Sunday, January 30, 2011


This week in shuuji 習字 we did four diads in renmen 連綿体の「けふ」(今日)、「みゆ」、「やま」、「ゆき」—やまの「ま」は「万」だった—then four forms of を (not お!) in hentaigana 変体仮名, then 大きい習字, single characters from the current sousho 草書 on larger paper with larger brushes. I did two sousho forms of 寒 (because I enjoy its drama—it's a beautiful character and very Annie Lennox, "cold, cold, cold...."). The larger brush (実は先生のお筆) is even harder to control, but I found it helpful to keep my elbow up and write from my entire arm. 寒、寒、寒、寒。。。。 My ウ冠 is more successful in sousho than in gyousho, but still I keep extending it too far on the right side and holding it too long. Cさん,僕の習字の友達, didn't like anything she'd written and had problems with kozatohen (阝偏?), but I still think her work is much better than mine. (I did kozatohen with 陰 and really love it. 木の陰や。) I'm in awe of 習字の先生; I don't know how it's possible to know so much. I asked her about choosing hentaigana when writing poems, and she said you choose the characters per your line width, the shape, など—ie, as seems so often to be the case in Japanese (and maybe in other languages), You Just Have to Know what to do.

書きにくい. I was thinking about a 小筆 (kofude, thin brush) that I bought a few weeks ago that's very difficult to use because the cut of its bristles is such that with consistent pressure it gives you a wider horizontal than you want. I was practicing with it because it's my most difficult brush. Can we call that 書きにくい筆? Or is it only 書きにくい漢字? Ie, does Japanese make the distinction that English does between a thing that is difficult to *write with* and a thing that is difficult to *write*? この漢字は、書きにくい漢字だと思う。この漢字は、大きい筆を使って書きにくいね。Or should I just say about the brush that it's 使いにくい and leave 書く out of it?

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Was just wondering whether "であったら" would be grammatically correct and sensical; per Google, there are 107 million instances of it out there. This surprises me because I think of ったら forms as "once a situation has come to pass"、as in どうしますか, what will/would you do. 着いたら電話してください, please call when you arrive. 止めたら、どうしようかなぁ。 I wonder what I should do once I quit. So, wouldn't a です form be better expressed as 成る, naru, to become? お金持ちになったら、お金を貸してください, when you're rich (when you've become a wealthy person), please lend me some cash. How would this differ in sense from お金持ちであったら。。。? Would it be something like "if it turns out to be"? 会う予定の人はお金持ちであったら、お金を借りてください, if the man you're planning to meet turns out to be rich, please borrow some money.

It may also have a sense of "if [I] were", as in this 例 from the net: 「もしも私が小鳥であったら」。 So maybe the difference would be that between becoming a bird and having always been a bird. Ie, not "if I suddenly (stopped being a human) and became a bird", but "if I'd been born a bird". 猫であったら、牛乳が好きかなぁ。 I wonder whether I'd like milk if I were a cat. 猫じゃなかったら、牛乳が好きかなぁ。 I wonder whether I'd (still) like milk if I weren't a cat (, thought the cat). If so, would a more formal way be 猫ではなかったら? I'd think not, but hmm. I'll have to keep looking for examples.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Quotations by Matsushita (2).

Another quotation by 松下幸之助 (Kounosuke Matsushita):

otagai no choushoketten o yoku shiriai,

soshite ketten o okinaiau.

soko kara kyoudou no shigoto no hatten ga umareru.

By getting to know each other's strengths and weaknesses, you can make up for each other's weaknesses. Then you can really start working together. ("From there, the growth of shared work is born.") More comprehensible than that last one. Are there rules for omitting と in phrases like 左右 and 長所欠点?

Another by Matsushita:

kunan ga kureba sore mo yoshi,

junchou naraba sara ni yoshi,

to iu kokorodzumori o tsune ni mochi,

hito ichibai no hataraki o tsumikasaneteyuku koto ga taisetsu da to omou.

この名言は僕にもっと分かりにくいと思うが。「という心づもり」and 「人一倍」are throwing me off. "Come good fortune or bad..." the important thing is to stick to your plans and build up your efforts? Accumulate your works? 持ち。。。積み重ねてゆくことが大切だ。

One more:

ningen to iu mono ha,

tashou konnan ya shuppai ga atta ga

yori ooki na ikigai wo kanjirareru mono de aru.

So.... For human beings, a few reversals and failures make us all the more sensitive to our larger purpose in life? Man is a creature that by enduring difficulties and setbacks is more able to focus on larger things? Problems with 多少 and より. I just don't get より, maybe because I tend to think of it as "less" because in ほう。。。より expressions it follows the thing that is outdone by the other thing. AのほうがBよりいいだろう。 And I almost want a なる form around 感じる, as in "as we endure, we become"—but no such luck.

Quotations by Matsushita.

It knocks me out sometimes that I can still, though I know what the words mean and can speak them, have no idea what a thing is actually trying to say: 他人は、すべて、自分よりもアカンと思うよりも、他人は自分よりエライのだ、自分のないものをもっているのだ、と思う方が、結局はトクである。


?! Not seeing how よりも。。。と思うよりも works.

Why do we need the 他人は repeated here? How does the は work?

I kinda think I may get this, though without a larger context....

Why 方? I'm assuming I'm interpreting 結局は correctly.

I'll take another look tomorrow after some sleep. Probably it's just that I'm thinking in English; maybe too the expression is witty in some way that's beyond me.

Take 2.

A は, then two よりも, the second of which follows a verb (without a だ before と思う); then the same は and stem repeated but this time with エライ, again in katakana, and のだ without a な (so presumably it's calling on the same noun as in the first construction?!), and then a second のだ phrase, and then a line starting with と思う, a 方が that may/should link to all the よりも, and then a super simple closing with another は that's probably a light one (as in 実は) rather than an actual topic marker. "In the end it's all profit"? I almost got somewhere with rearranging the phrases, but then I found a より in something I wanted sub to my 方. (?_?) (;_;)

I can't even figure out whether 自分 here is 他人 or the speaker. それも分からない。 It does make more sense if I read it as the speaker comparing others to himself. But why the two "よりも"?

Take 3. Maybe the speaker is comparing two quoted ways of thinking. "Rather than thinking you're better than everyone else (that others are more useless than you are), in the end you're better off thinking others are better than you and have things you don't have."

Adding quotation marks is helpful:
「他人は、すべて、自分よりもアカン」 と 思う より も、
「他人は自分よりエライのだ、自分のないものをもっているのだ」 と 思う 方 が、
結局 は、 トク で ある。

"Tanin ha, subete, jibun yori mo AKAN" to omou yori mo, "Tanin ha jibun yori ERAI no da, jibun no nai mono o motteiru no da" to omou hou ga, kekkyoku, TOKU de aru.

That kinda feels right.


Monday, January 24, 2011


今日は会社の仕事が沢山あったけど、スパ・ヅパつまらなかったので、僕は出来るだけ日本語を練習した。まず少し朝日新聞を読んでみたが、新聞がちょっと読みにくくて、読む時間がかかりすぎたから、諦めちゃった。捨てちゃった。それからチュイッターのサイトに行って、面白い日本語のチュイットをキ・ワードで探して読んでみた。木・ワードは「習字」や「小筆」や「天気」や「名言」など。 チュイットのテキストはいつも短いし、読むことがもっと易しいと思った。凄かった。

習字。。。。 先回(土)は小筆を使って連綿のひらがなの「まつ」、「とし」、「かぜ」、「うち」と変体仮名の「る」を学んで練習した。それから、筆で「寒鳥喧」の草書を書いてみた。僕の書いた文字はたいてい多きすりう、たいてい小さすぎる。本当に上手じゃないが、沢山練習と、そろそろ、いつか。。。。 今度は、添書を始めると思う。それに、すぐ小筆で「連綿」で俳句を書いてみると思う。僕の選んだ俳句は一茶が書いたのだ: 「山寺や・雪の底なる・鐘の声」。冬のことみたいので、早く初めたほうがいいと思う! レッスンはいつものように楽しかった。先生のおアパートは高い階(?)にあるので、窓から沢山見える。雪や町や晩の光など、すごくきれいだと思った。