71 - Killing Your Own Chickens, Part I

I asked Rei to help me find some interesting articles for these lessons.

She sent me to this blog post (← Warning: contains graphic images).

Initially, I thought, I can't use this!

It has pictures of people killing chickens!

But then I got to reading a bit, and I think maybe it is a worthwhile article to explore.

❈ ❈ Intro Note ❈ ❈

If you're a higher-level learner of Japanese, then I think it's an interesting article to read from start to finish.

However, it will be a bit too difficult for many/most.

I can't break down every sentence (as badly as I want to), so I'll just pick out a few from the article...

Incomprehensible Photo Announcement!

( ↑ The outskirts of Otaru, in Hokkaido. ↑ )

Words and grammar can be kind of tiring, yeah?

So I've inserted a bunch of cool photos from Japan.

And no--they have no relation to the words and grammar showing up.

But maybe they will make you want to explore this country a bit more, yeah??

Wanna come to my... "Life Workshop?"

( ↑ 猿島(さるしま), "Monkey Island," near Kanagawa... which, sadly, has no monkeys. I did, however, see some cosplayers taking sweet photos. ↑ )

So the title of this article is:

「いのち の ワークショップ」 で 「にわとり を さばいて」 おいしく いただきました。
As part of our "Life Workshop," I "processed a chicken" and ate it.
Literally: "life + の + workshop + で + chicken + を + prepared / processed / judged + deliciously + received."

What in the world is going on in this sentence?

Let's separate it into three sentences:

「いのち の ワークショップ」 で 
As part of our "Life Workshop"
Literally: "life + の + workshop + で"

What's a "life workshop?"

( ↑ Cherry blossoms, somewhere in Tokyo. ↑ )

Well, in the actual article, there was a link to this page, which includes the following phrase:

いのち の ワークショップ と は
The Meaning of "Life Workshop"
Literally: "life + の + workshop + とは"

When you put とは after a noun, it basically means, "the meaning of NOUN."

However, it is actually an abbreviation of a question.

Someone might say:

いのち の ワークショップ とは どういう いみ です か。
What is the meaning of "Life Workshop?"
Literally: "life + の + workshop + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."
Note: See how the Engllish version has quotation marks, but the Japanese doesn't? I could have included quotations around part of it, writing 「いのちのワークショップ」, but I don't actually need to, because と is acting as a "quote marker," so to speak.

❈ ❈ Formula City! ❈ ❈
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

( ↑ The middle of Otaru, in Hokkaido. ↑ )

This type of question is extremely common:

A とはどういう意味ですか。
A とは どういう いみ です か。
What does "A" mean?
Literally: "A + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."

↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
❈ ❈ Formula City! ❈ ❈

Looking for the exact phrase とはどういう意味ですか will bring up over half a million results in Google:

In those examples, A is:


deja vu
Note: This is usually spelled デジャヴ.

unreasonable; irrational

a splendid place (to live)
Note: Looking at the article brought up in the results, this seems to be a word with some pretty complicated nuances... I'd never heard it before.

つうきんひ が ひかぜい
commuting expenses are tax exempt
Literally: "commuting (to work) + cost/expense + tax exemption."

So this means that the article titles are:

( ↑ One of Tokyo's smaller trains. ↑ )

イノベーション とは、 どういう いみ です か?
What does "イノベーション (innovation)" mean?
Literally: "innovation + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."

( ↑ Cherry blossoms in Nakameguro, Tokyo. ↑

「デジャヴ」 とは どういう いみ です か?
What does "デジャヴ (deja vu)" mean?
Literally: "deja vu + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."
Note: I fixed the spelling of デジャブ, making it デジャヴ.

( ↑ The outskirts of Otaru, in Hokkaido. ↑ )

りふじん とは どういう いみ です か?
What does "理不尽 (unreasonable; irrational)" mean?
Literally: "unreasonable + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."

( ↑ A path that goes all the way from Shimokitazawa to Nakameguro. One of my favorite walks in Tokyo. ↑ )

まほろば とは、 どういう いみ です か?
What does "まほろば (splendid place [to live])" mean?
Literally: "splendid place (to live) + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."

( ↑ Walking down to the subway platform at a station in Tokyo. ↑ )

つうきんひ が ひかぜい とは どういう いみ です か?
What does "通勤費が非課税 (commuting expenses are tax exempt)" mean?
Literally: "commuting expenses + が + tax exemption + とは + what kind of + meaning + is + か."
Note: This shows how we can also use full phrases before とは.

とは Hack #1

( ↑ This violent old man lives in Sapporo Station, in Hokkaido. ↑ )

Cut off ~どういう意味ですか(どういう いみ です か)for article titles.

This is such a common formula that people know what it means without the "what is the meaning of?" attached to it.

You see this on a lot of companies' about pages on their sites.

For example, Costco's Japanese about page says:

What is Costco?
Literally: "Costco + とは?"

とは Hack #2

( ↑ Hokkaido University, in Sapporo. ↑ )

Use って instead of とは.

This will sound less stiff and formal.

For example:

「ディスる」 って どういう いみ です か?
What does ディスる (to dis) mean?
Literally: "to dis + って + what kind of + meaning + is + か?"
Note: Yes, the Katakana English "to dis someone" does exist in Japanese, and this is a real webpage.

The first time I heard Rei say ディスられた, "I got dissed," I... well, I was speechless.

Japanese slang of English slang... that's about as slang as it gets, right? I never imagined I would hear about someone "getting dissed" in passive Japanese.

とは Hack #3

( ↑ Tokyo, during cherry blossoms. One of those really famous spots... I forget which one. ↑ )

You can also drop ですか in the casual って versions:

シュール って どういう いみ?
What does シュール (surreal) mean?
Literally: "surreal + って + what kind of + meaning + is + か?"
Note: Again, this is a real webpage.

Actually, let's kill chickens tomorrow.

This lesson is starting to get pretty long... let's talk about the chicken article tomorrow, yeah?

You might want to try going through the article on your own and see how much you can get. Watch out for those graphic images, though.

Consider it prep for the next lesson ^_^.

Or just go eat a cookie and lie out in the sun.

Yeah, that might be a lot more fun...

Bonus Phrases

さるしま って しま しってる?
Do you know the island called Monkey Island?"
Note:Monkey Island" is a tiny island near Yokosuka. Sadly, there are no monkeys. It's still pretty cool, though.

I got dissed.

Complete and Continue