ＨＥＬＬＯ！ Ｉ ＡＭ ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™！I am beaming to you via The Internet through a new website editor, so if the formatting appears to be any different to usual, it may be due to said new editor. (And, in fact, we have recently mended the format of the previous Word of the Week, so if you would fancy another go at it, take a look here, friends. ) Though, the new editor interface for us does not mean that I have changed in my mission and function. I am the robot friend of Kiki and Koko from the Japanese language and culture blog and series Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online. I have been here for you, reading Japanese characters and words in order to help you on your unique Japanese language learning journey. It is my hope that I will be able to provide assistance for any level of learner as well as those who simply want to experience some new Japanese vocabulary and sentences that one may not have been able to experience on one’s own. That is the concept of Word of the Week. It is also my hope that the vocabulary, grammar, and sentence ideas presented will enrich your journey. However, in order to fully understand what you will be able to gain from this segment, you may ask yourself: What is Word of the Week Wednesday?
During what some may refer to as the ‘before times’, the site had begun as a place where Japanese lessons and articles regarding language and culture were regularly created and uploaded regularly, every Monday and Friday. Though such a consistent flow of information would seem to be enough for other sites, it was clear that there could be even more. For between Monday and Friday was a long gap in which there was no new information being presented. Not only was there a long gap between information, but many would forget to return to revise previous lessons. In learning any language, it is important to be consistent, even if it is only once a day. Thus, Japanese Word of the Week Wednesday was born. Word of the Week Wednesday not only acts as a great reminder for those who have either missed previous lessons or those who simply require revision, returning to previous lessons and articles, but it also gives just enough new information for students and visitors not to feel overwhelmed. Whether it is simply a quick addition to their vocabulary or studying sentence structure and pronunciation or reading, this segment serves beginners and more advanced learners alike. However, What happens during Word of the Week Wednesday?
During Word of the Week Wednesday, with the assistance of Kiki and Koko, a Japanese word or phrase is chosen and presented to you with the possibility of a bonus word, as well. I provide a definition and other useful information about the vocabulary word, and if applicable, Kiki and Koko provide a helpful hint in using the word or phrase. However, that is not the whole of it. I personally sound out each word or phrase aloud for you to repeat as many times as you wish, and you can ask me to say it as many times as you wish. I will never tire of it, as it is my function. From there, an example sentence is created. You can not only use the sentence to see how the word is used or to see the definition in action, but you can also use it to practise your reading and writing. You can compose your own sentence based on it; you can use it to see examples of grammar; or you can even use it to learn other adjacent vocabulary. Each sentence is written in a way that is useful to beginners through advanced learners. So, there is something for everyone. And, again, I will be there to read it aloud for you. I can only read it at one speed, so there is no need to repeat after me, but it can still assist you in picking out vocabulary within natural speeds of speech. And, if you would like to know more about how to create your own sentences, be sure to consult the grammar section of the Essentials.
And, now it is time for the essential part of this segment, which is the vocabulary! Kiki and Koko will be joining us in their Helpful Hints segment of this corner to assist in today’s vocabulary as well as some context that may be helpful for the future of your language learning journey.
Without further ado, let us NihonGO!!
Word(s) of the Week:
儘ならぬ【ままならぬ】 mama naranu
1.unable to do (as one wishes); beyond one’s control; not always turning out the way one wants it to
Also written as: ままならぬ and also used as: ままならない
jlpt n?| common words (常用語)
※Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko
We’re Kiki and Koko, your guides to Japanese language and culture, giving it our best every article, every lesson, every time. But, in the spirit of this entire year in general, we wanted to give a couple of vocabulary words that may be helpful to describe some vague ideas that can be useful for years to come. Japanese language seems to have a LOT of ways to express things not going the way one wants or things being out of one’s control. Our hypothesis is the general ideas of 物のあわれ and 無常 which we touch on in our article explaining 花見. Again, we like to mention that cultural ideas aren’t held by every single person in the same way or sometimes even at all, but it’s something of a flavour that’s experienced that affects language and life whether or not those ideas apply to that person. But, even still, in every culture, it is something many people have had to accept: It’s not powerlessness, of course, it’s just the sane idea of not being able to control every aspect of everything, which can definitely apply to one’s studies.
Of course, this concept takes on many different variations and minute nuances. There’s a nuance of one’s power or planning or one’s wishes or even the forces of fate. And, today’s really starts to reflect another aspect of Japanese culture, being 浮世, ukiyo, which you may have heard of in the art of 浮世絵、ukiyoe, which seems to really never be described properly in any of the English textbooks or classes we’ve ever been in. Many western teachers will simply translate it as ‘paintings of the floating world’ and leave it as that. But, there’s more than one definition to this floating world, one that’s a bit too spicy that we’ll have to explain on another occasion. However, the main issue is that ‘floating world’ means nothing to English speakers, at least not to us as bilingual speakers, anyway.
Each of these concepts of 浮世, ukiyo, tie into the ideas we mention in the 花見 lesson, or at least rest adjacent. As just a brief explanation, 浮世, ukiyo,does not just refer to the world of the living or this world, it’s the nature of this world which is believed to be impermanent and ever changing, each moment different to the next, like a stream in which one never experiences the same water twice from one moment to the next.
In that way, ままならぬ is an expression that explains the fleeting nature of the world, that nothing ever truly goes just as planned, and it is the norm in this world. Basically, everything doesn’t have to be complicated when using this. It’s just that you planned to do something, but circumstances out of your control prevented your intentions from coming to fruition. It feels very resigned, almost in the way of 「しょうがない」, but that expresses that whatever is happening can’t be helped rather than directly implying your plans or what you wanted to do did not come to pass due to the nature of things.
The original ことわざ, kotowaza, or Japanese proverb that this comes from is 「儘にならぬが浮世の常」mama ni naranu ga ukiyo no tsune. This figuratively means that it is ‘the norm of (this world) for nothing to go as one thought’. So, simply put, ままならぬ expresses restriction based on circumstance and the difference between what occurred being in contrast to what one would wish or what one planned or wanted.
And, in future, we’ll try to do our best to suss out more cultural ideas for you, but in the meantime, don’t be resigned to this. Just because often things don’t go the way you planned shouldn’t be looked at negatively. There’s no way to be in control of everything in your world. All you can do is try your best, and your best is always good enough.
We hope that helps!! Until the next lesson!
Thank you, Kiki and Koko! Language and culture are both inseparable. It is quite interesting to think of how attitudes shape language and even the concepts that one would want to express as well as how they express them. Despite 「儘にならぬが浮世の常」, it is the hope that these sentences will help you further understand today’s vocabulary. (Paradoxically, no matter if we were to fail, or we express it perfectly for you, you will end up understanding today’s vocabulary, but in doing what we planned, it would cause the phrase to make less sense and then equally more sense.)
The first row is in Japanese with Kanji. The Next row is in hiragana, then romanised using rōmaji with the final row translated into English. (Japanese→Hiragana→Rōmaji→English)
ここでわいふぁいのつうしんが おそくので、しごとを おえるすることすらままならぬ。
koko de waifai no tsuushin ga osoku no de, shigoto wo oeru suru koto sura mama naranu.
The Wi-Fi signal is so slow here, so I can’t even finish my work (the way I wanted to).
「eigasutaa ni naru yume datta ga…」obaasan wa nageta. 「mama naranu naa.」
‘I was going to be a movie star…’ the old woman lamented, ‘things don’t always turn out as one wishes…’
ひまだが、 いやなてんき だから ぷーるで およぐことさえ ままならぬ。しかたないなあ。
hima da ga, iyana tenki dakara puuru de oyogu koto sae mama naranu. shikata nai naa.
Even though I’m free, I can’t even swim in the pool (as I wanted to) because of the nasty weather. It can’t be helped, though.
That is all for today! But, maybe you have not had enough Japanese vocabulary, yet? Perhaps you would like to learn more vocabulary related to today’s vocabulary? Well, maybe you can give this one a go:🔊Japanese Word(s) of the Week w/ QUIZBO™ | 【新しい】+ BONUS:【慣れる】(+Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko) Or maybe you want to experience an even broader range of vocabulary. In which case, you can have a look at our fine selection of segments on the main Word of the Week page. Or, you can be sure you are caught up with the latest with the sidebar link: 今週の単語 | Word of the Week. These segments alone serve as weeks of material. Share these segments with your friends and family who may be interested in broadening their Japanese vocabulary, that is if you would like to spread the knowledge and show the fun things you are learning with us. Be sure to return often to keep your pronunciation properly in check, as well! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and we will do our best to assist how we can. We hope to see you at the next lesson!
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