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

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