It’s time for Word of the Week again! Last time we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘mi’ (み), focussing on みそ (miso), not the soup, but looking at the other ways in which the word is used. This week I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘mu’ (む). A big thank you for the suggestions this week:
Japan Australia suggested ‘muri desu’ (無理です), ‘impossible’; ‘muri shinai de’ (無理しないで), ‘take it easy!’; and ‘mukatsuku’ (ムカつく), an informal term for being irritated or pissed off; lovelycomplex22 also suggested ‘mukatsuku’ (ムカつく); and Rockin’ suggested ‘muriyari’ (無理矢理), ‘forcibly’, ‘against one’s will’.
There were some great suggestions this week. and I do hope no one will be ‘mukatsuku’ if I don’t pick their idea. However, this week I would like to write about…
“Once upon a time, long long ago…” – that’s how all the best stories start, and it would seem this is universally true no matter which country the story comes from. Well, it’s true in the case of the UK and Japan, anyway. Japanese folk tales traditionally begin with the line ‘mukashi mukashi’, which is written with two simple kanji: 昔々. The second of these kanji simply means ‘x2’, and tells the reader to repeat the first kanji. This is used in other words and phrases, not just ‘mukashi mukashi’, and is called an ‘ideographic iteration mark’ or ‘kurikaeshi’ (繰り返し) in Japanese.
The full sentence used to begin Japanese folk tales is typically: ‘mukashi mukashi, aru tokoro ni’ (昔々あるところに), which means ‘a long time ago, in a certain place…’. When you hear a real storyteller say this phrase it’s said in a really specific way, and sounds like “mukaashi, mukashi”. I was lucky enough to meet a real storyteller on my recent trip to Japan (pictured below), but there’ll be more about that in a future post!
Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘me’ (め), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘mezurashii’ (めずらしい) meaning ‘rare’ , would be acceptable, but ‘Meguro’ (目黒), an area of Tokyo, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v