Saturday, November 22, 2008

Headline of the Day: Appeal of Negligence Ruling

Here's a good one:

東京・足立区の女性監禁殺人:「捜査怠慢」訴訟 都が控訴

Mainichi translates this as: "Tokyo metropolitan gov't appeals ruling of police negligence in murder case." A few points struck me as interesting:

(1) It was apparently a murder in which the woman had been confined:

監禁 【かんきん】 (n,vs) confinement + 殺人 【さつじん】 (n) murder

(2) The negligence specifically relates to the course of the investigation:

捜査 【そうさ】 (n,vs) search (esp. in criminal investigations); investigation + 怠慢 【たいまん】 (adj-na,n) negligence; procrastination; carelessness

(First paragraph: "The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has filed an appeal against a court ruling that ordered it to pay 20 million yen to the bereaved parents of a murdered woman on the grounds that police were negligent in investigating the case.")

On a side note, "deriliction of duty" is 職務怠慢 【しょくむたいまん】.

(3) The Japanese headline uses the word 訴訟 【そしょう】 (n,vs) "litigation; lawsuit" to modify the term "investigatory negligence," rather than the word for decision:

判決 【はんけつ】 (n,vs) judicial decision; judgement; judgment; sentence; decree.

I find this a bit odd; I wonder whether 訴訟 can be used more broadly to indicate the court's ruling, outcome of litigation, etc. Can anyone clarify?

(4) It's a "koso," or initial appeal to a higher court, 控訴 【こうそ】, rather than a 上訴 【じょうそ】 (n,vs) , final appeal. Very handy distinction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Phrase of the Day: 起死回生

I was in bed all day today, sick from food poisoning (食中毒 【しょくちゅうどく】). It couldn't have come at a worse time because I'm just starting this Administrative Training course on Japan-China relations.

The good thing, though, is that it appears the worst is over, so I feel like 起死回生 【きしかいせい】 (n) revival of the dead; recovering from a hopeless situation; resuscitation. Literally: Wake from death and return to life. Apparently, this one is used to mean "to come out of a desperate situation and make a complete return in one sudden burst" so probably not exactly what I mean, but close enough!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Phrase of the Day: 五里霧中

Today I started administrative training 行政研修【ぎょうせいけんしゅう】、and it was quite an experience. Government workers from lots of different ministries come together for two weeks to participate in seminars centered around one major topic. This round is on Japan-China relations, so I'm hoping to get a lot of useful information from it. That is, if I can focus long enough to absorb all the Japanese that's being hurled at me all day. For the first 30 min. of the first lecture, I wasn' t able to follow what the speaker was talking about at all, so I guess you could say I was:

五里霧中 【ごりむちゅう】 (n) totally at a loss; lose one's bearings; in a maze; in a fog; all at sea; up in the air; mystified; bewildered

I like that expression because it very evocative; it literally means "Five li (Chinese distance measure) in the fog."

The good thing was that as the day went along, I was grasping more and more of what was being discussed, so I guess you could say I was only 3 li into the fog. Tomorrow I'm shooting for only one!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Headline of the Day: 少年事件の調査報告書、簡潔に…裁判員制度で指針

Here's an interesting headline in today's Yomiuri Shimbun:


= "Investigative Report on Juvenile Cases: Simplified Guidance for the Lay Juror System"

Here's the breakdown:

少年 【しょうねん】 (n) boys; juveniles
事件 【じけん】 (n) event; affair; incident; case; plot; trouble; scandal
調査報告書 【ちょうさほうこくちょ】 reconnaissance report; investigative report
簡潔 【かんけつ】 (adj-na,n) brevity; conciseness; simplicity
裁判員制度 【さいばんいんせいど】 (n) citizen judge system; lay judge system; quasi-jury system
指針 【ししん】 (n) compass needle (cursor); guideline; pointer

Here's some interesting information I found on-line about juvenile cases in the Japanese justice system:

"When a minor is accused of a serious crime, the family court can send him or her to the district public prosecutor's office to be charged and tried as an adult. In those cases, the trial is open to the public. Children under 14 cannot be charged with violating the Penal Code 刑法 【けいほう】. However, depending on the seriousness of the offense, a juvenile court can handle it as a special case and decide what sort of correction the child should go through."

(I'm guessing that the last line suggests that Juvenile Court judges have some limited power to impose quasi-criminal penalties...but the scope of such authority, if it exists, is unclear to me.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rebuttable Presumption 反証可能な推定

I've been looking for a good way to express "rebuttable presumption" in Japanese and, with a little help from my officemate, I think I've got a good one that's going on the "to memorize" list.

I had initially translated "to create a rebuttable presumption" as

h 反論できる推定を生じる = (lit. "to create a presumption that can be rebutted").

I chose "反論" because that was the suru verb I had learned for "rebuttal." I also chose "推定" instead of "予断" because it seemed that, although both can mean "presumption," the latter seemed less common in the provisions in various treaties I looked at, and the definition on-line also gave me pause: 予断 【よだん】 (n,vs) guessing; prediction; conclusion.

HOWEVER, my coworker told me that "反論" is waaay too casual to be used in that phrase. This really surprised me, given the seemingly straightforward definition:

反論 【はんろん】 (n,vs) objection; refutation; rebuttal

(I guess it's true what they say about the straitlaced "quiet neighbor" types being the ones you have to be careful of...)

Still, I trust her sense and she recommended the following instead:

n 反証可能な推定を生じる = to create a refutable presumption (Works for me!)

反証 【はんしょう】 (n,vs) prove to the contrary; disprove; counter-evidence; refute
推定 【すいてい】 (n,vs) presumption; assumption; estimation
生じる 【しょうじる】 (v1,vi) to produce; to yield; to result from; to arise; to be generated

(In the treaty provisions I saw, the word 生ずる -- 【しょうずる】 (vz,vi) to cause; to arise; to be generated -- was used, but who am I to quibble? 生ずる seems too formal.)

e I was also glad to discover a new word in looking for the right one:

実証 【じっしょう】 (n,vs) actual, demonstrated proof

Good one!

Headline of the Day: 極めて優勢

In the office today, someone turned on the TV just as NHK was announcing that Senator Obama had just secured victory in the presidential election. I leapt to my feet and saw that everyone stopped working (unusual!) to take in the news. I'm the only American in the office, and everyone knows I've been rooting (応援【おうえん】) for Sen. Obama, so when everyone looked over at me, I gave a big victory sign and everyone seemed to get a kick out of that. It's the first time I've been elated 調子に乗る 【ちょうしにのる】 about something in a looooong time, so even though it was a bit bizarre not being able to experience it back home, it was still a good moment.

It seems like a lot of newspaper headlines and TV news leaders are using the word 極めて 【きわめて】 to describe the victory. The word is defined as "exceedingly; extremely" but in this sense it can be translated as "decisive(ly)," as in the following example:

米大統領選 オバマ氏極めて優勢

"Presidential Election in the United States: Senator Obama's Decisive Predominance"

Breaking it down:

米 【べい】 (pref) American (in forming compound words); America
大統領選 【だいとうりょうせん】 (n) presidential election
極めて 【きわめて】 (adv) exceedingly; extremely
優勢 【ゆうせい】 (adj-na,n) superiority; superior power; predominance; preponderance

I've seen other headlines that pair 極めて with the following:

勝利 【しょうり】 (n,vs) victory; triumph; conquest; success; win
優位 【ゆうい】 (adj-na,n) predominance; ascendancy; superiority

Any way you say it, it's a good word...and good news (to me, at least).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Four-Character Phrase: 狂喜乱舞

I learned this one today in an article about celebrations in India when it rains after a long dryspell. I think it's apt for how I'm going to feel when Obama gets elected...

狂喜乱舞 【きょうきらんぶ】 (n,vs) boisterous dance; dancing wildly with joy (lit. "crazed + joy + wild + dance")

Monday, November 3, 2008

OPEN UP! aku/akeru (開く & 開ける) vs. aku/akeru (空く & 空ける) vs. hiraku/hirakeru (開く & 開ける)

Someone recently asked about the difference between aku and hiraku, so here's my take on it, in case anyone else might find it useful (and if anyone finds any inaccuracies, please let me know):

Aku/hiraku are intransitive verbs for "to open" using the same kanji. The transitive counterparts are akeru/hirakeru.

I. AKU/AKERU (開く & 開ける)

I think of aku/akeru (開く & 開ける) as referring to "making an opening" so there's a resulting hole or space. They are also used metaphorically for time expressions. So we can use it for doors, windows, bottles, cans, bags, boxes, eyes, mouths, time, etc.:

"mise ga aite-iru" = the store is open
"mise ga 9-ji ni akeru" = the store opens at 9:00
"mise o akete-iru" = (someone) is opening the store
"mado o aketara," = if you open the window,...
"kabe ni ana o aketa" = he made a hole in the wall
"doa ga aite-iru" = the door is open/ajar
"aita kuchi" = "open-mouthed" "agog"
"bin ga akanai" = I can't open the bottle
"me ga aite-inai" = his eyes are not open
"chakku ga aite-iru" = your fly is open

II. AKU/AKERU (空く & 空ける)

You can also use "aku/akeru" to mean "open" in the sense of vacant/free, but it's a different kanji, namely 空く & 空ける:

"kono seki ga aite-imasu ka?" = is this seat free?
"aite-inai heya" = an occupied room
"heya ga kanzen aite-imasen" = fully booked (hotel)
"ashita aite-imasu ka?" = are you free tomorrow?


In contrast, hiraku/hirakeru (開く & 開ける) is more like "to open up" so it's used for things with moving parts like umbrellas, and "to open out/wide/apart" in the sense of spreading things so for books, flowers, hands, (erm) legs, gates, shutters, collars. It's also used metaphorically for opening up your mind/heart/eyes. I've also noticed it being used for opening up computer files.

"mise o hiraku" = to open up (start) a business (cf. aku/akeru = to open for business)
"sensu o hiraku" = to open/unfold a fan
"kasa o hiraku" = to open an umbrella
"tsutsumi o hiraku to" = when you open the wrapping/parcel
"kyoukasho no 3 peeji o hiraite kudasai" = pls open to page 3 in your textbook
"mon wa hirakanai" = the gate won't open
"ashi o hiraite kudasai" = please spread your legs
"kaigi/tenrankai o hiraku" = to hold a meeting/exhibition"
"yatto kokoro o hiraite-imasu" = she's finally opening up to us
"shiten o hiraku tsumori desu" = they plan on opening up a branch office
"fairu o hiraku" = to open up a file
"sakura issei ni ga haita" = the cherries bloomed all at once

Did I miss/misstate anything?