post

Japanese Lesson from Games: 九死に一生を得る a proverb for a narrow escape!

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Xenoblade Chronicles HD, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

kyuushi ni isshou wo eru
Kyuushi ni Isshou wo eta kibun da

Japanese: ありがとう。九死に一生を得た気分だ。

Romaji: arigatou. kyuushi ni isshou wo eta kibun da.

English: Thank you. I feel like I just barely escaped certain death.

九死に一生を得る。This is a proverb that means to somehow survive a situation that was so harrowing, it was as if it only had a 1 in 10 chance of survival. This phrase is used when you find yourself in a dangerous situation that you think there is no way that you could possible escape, but some how end up making it out. The literal way to understand the language is, (out of 10 attempts) there are 9 death and one who comes out alive.

Xenoblade Chronicles doesn’t have the cool audio replay features that Fire Emblem Three Houses has, but it has great cut scenes with quality Japanese audio and text to learn from. The game is also epic. Check it out!

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

post

Japanese Lesson from Games: 人の上に立つ者

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - hito no ue ni tatsu mono
Octopath Traveler – hito no ue ni tatsu mono

Kanji: 人の上に立つ者

Romaji: ひとのうえにたつもの

English: To lead. A leader. Literally, to stand over others.

This phrase is often used in work situation to describe someone who managers others. In this scene H’aanit (my favorite character) is musing that about a leader’s preparedness 覚悟 and determination 決意.

人の上 is “over people.” に is a particle. And 立つ is “to stand.” 者 is the object here, and indicates a person.

I came across this page on 新R25 when I was researching this phrase. The article is titled 「人の上に立つ」なんて性根が腐っていて気持ち悪い。これからのリーダーは“円を描ける人”だ which roughly translates into, “The phrase ‘to stand over others as a leader’ has a rotten character and feels disgusting. Leaders should be “people who can draw a circle” from now on. In his article he claims that people are people, no one is above or below the other. He says that we should do away with a pyramid structure way of thinking, and use a circle as the base instead. He then goes on to say that new leaders should play more of a captain role. There are many instances of the 人の上に立つ者 phrase throughout the article if you want more context for your Japanese learning!

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

post

Japanese Lesson from Games: One or two habits

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - hitokuse futakuse
hoka mo hito kuse futa kuse aru renchuu da!

Japanese: 一癖二癖ある

Hiragana: ひとくせふたくせある

Romaji: hito kuse futa kuse aru

It seems this is usually 一癖も二癖もある hito kuse mo futa kuse mo aru and means a person with a very unusual and quirky personality, normally used in a negative context.

There’s actually a lot of good Japanese in this screenshot. You’ll see the speaker is labeled as 客引き kyakuhiki which is often translated as a ‘tout’ but is basically someone who works to attract customers to buy their products, usually by calling out to them.

突如 totsujyo means ‘suddenly’, and isn’t a phrase I was familiar with.

連中 renchuu is a somewhat casual way to refer to a person or a group of people. It’s often used in a slightly negative context, but not always.

Good stuff! I really enjoyed this game. If you’re looking for a classically structured JRPG to play on your Switch, I can confidently recommend this one.

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

post

Dajyare. Japanese Jokes. Oyaji-gag. Learn them, but use with caution.

That’s right. Japanese jokes. Japanese jokes are pretty interesting. There is a whole category of them that is entirely based on word play. Dajyare are made mainly of words that can have multiple meanings when pronounced..

The jokes don’t always involve two ‘words’ that can have double meanings, they occasionally use the grammar in the middle of a sentence can sound like a word as well. The closest cultural translation is probably “dad jokes,” however dad jokes to not always include the same wordplay as Japanese dajyare.

Dajyare is 駄洒落。駄、which is the ‘da’ used in ‘dame 駄目’, which means, bad, more or less. 洒落 (しゃれ)、means joke. So, together dajyare is a type of bad, or failed joke. Sometimes they are also called oyajigyagu. Where oyaji is old man, and gyagu, is… gag. The proper response when you hear a bad joke in Japan is to say ‘samui’ 寒い, which means cold.

Warning: Though they can be clever, dajyare, or oyaji gags, are universally considered to be groaners. They are so horrible that if used incorrectly the joke teller may be shunned by their peers. The younger generation will undoubtedly label the frequent wielder of oyaji gags to be someone who is awkward and completely out of touch. This is because the true dajyare master can work the jokes into any serious conversation without missing a beat. The dajyare master is always listening. Listening to every word in a conversation while simultaneously searching their expansive database of dajyare to retrieve and execute one at the appropriate time. Timing is everything. The best dajyare isn’t lazily delivered out of nowhere as a standalone gag, it is stealthily worked into innocuous conversation, forcing the listeners to acknowledge the joke, while suppressing their disgust.

Here’s a famous example.

Japanese: monoreru mo noreru. モノレールも乗れる。
English: You can also ride the monorail.
Humor: Try saying the Japanese aloud. You say monoreru twice, the first monoreru is ‘monorail’, the second ‘mo’ is also, and ‘noreru’, is can ride.

If you can manage to work that into a regular sentence… you’ll be the talk of the town!

For example:

A: Hey, getting to Tokyo Disney Land is easy! You can just take the train!
A: 東京ディズニーランドは行きやすいよ。電車で行ける!

B: You can even take the monorail!
B: モノレールも乗れる!

A: So… So cold…
A: さ、さむい。

Here is my personal dajyare creation.

A: How do you say sidewalk in Japanese?
B: hodou (歩道)
A: naruhodo! (なるほど!)

Now that’s comedy.

Want more? Here’s 100 Japanese Oyaji Gags you can use… Who are these kids? I want to hang out with them.

100 Dajyare in Rapid Succession!!! Oh the Humanity!

Need help? Here’s an explanation of the first five jokes to get your mind in the right space so that you can work out the rest.

赤色はあかん aka wa akan

赤色はあかん。

赤色 (akairo) means “red.” あかん (akan) is kansai dialect for “that’s won’t do” or “that’s bad,” it’s basically the same as だめ in standard Japanese. So, this is funny because they are saying “Red is no good!” but, the あか sound repeats.

イカいかすねぇ ika ikasu ne!

イカ(ika) means squid. いかす (ikasu) is slang for “cool.” so this is just the squid is cool. Forms of this joke appear frequently in the awesome game, Splatoon and Splatoon 2.

牛を飼う ushi wo kau

牛を飼う (ushi wo kau) simply means to keep a cow as a pet. This joke is absolutely bonkers hilarious (in an oyaji gag way) because the verb 飼うis pronounced (kau) and sounds just like “cow.” And, “cow,” is 牛 (ushi) in Japanese!

エイでえいっ!ei de ei!

エイでえいっ!An エイis a stingray. The kind that swims in the ocean. えい! Is something you might shout when you would say “Yeah!” or “Let’s goooooo!” in English. So you can kinda imagine someone riding on the back of a ray shouting yeah! Maybe it’s Aquaman.

女が立ちあがーる onnna ga tachi agaaru

女が立ちあがーる (onna ga tachiagaaru) means the girl stands up. The “a” sound in “tachi agaru” has been artificially lengthened to make the joke work. The joke, is that tachi a gaaru sounds like “girl” ガール in romanized Japanese. Get it?

Learn all 100 of these dajyare and then start writing your own. Might be fun!

post

Japanese Lesson from Games: 損切り

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - Songiri
songiri tte yatsu yo. shitteru yone?

Kanji: 損切り

Hiragana: そんぎり

Romaji: songiri

English: To cut your losses.

Teresa scolds, 「損切りってやつよ、知ってるよね?」songiri tte yatsu yo. shitteru yone? This phrase means, “It’s about cutting your loses, you know that right?”

They key phrase itself should be somewhat easy to internalize, even though I don’t think I had heard it before seeing it in this game. The first character means 損 (そん) “loss.” 損する is the verb form and literally means to “lose” in the sense of profit and loss, not to lose a competition (負ける) and not in the sense of misplacing and object (なくす). The second character means “cut,” so the characters point to the “cut loss” meaning directly.

The grammar immediately following is very informal, as is the entire speech bubble. Our hero says, 損切りってやつよ.

ってやつ is a very informal way of saying ということ. She’s saying, that she’s talking about the thing called “cutting your losses.” She then follows by saying, 知ってるよね, you know that right? It should be a snarky tone, translated something like… “It’s called ‘cutting your losses.’ You have heard of that concept… right?” So sassy!

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

Japanese Lesson from Games: たまげた

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler Screenshot - Tamageta
tamageta… koitsu wa shourai, oomono ni naru zo

Kanji: 魂消た (The kanji doesn’t seem to be that commonly used, and it wasn’t in the game.)

Hiragana: たまげた

Romaji: tamageta

English: To be astonished, startled.

I don’t think I had learned the phrase たまげた before… It’s funny. I like it. The Kanji doesn’t seem to be commonly used, but it literally means that your spirit vanished or disappeared.

The Japanese website GOGEN explains that the expression has been around since the Meiji Era and means to have such a surprising experience that your spirit disappears. It also says that now there is also another expression, 魂切る (tamagiru), which currently has the same meaning, but wasn’t always that way.

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

post

Japanese Lesson from Games: 取捨選択

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler Screenshot - Decision to accept or reject
jinsei wa shusha sentaku no renzoku da

Kanji: 取捨選択

Hiragana: しゅしゃせんたく

Romaji: Shusha Sentaku

English: Choices. Decision to accept or reject.

Rough literal translation: Life is a continuous string of decisions on what to accept and what to reject. I suspect the actual in game translation is something like, “Life is nothing but a series of choices…”

The phrase that I didn’t know until encountering it in this game is 取捨選択 shusha sentaku. This is one of those phrases where if you know the individual characters, you can pretty much guess the meaning of the phrase.

The first character 取 means “to take,” and the second character 捨 means to “throw away” and is common in the verb 捨てる. The next two characters make up a common vocabulary of 選択 which means to chose, make a selection, or choice.

All together 取捨選択 means to make a decision as to whether to accept or reject something.

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

post

Japanese Lesson from Games: The Strength You Find in an Emergency

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - Kajibano BakaJikara
Kajibano Bakajikara – The burst of strength you get when in a tight spot

Japanese: 火事場の馬鹿力 

Hiragana: かじばのばかぢから

Romaji: kajiba no baka jikara

So first off, type 馬鹿力 you should type “bakadikara” if you’re typing in romaji. This is written with ぢ, not じ, the pronunciation of ぢ and じ are essentially the same.

My super literal yet fun translation of 火事場の馬鹿力 is, the ridiculously stupid strength you get when you are in the middle of a fire. A good way to translate it might be, an adrenaline rush, or a person’s fight or flight response. Great phrase isn’t it?

The description under this ability says that the character that has this equipped will deal an increasing amount of damage the lower their HP falls. I love the fun name of the ability matches the in game effect. When you’re on your last legs you’ll find that extra burst of strength and deal out more damage than you’ve ever dealt before. It also seems that this ability is a pretty good one for this game, allowing your characters to deal ridiculous amounts of damage.

They localized 火事場の馬鹿力 to “fortitude” in the English version. Not nearly as interesting in my opinion, but kudos to localizers, that’s not an easy job! They are not only limited by differences in language, but by screen real estate and character limitations as well.

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

Japanese Lesson from Games: Use them with your chin (?!)

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

ago de tsukau kurai no
ago de tsukau kurai no ooakindo ni natteru ze!

The phrase I want to highlight in this post is あごで使う and it literally means, “to use (someone) by the chin.” Pretty hard to understand this phrase from the words alone!

The character on the right in this scene is Teresa, a merchant. Before this point in the game she met this merchant boy and they had gotten into a selling war… and more. No spoilers, but Teresa comes out on top.

Later, the merchant boy on the left is saying to Teresa that when they finally meet again, he will have improved his craft so much that he will be the one calling the shots and telling Teresa what to do.

Japanese: 顎で使う

Hiragana: あごでつかう

Romaji: ago de tsukau

ago de tsukawarerunoha docchi kashirane
ago de tsukawareru no ha docchi kashira ne

She’s confident and responds, hrm… I wonder which of us will be the one to be calling the shots… You’ll notice the passive form of the verb “to use” as tsukawareru. The “kashira” at the end is the sentence ending particle, usually feminine, to express a question, often to one’s self. More on kashira here on Tae Kim’s Guide.

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.