Saturday, October 22, 2011


A while ago, I wrote this post right here that you can click and watch with your eyes:

When I was looking at the dictionary I found back then two "tebura"s. One which had the "bura" part in katakana (meaning it probably came from English or some other non Japanese language) and the other which had the "bura" part in hiragana (meaning it originated in a Japanese word). At the time I foolishly dismissed this as a dictionary duplication thingy. Foolishly.

But now thanks to a nice reader, I know better!
So let's break it down, shall we?

Japanese: 手ブラ
Reading: te-bura
Meaning: bra-less, using only one's hands to cover breasts.
Literally: hand bra.

Japanese: 手ぶら
Reading: te-bura
Meaning: empty-handed
Literally: hand empty

And now I'll quote the email I got to prevent any further confusion from me...

「I noticed an inaccuracy in your explanation of 手ぶら.
It comes from 手ぶらっと (teburatto) which means "with your hands hanging limply (empty)." it has a social connotation of not bringing a gift or souvenir (like when you've gone on a trip).

The phrase predates the brassiere in japan, for one, and is used by men and women. it has nothing to do with "being stripped bare" and less to do with having nothing but the shirt on your back than you would think. it means literally "empty-handed" - carrying nothing, but the connotation is not one of poverty but of circumstance or even lacking social graces.

手ぶら is doubly complicated by the fact that the gravure and AV industries have co-opted the homophone 手ブラ to literally mean "hand bra," like when a model poses with only her hands covering her breasts. however, these are different words with different meanings and distinct etymologies. 」

OK! So we got two words in the price of one pronunciation,!
Now everything is clear!

Thank you, mystery reader! :P

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bell Peppers and Fashion Models

There is a word I know for quite some time now.

Japanese: ピーマン
Reading: piiman
Meaning: bell pepper, green pepper

Now, I like this word because I have some Japanese/English jokes about it (since in English is sound like a pee man), and now I just got another reason to like it!

It turns out that there is a slang meaning of the word in Japanese. It is used to refer to people who look good on the outside but have no real content or personality...I would generalize here and say it could describe for instance a fashion model or a not that talented actress or actor.

You can imagine the relation to a bell pepper :P
Me like!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wheels, Lightbulbs and Poo

OK, so here is a nice one that took me several months to collect...

You know the expression in English, a third wheel? or is it a fifth wheel? well, any unnecessary wheel. So I learned a few month ago that in Chinese the same person is called a "light-bulb", and that is because when you want some privacy with someone, some intimate privacy with that special someone, than a light emitting glass device is not exactly what you want on your side...
That was cool, but it was not Japanese. Yesterday I learnt the same expression but this time, the Japanese version of it.

Japanese: 金魚の糞
Reading: kingyo no fun
Meaning: sort of the same as a third/fifth wheel in English.
Literally: goldfish droppings

Say what?!
Well, apparently when a goldfish poos, his poo is dangling around behind him for quite some time. So this expression means a person who tags along; hanger-on; a person who follows someone around like a shadow; clingy person.

So there, that's an image for you!