Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Kotoba Asobi: Dajare – Learning the Japanese Style of Wordplay 2

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/19 Traditional Culture , , , , , ,

In our last post about Kotoba Asobi, we learned about Japanese palindromes or kaibun. In this post, we will learn another type of kotoba asobi which is the dajare or Japanese puns.

Pun/Dajare

Pun – no, not that Japanese word for bread. That is pan! Pun is a form of word play which uses unrelated words of the same pronunciation (homophones), words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (homograph), metonymy (calling a thing or concept not by its own name but rather by the name of something it is associated with), and metaphors. A recent trend on Facebook, vaguely called Facebook Names, has got people changing the lyrics of a song to names of people.

dajare_1

The expression honno kimochi can be translated as “mere or just feelings” and is usually heard when someone is giving a gift. The expression can also be spelled as hon no kimochi which has a different and silly meaning: a book’s emotion. (Image from AC-Illust)

While English puns tend to be an ordinary sentence replaced with the aforementioned type of words to make the situation absurd or change the meaning, in Japanese, puns, which are called dajare (駄洒落), tend to have the same syllables said twice, carrying a different meaning the second time yet still making a completely understandable sentence.

dajare_2

The different types (spelled here as tai-pu) of Tai (Japanese for sea bream): koishitai (in-love tai), okoritai (angry tai), nemutai (sleepy tai), and tabetai (hungry tai). In Japanese language, ~tai is added to a word to express “want”. For example, tabetai, from the verb taberu which means “to eat”, means “want to eat”. (Image from AC-Illust)

Same as the English puns, Japanese puns are funnier to the teller than the receiver. When delivered, Japanese puns are to be said with a straight face, and are often reacted to with an even straighter face, as no one finds them funny. In Japan, listeners react to not funny jokes, especially dajare, by describing it as samui (寒い, lit. meaning cold).

Examples

Let’s learn some of these dajare and their meanings:

  • ニューヨークで入浴 (nyūyōku de nyūyoku) – taking a bath in New York

New York when spelled in katakana is ニューヨーク (nyūyōku), 入浴 (nyūyōku) means to take a bath

  • アルミ缶の上にあるみかん (arumi kan no ue ni aru mikan) – a mikan (Mandarin orange) on top of an aluminum can

Aluminum is shortened as アルミ (arumi) in Japanese, 缶(kan) has the same sound of its English translation, can. ある (aru) means to exist, and みかん (mikan) is a mandarin orange.

  • イルカがいるか (iruka ga iru ka?) – Is there a dolphin?
  • 塩がないのはしょうがない(shio ga nai wa shō ga nai) – It can’t be helped if there is no salt.

塩 (shio) is salt in Japanese while shō ga nai is an expression that means “it can’t be helped”

  • スキーが好き(sukī ga suki) – I like skiing.

スキー(sukī) is from the English word ski while 好き (suki) means “to like”.

  • 傷んだ廊下にいたんだろうか (itanda rouka ni itan darou ka?) – You were in the damaged hallway, weren’t you?

This one’s kind of clever. It formed a coherent sentence from using the same phrase twice. 傷んだ (itanda) means damaged, 廊下 (rouka) means hallway, いたん (itan) is the past tense of iru which means “to exist” and だろうか (darou ka) is a combination of two expressions is a sentence ender which can be translated as “right?”.

Dajare are also associated with oyaji gags (親父ギャグ), oyaji meaning “old man”, as an “old man” would be considered by the younger generation most likely to attempt dajare.

Do you know any dajare? Share it with us in the comments section below!

Before I end this post, here is some skit which shows how Japanese words can be fun and at the same time difficult featured in our previous post about urban legends:

output_bEcjc2

References:

1. Playing With Words Japanese Style: Kotoba Asobi. Tofugu.

2. Dajare. Wikipedia.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

tenugui

Tenugui: More than Just a Hand Towel

A tenugui (手拭い) in its simplest definition is a traditional Japanese hand towel made of cotton. It is usually about 35 by 90 centimeters in size. It is typically plain woven and though there are also plain designs, it has usually repeating patterns printed/dyed on its surface. But a tenugui is not just a plain […]

Read Article

furisode

Kimono – Traditional Japanese Clothing

As someone who is not from Japan, when I think of a Japanese traditional garment, I always think of a kimono. We usually see on media as worn by Japanese women during special occasions but did you know that the kimono is not as simple as it looks like? Or did you know that there […]

Read Article

10933010884_bef367e053_z

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Kata

Kendo kata are fixed patterns that teach kendoka the basic elements of swordsmanship. The kata include fundamental techniques of attacking and counter-attacking, and have useful practical application in general kendo. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 […]

Read Article

Osafune Sword 2

Osafune in Okayama: Sword learning centre – Part 2 –

Bizen Osafune Nihon-tou Denshuu-jyo (Bizen Osafune Japanese sword learning centre) 2 Information I got from the swordsmiths [Swordsmithing] There are two sizes of hammers to beat iron. The lighter one weighs 5 kg (approx. 11 lb / 176 oz). The other one 10 kg. Sometimes visitors want to have a try, and of course they […]

Read Article

Japanese firefly life cycle

Japanese Seasonal Events: Firefly Watching

It’s now rainy season in Japan. Although I’m already excited about rainy season, there’s another thing that made me excited – the fireflies! I live here in Japan for few years already but I have never tried firefly watching before. I didn’t even know there are events being held for this every year. Whenever I hear […]

Read Article

Firefly watching - upclose

Japanese Seasonal Events: Firefly Watching 2

Firefly watching in Shirochi, Takahashi In Okayama prefecture, there are at least seven places listed on the website that I visited. I decided to pick one with easy access and free parking area. The viewing spot is located in Ochiai-cho, Shirochi, Takahashi-shi. In other viewing spots, artificially-reared fireflies are released to join other wild fireflies. While in […]

Read Article

Men_(kendo)

Kendo, The Way of the Sword – Kendo Equipment

In our previous post about kendo, we learned about its history. In this post, we will learn about the kendo equipment. As the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) restored kendo and fight against the ban after the declaration of Japan’s independence, they then published “The Concept and Purpose of Kendo”. The Purpose of Kendo Its […]

Read Article

Osechi juubako - laid out

Osechi: Traditional Japanese New Year’s Food

“Shin-nen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu”, Happy New Year to everyone! How did you spend your year end vacation? I guess, everyone is still in their vacation mode. Did you eat osechi during “sanganichi” (三が日)? How was it? Did you know that each dish has its own meaning and significance? For people who are not familiar with osechi, let me […]

Read Article

midori no hi

Golden Week – Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day

Continuing our feature about Japan’s Golden Week, this post will feature the second and third holidays, the Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day. Constitution Memorial Day The Constitution Memorial Day, or Kenpō Kinenbi (憲法記念日) as it is known in Japan, is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated every May 3. The date signifies […]

Read Article

Kaki

Monkey -Part 1- “Saru Kani Gassen”

Monkey in a nursery tale The most famous tale of monkey is “Saru Kani Gassen” (The Battle Between A Monkey And Crabs). Saru is Japanese for monkeys, Kani is crab. Gassen is battle, pronounced as “Kassen” when it’s used as one word, Gassen when it’s a part of a word like “Yuki-gassen” (Snowball Battle). Outline […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑