Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Example of Arabian Karma

He who knocks on the door will hear the answer.
--- Arab Saying

If one speaks to another gently, he will get a gentle answer; if impolitely, an impolite one. Knock on the door gently.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Put Cat in Charge of Cheese

Put the cat in charge of the cheese, and girdle him with the sausage.
--- Arabic Saying

If you appoint the cat to be a guard of cheese, you will be called stupid, & additionally if you girdle the cat with the sausage (Arabic sijuq “sheep gut, sausage”), you will be called helplessly stupid. You shouldn’t do such a stupid deed, this proverb says.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Failure Causes Success

The occasion which teaches does not cause loss.
--- Arab Saying

If you buy something bad, it means that you have lost the money. But if you think that the failure is a lesson, the money is the tuition fee & is not your loss. The Japanese say more simply than the Arab: Failure is the source of success.


Proverb Data

Arab Saying
The occasion which teaches does not cause loss.



About "Life is a Joke"
Cheap Meat Stinks (Arabic Proverb on Shopping)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Expect Nothing

He who expects nothing is never disappointed.
--- Hindu Saying

This Hindi proverb has a pessimistic taste & reminds me of a Japanese proverb --- Resignation is very important. But it sounds like a zen thought in a different aspect.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sprichwörter sind der Spiegel

Sprichwörter sind der Spiegel der Denkart einer Nation.
--- Johann Gottfried von Herder

Taiji Takashima quotes this philosophical formula of Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) in his book Fountain of Japanese Proverbs, which contains Japanese sayings & corresponding proverbs in English, French, German, & Chinese. Different to the 18th century when Herder lived, now is the age when people, their ideas, information, knowledge, wisdom come & go to each other over borders. If Herder were a 21st century thinker, he would say. “Proverbs were the mirror of the thinking of a nation until the 19th century, or at least the previous century, but now any adage from any nation is shared by all nations.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

More Mysterious than Black Holes

Women. They are a complete mystery to me.
--- Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking (b. 1942) was diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, when he was 21 years old. This disease weakens all the muscles, paralyzes the body of the patient, & brings troubles in walking, speaking, breathing, & swallowing, & it is generally said to kill the patient within about a decade after symptoms are found. Fighting the deadly disease, the theoretical cosmologist studied of space & time at a mathematics post of the University of Cambridge between 1979 & 2009. He published A Brief History of Time, 1988, by which he won international fame. He has married twice & has three children in his private life, that can’t be considered easy. It seems to him that women are more mysterious than black holes. When a New Scientist magazine writer asked him what he thought about the most, at an interview for his upcoming 70th birthday celebration, 2012, he answered through the voice synthesizer:
Women. They are a complete mystery to me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Turn up a Stone

If Masamune Date (1567-1636), the warlord known as the One-Eyed Dragon in the Japanese history,  were an Arab, he would be regarded as the lord of bad luck. An one-eyed person is considered as a person of bad omen in Arab nations. Their custom of turning up a stone behind an unfavorable person walking by, is like the incantation of sprinkling salt in Japan, just after an unwanted guest has left a place, home, shop, etc.. The Arab say:
If thou seest a one-eyed person pass by, turn up a stone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Oaks from Acorns Grow

Great oaks grow from little acorns.
--- English Saying

The oak, living long & growing tall & great, was the divine tree for the ancient Celtic people. It is called the “monarch of the forest,” & considered the symbol of hospitality & patriotism (tree) & of bravery (leaf) in Britain. This proverb means that a great person was born a little baby, or a great enterprise starts at a small business.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

God's Purpose

If God purposes the destruction of an ant, He allows wings to grow on her.
--- Arab Saying

This proverb shows that one's easy success above their means & capacities causes their ruin. The Arab say that hardship, given to a man by God , is the key to true happiness. In other words,  this proverb proves that they believe in God. In Japan, without religious aspects, people say, “Buy hardship while you are young.” People also say, "bubble money (= easy money) is wasted insignificantly & it can’t be saved."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Help Your Neighbor

If your neighbor shaves (someone's head), soak the head of that person.
--- Arab Saying

Love your neighbor as yourself, the Christians say. The Arabs say indirectly & in a more concrete way. This proverb suggests that you should try to act by agreement with your neighbor.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Little Stroke Fell Great Oaks

Little strokes fell great oaks.
--- English Saying

The oak is a hard tree, but with the persistent effort of chopping you can fell it. The Chinese people are more tenacious than the English people. The equivalent Chinese proverb is: With the persistent effort of rubbing, you can make a needle from an iron hammer. These proverbs say that you can accomplish anything with the persistent effort.


Proverb Data

English Saying
Little strokes fell great oaks.



対応す日本のことわざ (中国語から)



About "Life is a Joke"

Saturday, February 15, 2014


衝立ての娘は、日本をはじめ世界各地の昔話を収集していた小泉八雲 (Lafcadio Hearn, 1850-1904) によると、江戸時代の作家白梅園鷺水によって伝えられた話のひとつである。若い学者が骨董屋で見かけた衝立てに描かれた少女に一目惚れして、買い求め、恋焦がれているうちに、心配して訪ねてくれた老学者から、遠い昔に亡くなったもののまだ魂は古い絵の中で生きているそのモデルの少女を衝立ての絵の中から出す方法を教わり、それを成し遂げて、来世も含め、永遠の愛を誓うというストーリーである。






Friday, February 14, 2014


ウンスンカルタは。ボルトガル人が日本にもたらしたカルタを基にして、元禄時代 (1688年~1704) に考案された遊び札である。天正カルタよりスートは一種類多くて五種類あり、ランクは三つ多くて十五あるから、都合一組七十五枚で構成されている。十五のランクのうち一から九までは数札であり、そのほかの六枚は絵札である。ウンスンウンはポルトガル語の um 「一 (one, a)」から、スンの正確な語源は不明だが、ラテン語 summa (女性形) 「積み上がったもの、高くなっていること、最高、合計」、あるいは、summus (男性形) 「最高」と関係があるかもしれない。これらのラテン語は英語の sum summit の語源である。十七世紀のポルトガル語の語彙に sum があったかどうか不明である。

江戸幕府は賭博を禁止したので、ウンスンカルタ遊びはすぐに姿を消したが、現在の熊本県人吉市 (江戸時代は人吉藩) にはウンスンカルタ遊びが遺っている。


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


メリヤスポルトガル語 meias 「靴下、ストッキング (socks, stockings) / スペイン語 medias 「靴下、タイツ、ホース (tights. hose)」からという。素材ではなく、伸縮性に富んだ編み方を指し、発祥地はエジプトで、中世に西欧に伝播し、十六世紀に日本に伝わった。平らに編むものもあるが、筒状に編んだものは靴下、スットキング、タイツ、股引などに仕上げる。英語には語源が異なる stockinette なる単語がある。英国では十六世紀末にウィリアム・リー (William Lee, 1563-1610) がメリヤス織り機を発明した。


Monday, February 10, 2014

Actual Profit and Imaginary Happiness

A thousand cranes in the air are not worth one sparrow in the fist.
--- Arab Saying

This Arabic saying feels to me rather exaggeratedly romantic than the English saying of Latin origin: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But the two birds in the bush, a thousand cranes flying in the sky, & the other entire universe out of my control are all the same in worthiness. I can’t use them actually, anyway.

One’s imaginary profit or happiness is expressed more humorously in Japanese: You estimate the skin of a raccoon dog, which you have not caught yet; or you can’t eat a piece of cake in the picture; or you are in rice bran happiness



Proverb Data

Arab Saying
A thousand cranes in the air are not worth one sparrow in the fist.


Similar English Proverb
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Arabic Proverb

Saturday, February 08, 2014



Word DNA 〜〜〜〜〜〜〜〜〜 

I (17th c.) “green pear-shaped fruit; its tree, its color.”


Via Spanish from Aztec language Nahuatl ahuacatl “testicle.” So called because of its similar shape.

various forms: avogato, avocato, avigato, alligator pear.


〜〜〜〜〜〜〜〜 言葉の遺伝子 〜

アボカドは中米原産のフルーツ (用例: Avocado is an economically valuable tree crop that originated in the New World but is today grown in many parts of the world... The avocado tree is native to Mexico and Central America, and its fruit has been a vital constituent of the local diet there for thousands of years... Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams... Popular Avocado Recipes... The key is to use a very ripe avocado to replace traditional dressing... )。 語源はナワトル語の ahuacatl 「睾丸」から。実 の形が睾丸に似ているので、こう呼ばれていた。 スペイン語では二番目の音節 -hua- -gua- に なった (ahuacate aguacate)。英語の異形に avigato があり、この語形は更に alligator に転訛した。英語でアボカドのことを alligator pear 「ワニナシ」と呼ぶこともあるのはこのためである。

日本語では、アボカドの発音は難しく、アボガ ドなどとなりやすいが、英語圏でも、語尾の有 声・無声の発音にはぶれがある。

food and drink words

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

Citius, Altius, Fortius.
--- Olympic motto

Citius, Altius, Fortius, the Latin words for “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” derives from French Dominican charismatic priest Henri Didon’s (1840-1900) speech made for the opening ceremony of a college sports event in 1891. His friend Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), the father of the modern Olympic games, was fond of the phrase of these three words & proposed it to be the Olympic slogan in order to cheer the athletes to get better goals in 1894. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Don't Fire the Worthless

If a worthless fellow be with thee, do not let him go, or else one worse will come to thee.
--- Arab Saying

As well as in Japan, patient people are respected for their nature in the Arab nations. This proverb is often addressed as a lesson to a person who complains of his servant.


--- 上方・江戸いろはかるた

The cauldron to boil rice has been stolen under the moonlight. This proverb teaches that carelessness leads to a mistake. In the US, there is a pet phrase of ball game players, similar in the sense to the Japanese proverb, Keep your eye on the ball! The Japanese also say, Carelessness is a great enemy. In a construction site, a  slogan like this is found, that reads literally: Carefulness in a second, injury for a lifelong time, that means “Be careful each & every second if you don’t want to take an incurable injury.” On the other hand, in the West, people have the positive thinking in the reverse way, saying Careful attention can accomplish anything.  

Monday, February 03, 2014

Consent or You Will Need the Judge

If my husband be consent, why should the kadhy’s interference be necessary?
--- Arab Saying

A kadhy is a judge in the Islamic law. used figuratively here. This proverb means that when the two interested  persons agree to each other & reconcile, the kadhy or any 3rd person will have no role.

Sunday, February 02, 2014


--- 江戸いろはかたる

から出たまことは江戸いろはかたるの「う」に割り当てられていることわざ。からかって言ったら、実現しまうような状況にこのことわざは使われる (用例: 彼の結婚は嘘から出た真であった... )。このは「冗談、戯言、作り話」のこと。



Proverb Data

A truth out of a joke.

free translation
A joke can be true.


About "Life is a Joke"


Aus Scherz kann leicht Ernst werden

Saturday, February 01, 2014


字に込められた思いは民族によって異なる。アラブ人は偶数を縁起が悪いと考える傾向がある。その典型例が「千夜一夜」という言い方に現れている。夜が沢山あるということを示すとき、英米人なら a thousand nights とでもいって片付けるのに、アラブ人はわざわざ「千の夜と一夜」のごとくいう。実際、ストーリーは千一夜続くが、西洋人なら百や千といったきっちり割り切れる数字を好むのに、アラブ人は奇数にこだわる。

イタリアの『デカメロン』は、アラブの『千夜一夜の書』と同様に枠構造を有している。上位のストーリー設定は、疫病の流行を逃れて集まった十人がそれぞれ一日に一話ずつ十日 (デカメロン) の間、物語を語るというものである。つまり、百一などという中途半端な数字ではなく、百というきっぱしの数字にたどりつく。



アラビア語のカリグラフィーは他の文字を有する民族の筆記法とは異なる。その極端な草書体は、楷書化を拒む性質が現れているように感じる。何か整然とした画一性に対する反抗心がアラブ人にはあるのかもしれない。千 (1,000) というきっちりとした数字よりも、千一 (1,001) という割り切れない、どこか不安定な奇数の方が、アラブ人には心地よいものなのだろう。

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