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Peter: Peter here.
なつこ: 四字熟語
Peter: Lesson 20. Japanese You Will Have A Hard Time Believing. Natsuko san,
なつこ: Yes.
Peter: Today we have two more great idiomatic phrases.
なつこ: Great.
Peter: Now the first one I really like.
なつこ: Really?
Peter: Again it’s very Japanese.
なつこ: Oh yes right.
Peter: Now before we take a look at the first one, in these lessons, Natsuko san, what do we do?
なつこ: We look at Yojijukugo.
Peter: Which are four character kanji compounds that when taken together form an idiomatic phrase.
なつこ: Uhoo…

Lesson focus

Peter: Okay and the first one.
なつこ: The one Peter likes.
Peter: Natsuko san, what do we have?
なつこ: 年功序列
Peter: Seniority based system, promotion by seniority. Break it down.
なつこ: ねんこうじょれつ 年功序列
Peter: Let’s take a look character by character. The first character is
Peter: Year.
Peter: Achievement.
Peter: Order.
Peter: Row. Year achievement order row.
なつこ: Kind of makes sense.
Peter: Even more I think if we take a look at the two kanji character compounds inside of this four kanji character compound, they will become even clear.
なつこ: You are right.
Peter: What’s the first one?
Peter: Which is seniority or long service.
なつこ: The next one is序列
Peter: Ranking, grading, hierarchy. So we take it altogether
Peter: And it means a rise in salary and job, a rise in salary and job position according with age and length of service in a company.
なつこ: So it’s like achievements made in order of age.
Peter: Okay Natsuko san, can you tell us about the usage.
なつこ: It can be used like年功序列で昇進した
Peter: Which means someone got a promotion because of seniority. Now here it’s used in its adverbial form. Basically we have the phrase
Peter: Followed by
Peter: So the particleで is modified here.
Peter: Now it can also be used as a pronominal modifier. So before a noun and in that case, we need
Peter: Okay can we have a sample?
なつこ: As in年功序列の給与システム
Peter: Seniority based salary system.
なつこ: Kind of typical system in Japanese company – well it used to be, may be not recently.
Peter: Changing a bit. In the past, your salary and everything went according to kind of how long you’ve been with the company.
なつこ: Uhoo…
Peter: Not necessarily based on results. Okay now, this particular Yojijukugo, this term is very well known and it’s often used as a system. You can often find this four character kanji phrase with one more kanji. So it’s actually a five character kanji compound. That is
Peter: And the制 is system. Okay how about couple of sample sentences.
Peter: He was promoted to general manager because he had seniority.
Peter: My Company has a seniority based salary system.
Peter: Recently many companies have been shifting from the seniority system to the merit system. That’s a very good sample sentence. Okay second phrase.
Peter: To be half in doubt, only half believing. Break it down.
なつこ:はんしんはんぎ 半信半疑
Peter: What’s the first character?
Peter: Half.
Peter: Trust.
Peter: Half.
Peter: Doubt. Let’s take a look at the two two character kanji compounds. The first one
Peter: Half believing. Second one.
Peter: Half in doubt. Put it altogether
Peter: Unable to be completely certain that something is true. So it is pretty straightforward.
なつこ: Yes. So you can tell what it means just by looking at the kanji’s.
Peter: You can see them inside the PDF and the kanji close up. This one is a really, really good example of why we are doing this course.
なつこ: Uhoo…
Peter: Okay let’s take a look at the usage. Natsuko san, what do we have?
Peter: To listen to someone only half believing. Now here it’s used in this adverbial form which means we have the phrase followed by
Peter: The particle でand then we have
Peter: The verb. So you notice, a lot of them in the adverbial form are followed byで okay. Now when you want someone to express that someone cannot be completely certain of something, you can say
Peter: Kind of like hmm…
なつこ: Not sure or you can’t tell.
Peter: Let’s have a look at some sample sentences.
Peter: I listened to this big talk only half believing it.
Peter: What do we have next?
Peter: My husband told me that he would be home late because he had to work overtime but I only half believed him.
なつこ: What is she doubting about?
Peter: I don’t know but I am getting the impression that half doubting is not a good thing.
なつこ: Well at least it’s worse than completely believing.
Peter: Natsuko san, it seems like you are a bit半信半疑の性格
なつこ: 半信半疑の性格I think you don’t use it that way.
Peter: How can I say like it seems like you are very skeptical?
なつこ: So when you are talking about someone’s character, you usually don’t use this Yojijukugo.
Peter: And that’s one of the reasons I really love these lessons because I am even learning as we go because I want to say things but勉強になっています
Peter: Okay. Next we have
Peter: He promised me he will pay me the money back but I am half in doubt. Now Natsuko san, the first phrase we looked at today was
Peter: That is a very, very common one right?
なつこ: Yes. You see a lot of them.
Peter: Newspaper, economics, kind of the economic part, finance part of the paper. What about the second one?
なつこ: Well it’s also used very frequently but it’s more emotional word, isn’t it? So maybe you see more in stories or you know, people’s talking.
Peter: Okay Natsuko san有難うございます. Now be sure to stop by and pick up the PDF. Inside the PDF, you can see the characters which is the second part of this series. It can really help you understand the way Japanese people think.
なつこ: Yes.


Peter: All right, that’s going to do for today.


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