Izanagi and Izanami, not Flopsy and Frosty!

At Seibu, they believe that marriage is marriage even if it's between a rabbit and a snowman (-woman?):

"In winter, you need clothes most of all." (But if you are made of snow, you can apparently get away with just a scarf.)

Sharp-eyed, Japanese-speaking, anti-kanji readers (and I know I have surprisingly many) might already be flexing their commenting fingers, ready to observe that the ichiban ("number one", "most") is written in hiragana (いちばん), not kanji (一番). Doesn't this indicate dramatic attrition already? Losing the character 一 would be an alarming precedent for other, more complicated characters, which is to say every single one of them. But the answer is: eh, not really.

Many if not most style manuals actually insist on hiragana when you use ichiban as an adverb as opposed to a literal "#1". Not because 一番 is especially difficult or burdensome to write or read -- just because separating function word-y usages from content word-y ones is supposed to make Japanese easier to read and especially to scan. (Even Wikipedia agrees.)

On the other hand, I believe that these same style guides would also recommend that いる (iru, "need") be written 要る. So why isn't it? My guess is: it wouldn't be as cute. (The いちばん also probably has a lot to do with cuteness, to be honest; the fact that it coincides with widely recommended usage may be nothing more than a happy coincidence.)

Popularity factor: 9


short ears for rabbits.. but very cute still.


I had this discussion yesterday, actually. At first I thought they were bears but their faces do look oddly rabbity. Perhaps they are rabbears.


Shouldn't it be:

"Winter is when you need clothes the most."

(Loosely translated.)

The ichiban seems to be more about winter as a season than about what you need in winter, although it is a bit ambiguous.

Kyle Goetz:

Matt, I've been interested in kanji v. kana style usage for a while (e.g. when to use 下 in ください and くださる), and would like suggestions for a style guide to purchase. Thanks! The 一番 v. いちばん was really neat.


Anon, I think one of us isn't understanding the other's sentences cause as far as I can tell they don't differ in meaning. Except that yours scans better and mine more forcefully retains the "X wa, Y" structure.

Leonardo: I'll work on it!


Uh... it seems to me that anonymous's sentence means "Winter is the time of year when clothes are most important (as compared to other times of year when they're less important.)
Your sentence, to me, means "Winter is a time of year when (of all things, food, water, clothes, etc) clothes are the most important.


Oh, huh. But if I write:

"You need clothes all year round, but in winter, you need clothes most of all"

Does my sentence seem more like anon's then? Because that was the intention...


I would lose the "of all" at the end. Maybe I'm crazy but I find that "of all" really confusing. "most of all" works when there is one thing in a class of things that you want to single out. I like black jelly beans most of all. Obviously "all" here refers to "jelly beans". But in your sentence it takes a little effort to get at what the "all" is.
Do you mean of all seasons? Of all times you need clothes? Of all the things that you need? It should be very clear what that "all" means.

I like potato chips most of all.
I hate Mino Monta most of all.
I like Chinese food most of all.
I need clothes most of all.

The thing that is liked is pork rinds, the thing that is hated is Mino Monta, the thing that is liked is Chinese food, so the thing that is needed must be clothes.

The all in the first sentence must apply to snack foods of which pork rinds is a variety.
The all in the second sentence refers to TV personalities of which group MM is a member.
The all in the third sentence refers to kinds of cooking of which Chinese food is a member.
The all in the last sentence refers to things that are needed, of which clothes are a member.

So your "all" in "most of all" would seem to refer to "things that are needed" not the fact that clothes are most necessary in the winter.

Of course, if you cut out the "of all" the problem disappears.

Right? I don't know, I've been looking at these sentences so long I'm getting confused!


Hmm.. I can see where you're coming from, but I still don't feel it personally. (And I don't think your examples are strictly parallel because by taking out the "In winter" equivalent, by definition you make it impossible for the "of all" to refer to that part of the sentences. So of course that's the result.)

Wouldn't this ambiguity be resolved in speech by the stress pattern?

In WINTER, you need clothes MOST of ALL.
In WINTER, you need CLOTHES most of ALL.
In WINTER, YOU need clothes most of ALL.

(BTW, your example sentences are also subject to the same thing if you stress the "I" in them...)

Also I feel like I can get the same results without the "of all":

In WINTER, you need clothes MOST.
In WINTER, you need CLOTHES most.
In WINTER, YOU need clothes MOST.

So maybe the issue is just that our written English-processing systems have different default stress patterns for sentences like this?

(Even if that's it, though, I appreciate the heads-up since (a) it's interesting, and (b) it seems that, valid as my default may be, it's still out of sync with everyone else's, which is a useful thing to be aware of.)

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