JOK Notebook

Indolent Indulgences

It's a warm day here, and although I have the caffeine jitters, I also have the sense that it's the time of year when everyone wants to go more slowly. Indolence is the name of the game. For today, then, I'll focus on fun, which is to say Quick Quizzes.

Quiz 1

What could the following term mean:

徐波睡眠 (じょはすいみん)     slow + waves + sleep (last 2 kanji)

a. being lulled to sleep by ocean waves
b. dulled thinking right before falling asleep
c. the unimaginative dreams of dullards
d. non-REM sleep

I'll block the answer with a preview of the newest essay:

d. 徐波睡眠 (じょはすいみん: slow + waves + sleep (last 2 kanji)) means "non-REM sleep." The second kanji, 波, actually represents "brain waves" in this context! Oh!

Quiz 2

What do you think the following term could mean:

幽霊部員 (ゆうれいぶいん)     ghost (1st 2 kanji) + member (last 2 kanji)

a. a member of the world's largest club (that is, the dead)
b. club member who does not participate in the club's activities
c. member of a group that regularly does seances
d. group of very old people

I'll block the answer with a photo from the latest essay, which as you know is on 秩 (to be in order):

I’m not sure what we’re seeing on this book cover, but it certainly gives the sense of a place where old temples and modern buildings coexist. The book is about the changes that swept through 19th-century East Asia, as the title reflects:

The Changing International Order in Early-Modern East Asia

変容 (へんよう: transformation); 近代 (きんだい: early-modern period); 東アジア (ひがしアジア: East Asia)

The keyword is 国際秩序 (こくさいちつじょ: international order).

b. 幽霊部員 (ゆうれいぶいん: ghost (1st 2 kanji) + member (last 2 kanji)) is a "(school) club member who does not participate in the club's activities." It's a joking term, and the joke was on me when my proofreader used it on Facebook in reference to her husband. On seeing 幽霊 (ゆうれい: ghost), I initially thought he might be dead! Whew!

Quiz 3

In Western literature, two characters are famously associated with sleeping. These Japanese terms might help you recall the characters (though the second clue pertains to Japan, so it's not quite accurate):

a. 眠り姫 (ねむりひめ)

b. 山鼠 or 冬眠鼠 

Who are the two characters? I'll block the answer with a photo of two less famous Western characters, Masala and Chai:

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

a. 眠り姫 (ねむりひめ: sleep + princess) is the Japanese term for Sleeping Beauty, both the character name and the fairytale title. 

b. 山鼠 or 冬眠鼠 (ヤマネ) means "Japanese dormouse, Glirulus japonicus," so I was hoping it would remind you of the Dormouse in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, later made even more famous by Jefferson Airplane's song "White Rabbit." 

Of course, the Dormouse in those contexts was not Japanese. So how is a Western dormouse different from a Japanese one? Well, says Wikipedia, among dormice, only the Japanese dormouse can run at great speed upside down, suspended from branches. All dormice are known for long periods of hibernation. In fact, the English name of the species comes from the French dormeuse (sleeper). Lewis Carroll's Dormouse could barely stay awake. 

As for the Japanese name, people usually use ヤマネ. The kanji terms, in which 鼠 is non-Joyo, break down as follows:

山鼠     mountain + mouse

冬眠鼠     hibernation (1st 2 kanji) + mouse

The term 冬眠 (hibernation) breaks down further as winter + sleep. Isn't that wonderfully, charmingly logical?!

A Sleep Pattern

You may have noticed that 眠 loomed large in both Quizzes 1 and 3. The latter one is part of the forthcoming essay 1842 on 眠 (to sleep, rest), which is chock-full of quizzes, and 徐波睡眠 makes a very brief appearance in the same essay. It is scheduled to come out on July 26. I hope summer indolence doesn't interfere with that plan!

Catch you back here next time!


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