JOK Notebook

Four-Legged Beggar

Here's a Quick Quiz for you, one with two parts:

1. Holding something over someone's head usually means "bearing a grudge." What could it mean in a more benevolent context?

2. In the following sentence from essay 1744 on 賓 (guest, visitor), what could ちょうだい mean:

We would like to have some words from our guest.

来賓 (らいひん: guest); 方 (かた: person); 言葉* (ことば: words); したいと思 (したいとおもう: to want to do)

I'll block the answers with a sneak preview of the new essay:

It turns out that the answers are intimately related! Let's start with ちょうだい. The Japanese use this word in three ways: 

1. A kid says ちょうだい to mean “Give it to me.” For that usage, hiragana is preferred: 

Give it to me.

Give me a snack.

おやつ* (snack)

2. The Japanese informally use -ちょうだい as an auxiliary verb meaning “for me,” though -ちょうだい ends the sentence without any inflection. In this case, hiragana is again preferred:

Pass me the salt.
(Lit., Take the salt for me.)

塩 (しお: salt); 取る (とる: to take)

This sentence means the same thing as 塩を取ってくれ or 塩を取ってください.

3. An adult uses ちょうだいする to mean “to be given” in humble language. In this case, people prefer to write the term in kanji (even though it appeared in hiragana in essay 1744). One renders the term in kanji this way:

頂戴 (ちょうだい: being given)     top + to load

Here are two examples (the first of which you've more or less seen):

We’d like your words.
(Lit., We should be given your words.)

I will kill you. 
(Lit., I want your life.)

命 (いのち: life)

The latter statement pops up in period dramas as an abbreviated version of お命を頂戴する. 

Breaking down as top + to load, 頂戴 originally meant “to hold something reverently with both hands over one’s head." That sounds like this:

No, that's Warrior One, and we're not talking about reverently holding a yoga pose! 

Rather, 頂戴 used to look something like what you see at the link. The photo is part of an article in the newspaper Sankei Shimbun and is a 2016 shot of a Shinto ritual in which people show respect to the gods by presenting them with offerings.

In a secular context, people in the service or hotel industries sometimes still hold items this way to show respect to customers (e.g., when delivering goods to them). Unless the item to be delivered is a fluffy pillow, I can't begin to imagine doing that!

Searching for contemporary pictures of 頂戴, I was thrilled to come upon photos of my favorite type of dog, a beagle (ビーグル)! According to the caption, this animal is doing a 頂戴ポーズ! In fact, the photos come from a well-illustrated blog post in which all the dogs are doing this pose.

The blog as a whole has this title:

招き犬 そら太朗
Beckoning Dogs: Sorataro

招き犬 (まねきいぬ: beckoning dog);
そら太朗 (さらたろう: name of the blogger's dog)

The 招き犬 bit is a play on 招き猫 (まねきねこ), the beckoning porcelain cat figurines that have their paws raised.

The post in question has this title:

Championship Series of Dogs' "Give Me" Poses

選手犬 (せんしゅけん: coined term)

Note that 選手犬 is not really a word. Rather, it's a play on 選手権 (せんしゅけん: championship), commonly used as an abbreviation of 選手権大会 (せんしゅけんたいかい) or 選手権試合 (せんしゅけんじあい), both meaning "title match; championship series."

All the dogs in the post are pretty cute, but I'm dying to know what it says about the beagle. Here are the captions I found:

To cap it off, Bagel-kun, a three-year-old beagle, is doing the "Give Me" pose.

最後を飾る (さいごをかざる: to cap off); -才 (-さい: years old); ベーグル (bagel); -君 (-くん: suffix for boys' names

(Oh, I've known of two beagles named Bagel!)

The next bit doesn't contain Japanese quotation marks in the blog, but I'll add them for clarity:

With an “I’ll-kindly-shake-hands-with-you-so-gimme-a-treat” kind of serious look on his face, he strikes a stylish "give me" pose.

握手 (あくしゅ: handshake); -的 (-てき: -ish); 真剣 (しんけん: serious); 眼差し (まなざし: look); ポーズを決める (ポーズをきめる: to do a pose successfully)

The やっからさぁ comes from this construction:

-やる (aux. verb indicating that the action benefits the person one is talking to) + から (so, therefore) + さ (sentence-ending particle for attracting attention)

The さ has no concrete meaning here, so we can ignore it in the translation.

The やるからさ has turned into やっからさぁ.

As for the よこしな, that's the same as よこしなさい, the imperative form of よこす (to give me). 

Both やっからさぁ and よこしな sound rather arrogant. 

Here are the next bits:

Please, please give me a treat!

どうか (please); 一つ (ひとつ: one)

He barrages me with handshakes as if I were a politician or a pop star and finally holds out both paws.

まるで (just like); 政治家 (せいじか: politician); アイドル (young star; idol); 握手攻め (あくしゅぜめ: having to shake hands with scads of people in a row); 最後 (さいご: last); 両手 (りょうて: (with) both hands); 差し出す (さしだす: to hold out)

When he's as enthusiastic as this, there’s nothing I can do but give him a treat!

こんなに (in this way); 積極的 (せっきょくてき: positive); くる (来る: to come, shown here in its passive voice to mean "to approach"); あげる (to give); わけにはまいりません (there's no way one can, stated in humble language)

They say it's hard to keep a beagle thin, and now I think I can see why! Who could refuse an animal like that?!

Have a great weekend!


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