overlap between tsuki wa ide (moon comes out) and idekuri ("boiled chestnuts"). I could not figure out a way to recreate anything corresponding to this in my translation. Ide is from ideru, a variant of contemporary yuderu "boil" (compare /iku/ vs /yuku/) which appears in the Jesuit Vocabulario:

Ide, zzuru, eta. Cozer couſas de comer.
Ide, zzuru, eta. Cook things to eat.

The mysterious part is that no-one knows what kuriuchi, which I have translated "chestnuts" and which literally means "chestnut-hitting," actually was. It's mentioned in a few contemporary sources, so it seems to have been a thing (as the kids say), but no-one bothered to actually write down the rules. The Nihon kokugo daijiten points out that we do know what "walnuts" (kurumiuchi) was — basically marbles, except with walnuts — and hypothesizes that "chestnuts" was similar.

2014-03-31

Ochi ni

An entry from Makimura Shiyō's Ōsaka kotoba jiten that caught my eye:

Ochi ni (Noun) A corruption of ichi ni ["one, two"]. After the Russo-Japanese war, "Ochi Ni Pharmaceuticals" employed disabled soldiers as drug salesmen, sending them out in groups of three to five to promote their wares by speaking of their war experiences and accompany themselves on the accordion as they sang: "Ochi ni, ochi ni, Ochi Ni's medicine is effective against gallstones, heartburn, munesukashi, stiff shoulders pre- and post-partum..."

I'm not sure what munesukashi was — something to do with chests and emptiness?

Note that there is no systematic correspondence between /o/ and /i/ involved here; I assume that the ochi ni pronunciation was something that the soldiers picked up in training (and possibly exaggerated for theatrical effect afterward).

2014-03-27

Punctuation

Elsewhere in Meiji ikō kokugo mondai ronshū 明治以降国語問題論集 ("Anthology of Meiji and later essays on the problem of the national language"), ed. Yoshida Sumio 吉田澄夫 and Inokuchi Yūichi 井之口有一, Itō Keisuke 伊藤圭介 argues in favor of punctuation in an essay entitled Nihonjin no ga/zoku bunshō ni okeru, kutō/danraku wo hyōji suru wo motte hitsuyō to sezaru wa, ichi ketsuji taru wo bensu ("An Argument, that it is a Flaw, that in the literary and popular Writing of the Japanese, it is not deemed necessary to indicate Punctuation and Paragraphs").

斯ノ如く。我邦人ノ作レル和文漢文。乃至日用書翰願書証文。其他一切ノ記録ニ於テ。句読段落ヲ欠クヲ以て。其主義の在ル所。往々明白ナラズシテ。読者反覆注目スルニアラザレバ。了解シ難キ者頗ル多シ。豈隔靴掻痒ノ遺憾ナラズヤ」。故ニ邦人一切ノ文書。女子ノ所作ト雖ドモ。悉皆標示法ヲ用ヰタキ者トス。政府布令文等ノ如キハ。最モ然アランコトヲ希フナリ。是レ文辞ニ疎キ。下等人民ト雖ドモ。明カニ其意ヲ領会シ。心得違ノ事ナカランヲ欲スレバナリ」。
In this way, because the Japanese and Chinese texts written by our countrymen, including casual notes, correspondence, agreements, and every other kind of record, lack punctuation and paragraph breaks, their intents and purposes are frequently unclear, and because readers do not go over them repeatedly, the great majority are difficult to comprehend. Is this not a great frustration?」 For this reason, it is to be desired that all the documents of our countrymen, be they the work of women or children, employ all the rules of punctuation. This is true most of all in the case of the official documents of government and the like, because it is desirable that even the lower classes of our nation, unlearned in letters, should be able to grasp the meaning of such documents clearly and without misunderstandings.」

The first time I saw one of his mid-paragraph 」 marks (usually a closing quotation mark in modern Japanese texts), I thought it was a typo, but no. Actually Itō proposes later in the essay that paragraph breaks be marked with 」, so it probably would have been fairer to render it as a pilcrow in the translation. (Note also that in any case my use of "paragraph" for danraku is problematic, and I should probably be inventing some new pseudo-Norman word to use instead, but ain't nobody got time for that.)

Also of note in this book of essays, but not quite interesting enough in the details to bother typing out and translating parts of Motora Yūjirō 元良勇次郎's "Ōdoku jūdoku no rigai ni oite," ("On the advantages and disadvantages of reading vertically and horizontally"), which as part of its examination of the relative readability of vertical and horizontal text is careful to allow for the effects of the nose size gap between Japan and the West. (Ultimately, though, horizontal wins.)