Language and culture. 日本語

I own about 1.35 meters of books about Japan. Including some fiction. In English. I had an interest in Japan in the 90s, so I think none of the books is newer than 20 years. I also have some dictionaries and the like about the language, but they have been stored away in boxes for years. I have seen them when moving, or going through old boxes. I think I still have them. A person near to me is learning Japanese, so I thought I would find the books. After all, language does not change that much. I went thru some boxes in basement, and found one, “Effective Japanese Usage Guide”. It takes e.g. a verb and gives usage examples in Japanese – with kanji and furigana and English translation. I randomly opened it and my eyes fell on:

“Please do not overwork yourself into a collapse”. Which is a rather Japanese sample sentence. See karoshi. Not that we do not have many cases of mental collapses in our culture. It is good advice. Does not even have to be a real collapse to be life-changing (in a negative way).

It is one of nine samples for the verb taoreru, “to fall down”. Another is “trees fell from typhoon”, and others include earthquakes, bowling strikes and bankruptcy. You get the picture.

The last one is on one hand rather universal (unlike typhoons and earthquakes this can happen anywhere), on the other very specific and limited. “He was killed by (an assassin’s) bullet while delivering a speech.” I must say I am slightly puzzled but also quite impressed by a language learning book that has such a … drastic example. Learn that sentence and spout it out on auto-pilot and you will cause head scratching. In fairness, the book is not about memorizing expressions.

The book’s format/methodology is really nice. I will not look through it for other fine samples. I hope I find the other books, too. I even had an electronic pocket dictionary. I think I still have it. Just have to find it. I hope it was not Lost in Translocation! 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *