Thursday, March 5, 2009

Word of the Day: Tamamushiiro

Here's a good word today that my supervisor used today to describe the multiple interpretations 解釈 (かいしゃく)of a phrase in a joint statement that was being drafted in conjunction with a foreign government. Because the phrase was so vague that it had 2 meanings that were polar opposites, he said that it was being left in to avoid confrontation on the issue. The word he used was 玉虫色 【たまむしいろ】 , which literally means "iridescent" (or "the color of a jewel beetle") but figuratively means something like "chameleonic" or "open to multiple interpretations."

Why they would choose to leave in a phrase that allows for a meaning that they know is directly contrary to the meaning intended by the other side, invariably setting up embarrassment and/or annoyance down the road when the other side realizes that what they understood to be the case is in fact not the case, is an issue that is beyond my abilities to explain.

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