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Encyclopedia > Japanese proverbs

Contents

Kotowaza

A Japanese proverb (ことわざ kotowaza) may take the form of:

  • a short saying (言い習わし īnarawashi),
  • an idiomatic phrase (慣用句 kan'yōku), or
  • a four-character idiom (四字熟語 yojijukugo).

Although "proverb" and "saying" are practically synonymous, the same cannot be said about "idiomatic phrase" and "four-character idiom". Not all kan'yōku and yojijukugo are proverbial. For instance, the kan'yōku 狐の嫁入り kitsune no yomeiri (Literally: a fox's wedding. Meaning: a sun-shower) and the yojijukugo 小春日和 koharubiyori (Literally: small spring weather. Meaning: warm spring-like weather in early winter) are not proverbs. To be considered a proverb, a word or phrase must express a common truth or wisdom; it cannot be a mere noun. Look up saying in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... An idiom is an expression (i. ... In Japanese, yojijukugo (四字熟語) refers to a compound word consisting of four kanji, or Chinese characters. ...


The Japanese love proverbs and use them frequently in their everyday life, often citing just the first part of a well-known phrase in an effort to be brief. For example, one might say Inonakano kawazu 井の中の蛙 to refer to the proverb Inonakano kawazu taikai wo shirazu 井の中の蛙、大海を知らず.


Because traditional Japanese culture was tied to agriculture, many Japanese proverbs are derived from agricultural customs and practices. Some are from the Go game (e.g., fuseki wo utu 布石を打つ) and Buddhism and many four-character idioms are from Chinese philosophy, in particular "The Analects" by Confucius. Go is a strategic board game for two players. ... This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ... Yin Yang symbol and Ba gua paved in a clearing outside of Nanning City, Guangxi province, China. ... Analects (論語 Pinyin: Lúnyǔ), or Analects of Confucius, written in twenty chapters, is thought to be a composition of the late Spring and Autumn Period. ...


The heavy employment of proverbs enables Japanese language to be compact, quick and simple. Evidence might be found in Japanese animation and manga, but also appears in news and cultural programs, and in much fiction. Still from the movie Ghost in the Shell (1995) This article is about Japanese animation. ... Manga )   (pl. ...


A list of Japanese proverbs can be found at Wikiquote:Japanese proverbs.


Examples of Japanese proverbs

Sayings

  • 案ずるより産むが易しい。
    • Anzuru yori umu ga yasashii.
    • Literally: Giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it.
    • Meaning: Fear is greater than the danger. / An attempt is sometimes easier than expected.
  • 出る釘は打たれる。
    • Deru kugi wa utareru.
    • Literally: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
    • Meaning: The nonconformist will be pounded down. / Don't make waves.

Idiomatic phrases

  • 猫に小判 neko ni koban
    • Literally: gold coins to a cat
    • Meaning: casting pearls before swine / Giving something of value to a recipient that does not value it
  • 七転び八起き nanakorobi yaoki
    • Literally: stumbling seven times but recovering eight
    • Meaning: Bouncing back up as often as Fortune knocks one down
  • 猿も木から落ちる Saru mo ki kara ochiru
    • Literally: Even monkeys fall from trees
    • Meaning: Anyone can make a mistake.

Look up cast pearls before swine in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Four-character idioms

  • 十人十色 jūnin toiro
    • Literally: ten persons, ten colors
    • Meaning: To each his/her own. / Different strokes for different folks.
  • 悪因悪果 akuin akka
    • Literally: evil cause, evil effect
    • Meaning: Sow evil and reap evil. / The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. / You reap what you sow

See also

Japanese culture and language Japans isolation until the arrival of the Black Ships and the Meiji era produced a culture distinctively different from any other, and echoes of this uniqueness persist today. ... Japanese  ) is a language spoken by over 130 million people, mainly in Japan, but also by Japanese emigrant communities around the world. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

English (both literal translation and English equivalents), with expanations of meaning and history). Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is a sister project of Wikipedia, using the same MediaWiki software. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
'STILL WATERS RUN DEEP' - PROVERBS ABOUT SPEECH AND SILENCE: A CROSS-LINGUISTIC PERSPECTIVE (1390 words)
Kuusi (1972) developed the notion of a proverb typology, and described proverbs from different languages which shared the same idea and were expressed in the same or a similar image as being variants of the same proverb type.
Proverbs provide excellent data for illustrating what Grice (1975) has described as the Co-operative principle: "Make your contribution such as is required at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you engage".
The listener's identification of a proverb is a two-fold process involving first the abstract notion of "proverb" as it is culturally or ethnically conceived, and secondly a means of assigning individual utterances to that genre.
THE '96 TOKYO INTERNATIONAL PROVERB FORUM (4317 words)
Although the identification of traditional texts as proverbs and their arrangement in collections of various types are of paramount importance, proverb scholars have always known that the interpretation of their use in oral or written speech acts is of equal significance.
Proverbs in traditional Korean society differ from those of western societies, in that they are a cultural heritage of the lower class of society and therefore they are not shared by the upper class, who had for their cultural vehicle the "sijo" poetry, the three-lined, forty-five syllabled form of vernacular language.
To determine whether in fact proverbs are seldom used, or are used with a meaning different from the original one, this survey probing the modern consciousness of Japanese proverbs was undertaken.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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