Animism in action

A sign near Shinjuku station:

It says arukitabako wa dame, or "no arukitabako". Arukitabako is a compound: aruki (from aruku, to walk) + tabako (from "tobacco"). It means "walking (around) while smoking"; you're supposed to stand by the ashtray and smoke there instead, and most people do nowadays. Note that tabako is being used to refer not to the cigarette itself but to the act of smoking it.

There are lots of Japanese compounds like this: tachi.shon ("standing" + "[take a] leak")*, kui.nige ("eating" + "run[ning]", leave a restaurant without paying). Even when you could conceivably make a new compound verb from the elements (kuinigeru would be quite acceptable, morphology-wise), the tendency to turn it into a noun which takes suru if necessary is apparently quite strong. (Compare Google frequencies if you don't believe me.)

The child artist behind this gem, however, has turned this tendency on its head, and broken down aruki.tabako to not "walk[ing] + [smoking a] cigarette" but rather "walk[ing] + cigarette".

Near the sign is written (in English):

Please use these stand ashtrays conforming to the rules without nuisance to others.

Normally I would hardly even notice a missing comma in a sentence like that, but combined with the Walking Tobacco, the images it conjured up of rogue stand ashtrays that don't conform to the rules, thus constituting a nuisance to others, were just too vivid to ignore.

Also, to judge from the picture, bears are involved in all of this. I do not know why.

* In some speakers' Japanese, the ti + x = tx rule has turned this word into tasshon. Just sayin'.

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Smokey the bear? ;) http://www.smokey-signals.com/


No shirt, no shoes... this, gentlemen, is a hippie bear. He would not get served in Louisiana!


Another example of that formation I won't soon forget is odorigui. Nasty.

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