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Rough Around the Edges: Part 2

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It’s officially summer! And on Alberto’s haiku calendar, the July page celebrates the arrival of summer!


Here’s the PDF where he explains the haiku a bit. Don’t be fooled (as I was) into thinking that 来ぬ means “has not arrived.” What we’re seeing is an old, literary, present perfect form of the verb. In other words, summer has come!

I’ve celebrated the arrival of summer with a trip to Spain, where I’ve been for nearly a week. Hope you’ve also rung in the season in a happy way. If not, there’s nothing like kanji to make you happy, so let’s get to it!

If you saw this compound and its breakdown, what would you think arasuji meant?

粗筋 (arasuji)     rough + plot

It could be a plot of land that someone has only roughly delineated. After all, the compound contains rice () and bamboo (), so the word might be agricultural.

Or maybe some rough people (ruffians, we could say!) are conjuring a dastardly plot. Perhaps they’ll stab someone with a stalk of rough bamboo. The primary meaning of is “muscle,” so we can imagine muscle-bound ruffians wielding that bamboo!

But 粗筋 has quite a different meaning. Rough + plot gives us “outline, summary.” We read 粗筋 with two kun-yomi, resulting in arasuji. With the yomi of suji, can mean “plot,” as in the plot of a play, a synopsis, outline, or scheme.

Before we go any further, I should let you know that the Japanese tend to write arasuji in hiragana, but what fun is that?! Seeing あらすじ, we would miss out on the nuances that and lend to this word.

As you know from last week, can mean “coarse, unrefined.” In 粗筋, it means “not elaborate, rough, crude, gross.” So 粗筋 gives us the roughest sense of a story line—its outline or summary.

More Roughness on the Play …



The following word is a great example of at its least refined:

粗野 (soya: unpolished, rude, vulgar, rough)     coarse + unrefined

The yomi reminds me of soybeans and therefore of edamame and soy milk (two favorites), so I like it. Moreover, knowing this word makes it possible to grasp lots of fun sentences that would otherwise elude me:

Kare no soyana jōdan ni Jēn wa hara o tateta.
His crude jokes made Jane angry.

(kare: he)
冗談 (jōdan: joke)     useless + talk
腹を立 (hara o ta(teru): to get angry)
     belly + to stand up

This is similar to a word we saw recently.

You’ll find more sentences about rudeness at the link.

Sample Sentences with 粗野


Finding Fault

With so many people lacking in manners, it’s a good thing some of us have dedicated our lives to finding fault with others and instructing them on how to better themselves. I must say that I’m a martyr to this cause. In fact, I’m not quite sure how my husband managed to drive, eat, or clean up before he met me. In our 19 years together, I’ve generously contributed hundreds, if not thousands, of pointers on these topics, and even though I don’t necessarily see that he has incorporated the suggested methods, I share my wisdom and knowledge regardless.

In fault finding, comes in handy. You may recall its third definition: “flaw (especially of a person).”

To be of utmost help in showing others just where their weak spots are, you’ll need this word:

粗探し (arasagashi: fault finding, nitpicking)     flaw + to look for

This ara usually appears in hiragana, but that wouldn’t fit well with our study of , so please drop your 粗探し about that for the moment!

A sample sentence:

Kanojo wa arasagashi no tensai da.
She is a genius at nitpicking.

彼女 (kanojo: she)     he + woman
天才 (tensai: genius)     innate + talent

I’m glowing with the compliment!

More sentences of this ilk at the link.

Sample Sentences with 粗探し

Here’s a term that nitpicking wives in Japan must love:

粗大ゴミ (sodai gomi: giant garbage; (slang for) husband)
     coarse + big + garbage

The Japanese sort garbage into various categories, including combustible trash, flame-resistant trash, and huge items that are big, coarse, and hard to discard. In the 1980s, this last category gave rise to a slang term. Some Japanese wives call their retired husbands 粗大ゴミ, implying that the men just sit around the house, moping and getting in the way. In Womansword: What Japanese Words Say About Women, Kittredge Cherry spends two pages (135–136) explaining this term.

Clearly, the expression could indicate a lot about marital dissatisfaction in Japan, and that’s Kittredge’s interpretation. But I wonder, too, if its cruelty reflects the self-deprecation that colored last week’s blog. For instance, if you combine this term with some of the sentiments we saw then, you could easily imagine a woman’s saying, “Please accept this small gift, which is really nothing, because my giant-garbage husband made it in our hovel of a house with the shoddiest of tools in his own incompetent way, and it’s all for you.”

Time for your Verbal Logic Quiz!

Verbal Logic Quiz …

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