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なつこ: こんにちは、なつこです。
Peter: Peter here.
なつこ: 四字熟語
Peter: Lesson 1. Now Natsuko san, we have a brand new series.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: And it is all about 四字熟語
なつこ: 四字熟語
Peter: One more time, I think your pronunciation is a little bit better.
なつこ: I hope so 四字熟語
Peter: Which is a four-character compound word and these are four Chinese characters.
なつこ: そうですね。Kanji.
Peter: And they form an idiomatic phrase. So I think it’s translated – it can be translated several ways. Four character compound, four Chinese character compound, four character idiomatic compound. It’s quite a few ways to translate this but the end result is an idiomatic phrase that means a lot more than the four characters there.
なつこ: Right. It often has a background story.
Peter: Yes. And what we want to do is look at some of these terms. Actually, what we want to do is look at two each class to kind of give you an insight not only into the Japanese language but also into how Japanese people think because you can learn a lot from idioms.
なつこ: Right. So it may be a bit similar to cultural lesson.
Peter: Yes. Now the interesting thing about Yojijukugo is that it’s actually a Yojijukugo itself.
なつこ: You are right.

Lesson focus

Peter: So the phrase Yojijukugo is actually a four character compound word. So what does the first character mean?
なつこ: 四 This means four.
Peter: The second character?
なつこ: 字This means letter.
Peter: Third, we have
なつこ: 熟 This means ripe or mature.
Peter: And finally we have
なつこ: 語This is word.
Peter: So altogether we have four letter ripe word.
なつこ: And 熟語 means an idiom or phrase. So it’s kind of well mature words, well made words.
Peter: The meaning is matured and these four letter compounds, they have evolved into these to mean different things and what we want to do in the series is cover them to give you insight into the way Japanese people think how to use these and what we want to do in this series is cover some of these more commonly used phrases. Now we have two for you today. So Natsuko san, are you ready?
なつこ: はい。悪戦苦闘
Peter: Hard fight, hard fought battle, uphill struggle. One more time
なつこ: 悪戦苦闘
Peter: Break it down.
なつこ: (slow) あくせんくとう (natural speed)悪戦苦闘
Peter: Let’s take a look at the four characters that make up this word.
なつこ: Okay it looks pretty bad. The kanjis used here are kind of depressing.
Peter: I know. We probably should have started with a more kind of upbeat phrase.
なつこ: Okay, okay.
Peter: But…
なつこ: But they are kind of easy. Once you get the meaning, it would be really easy to figure out what this expression means.
Peter: There we go. So what do we have first?
なつこ: 悪
Peter: Bad, evil.
なつこ: 戦
Peter: Battle.
なつこ: 苦
Peter: Suffering.
なつこ: 闘
Peter: Fight. So bad battle suffering fight. A little depressing.
なつこ: But the entire thing means
Peter: Hard fight like a hard fought battle and also an uphill struggle.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: So Natsuko san, what kind of case could we use this in like for example
なつこ: この文章は難しくて悪戦苦闘してるんですよ
Peter: This sample sentence is really, really tough. It’s an uphill struggle.
なつこ: Yes so we pretty much use it in daily occasion.
Peter: Very high frequency phrase.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: So you can use it in many different contexts.
なつこ: Right. Not really serious situation to of course you know a real conflict or fight.
Peter: And also from a mental challenge to a physical one.
なつこ: Exactly.
Peter: The example we gave was a mental challenge like you are struggling to wrap your you know, head around it but its really tough.
なつこ: You are right.
Peter: How about an example from the physical aspect?
なつこ: 松井選手はリハビリに悪戦苦闘していました
Peter: 松井 of course of the New York Yankees 松井 had a really hard fought rehabilitation. So again, there is the physical aspect.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: All right. Let me try and say this phrase 悪戦苦闘
なつこ: 悪戦苦闘
Peter: 悪戦苦闘 Is it standalone? Do we use it with the copula or can we use it with the suru verb?
なつこ: Usually we use it with suru 悪戦苦闘する
Peter: 悪戦苦闘するHard fought. All right, really interesting.
なつこ: Right.
Peter: Okay. Next one we have is really interesting too. I will be very honest. I’ve been in Japan a long time and I have not come across this one or I probably have but I just didn’t catch it.
なつこ: Yeah it’s – maybe it’s – maybe because the meaning is so special.
Peter: I think it will become clear but so basically what you are saying is I never had that kind of connection with somebody.
なつこ: Not necessarily but…
Peter: It’s a great expression. Okay let’s have it.
なつこ: 以心伝心
Peter: Heart to heart communication, thought transference and can we also say like telepathy?
なつこ: Yes. Something near.
Peter: I’ve been and it’s funny. Well let’s just break it down and then we will kind of ramble on about this but お願いします
なつこ: (slow) いしんでんしん (natural speed)以心伝心
Peter: Let’s take a look at this phrase character by character. First one,
なつこ: 以
Peter: By means of.
なつこ: 心
Peter: Heart.
なつこ: 伝
Peter: Transmit.
なつこ: 心
Peter: Heart. By means of heart, transmit heart. Now before we kind of analyze this further, in Japanese, Natsuko san
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: The character heart doesn’t – well in the western sense not only means heart but also
なつこ: Mind.
Peter: So if we swap out heart for mind and repeat the phrase, it’s by means of mind, transmit mind.
なつこ: Right.
Peter: And that makes a lot more sense like telepathy.
なつこ: Yes it’s like conveying yourself without saying anything.
Peter: You know, I – it’s funny. I’ve been here for as I said about 10 years and I’ve been looking for this expression for so long.
なつこ: Really?
Peter: Because a lot of times I have that – I do have that connection Natsuko san with people.
なつこ: I believe, I believe.
Peter: And I always try to convey the concept and we always kind of wind up making it into a katakana word of course.
なつこ: Oh I see.
Peter: The word of course is
なつこ: Telepathy.
Peter: But it kind of feels like it’s – like I was cheating but this expression kind of is what I want to say.
なつこ: Right.
Peter: And it sounds so much more sophisticated.
なつこ: Exactly.
Peter: Can we have a sample sentence?
なつこ: 小学校以来の友人とは以心伝心の仲だ
Peter: My friends in elementary school is somebody who I communicate without speaking. Natsuko san, do you have this type of friend?
なつこ: Umm kind of yes. You know, we know each other so much. So we can kind of figure out what the other one is feeling or thinking.
Peter: I know exactly what you are talking about. The best example I have is, my sister. She had this one friend.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: And they – it was like they shared like one mind.
なつこ: Wow!
Peter: Like there will be a group and sometimes my sister like would have a sleepover. So there will be about you know 10 girls.
なつこ: Wow!
Peter: And everyone will be talking but it was like the two of them were laughing hysterically and everyone couldn’t figure out what they were laughing at or like it wasn’t that funny but – and they definitely had 以心伝心
なつこ: Right.
Peter: Now this one, how do we use this? Is it a pseudo-verb or we use it with the copula des or…
なつこ: You don’t usually use this word as suru verb but sometimes it’s used like an adjective like in the sample sentence 以心伝心の仲. Relationship that you don’t need any verbal communication. Well…
Peter: 以心伝心の友達 Can I say that too instead of 仲の友達
なつこ: Yeah I think so.
Peter: And maybe something like 以心伝心の関係
なつこ: Yes or 友達とは以心伝心だ
Peter: And in that case, we would be using with the copula. So you know, I speak without words with my friend or friends would speak without words 良いなあ
なつこ: Umm…
Peter: That’s really nice.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: Okay so these are two phrases, two expressions that I think if you use, you are going to surprise some people.
なつこ: Definitely surprise. I’d be surprised.
Peter: And what we want to do here is, we want you to you know get better acquainted with kanji, build up some really great expressions.
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: And at the same time kind of better understand Japanese or eastern way of thinking.
なつこ: Right.


Peter: So this is I think a pretty cool lesson. Okay that is going to do for today. Now inside the PDF, we have a much more detailed explanation you can see all the characters which is probably pretty important.
なつこ: Right.
Peter: And of course, if you have any questions, comments or feedback, just stop by and be sure to leave us a comment. All right, that is going to do for today.
なつこ: それじゃあまた今度


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