Cicada pee

Tracking down the book that San'yūtei Kinba III's "Argot Etymology" was originally published in, Ukiyo Dango 浮世断語 ["Pronouncements on the floating world", I guess], I found that it contained quite a few essays concerned with language — as you'd expect from a rakugo storyteller, really.

One of them, "The words and insults of old" (Mukashi no kotoba to waruguchi), contained a long list of truly awful puns. Representative example: "July spear" (shichigatsu no yari) for bonyari (vague, absent-minded, idle), because of the Bon festival in July.

Another: "cicada pee" (semi no shonben). This is glossed as simply zūzūshii (brazen, shameless). I assume that the joke here is zūzū (sound of a cicada) + shii (sound of peeing), but to be honest I've never seen cicada calls written as zūzū before. (Jiijii, yes, but not zūzū.) While trying to Bing up confirmation, I found this page, which actually lists two different meanings: ki ni kakaru ("be worried about something," an idiom literally meaning "it hangs on one's "; this happens to be homophonous with a phrase meaning "it gets on the trees"), and urayamashii ("be envious"; this one works because cicadas pee (shii, remember) in the mountains out back (urayama).

So it looks like the fact that "cicada pee" can be forced into a punny double meaning is a common joke, even if the actual double meaning used varies a bit.

(Incidentally, Kinba offers a different pun for ki ni kakaru: "a woodcutter's lunchbox" (kikori no bentō), because it hangs (kakaru) on a tree (ki).)

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