Words you might like to know

Over the years my bookshelf has become more and more “aspirational”. Books have accumulated and remained untroubled by human hands. Tomes only occasionally perturbed by a light dusting. Spines pristine.

It didn’t use to be that way. When I was younger my financial means were always outstripped by my free time. Like most young people I had all the time in the world and none of the resources (or sense) to make full use of it. So, if a book made it onto my bookshelf, it would almost certainly be read in due course. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that. Unless it was Ulysses. That’s just for the stability of the bookcase. If I took it off the shelf for too long the structural integrity of the Ikea unit would be called into question.

Recently though, my family have allowed me the time to indulge in a good book or two by dutifully nodding off by ten each night. As an unrepentant night owl, I have few socially acceptable ways to spend the hours between ten and one that won’t leave me unable to get the kids ready for school in the morning, and so back to being a bookworm I must go.

This evening I enjoyed a short three-page essay by Haruki Murakami titled 真っ白な嘘 (mashiro na uso – White Lies) . I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it was in the original Japanese. As the book had furigana, a CD attached, and translation notes it wasn’t such hard going. Here are some words from the essay that students of Japanese/English might enjoy learning:

でたらめ – nonsense

でっち上げ – fabrication, hoax

でまかせ – speaking without thinking

世間を惑わせる人 – people who disturb the public order

例によって – as usual, as is one’s habit, as per usual, just like always

It was a playful and witty little essay. Give it a read. You’ll enjoy it. I wouldn’t bother writing this otherwise.

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