● Back Numbers 005〜008 


No. 005  Rare body parts 

Today I was doing some dictionary work, and came across quite a number of what may be called "rare body parts". Actually, I did not know the Japanese equivalents of some of these parts, so I made a point of learning them.

One way of making one's language more impressive is to use words that are rather rare, and which the average learner is not likely to know. With this in mind, I have made the list below. Try not only to memorize the English words, but also the sentences.

脳天  I hit the man on the crown of his head.
 The whorl of hair on the top of my head just won't stay down.
項(うなじ)  The nape of her neck has a lovely shape.
蟀谷(こめかみ) I felt a throbbing in my left temple.
鼻腔(びこう) She has hair growing out of her nostrils.
喉仏(のどぼとけ) His Adam's apple is very large.
耳朶(みみたぶ) He tugged at as his earlobe as he spoke.
脇の下 She should shave her armpits.
脇腹 I have a pain in my side.
 The man hit me in the pit of my stomach.
 I have a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach.
上腕 I got a bad cut on my upper arm.
前腕 Her forearms are very muscular.
腿(もも)の付け根 I have a strange pain in the groin.
脹ら脛(ふくらはぎ) I am trying to strengthen my calf muscles.
脛(すね) The little boy kicked me on the shin.
  You have a black-and-blue on the instep of your left foot.
土踏まず The arches of my feet are very high.

● Words & Phrases ●
  • come across
  • quite a number of
  • what may be called
    いわゆる〜といったもの: what is called(いわゆる〜)の婉曲的な形
  • equivalents of
  • make a point of -ing
  • One way of -ing is to do
  • with 〜 in mind
  • stay down
  • lovely 美しい
  • a throbbing
  • have ... -ing
  • tug at
  • nasty feeling 嫌な感じ
  • 2番目のin the pit of my stomachは「心底」というイディオム
  • a bad cut ひどい切り傷
  • a strange pain
  • strengthen 強化する
  • black-and-blue 青あざ

(帝京大学教授 Christopher Barnard)


 「迎えに行く/来る」を"pick up"と言うことは、ご存知の方も多いでしょう。しかし、さらにその場合、どんな乗り物を使うのかは、どう言えばいいのでしょう?

No. 006  He picked me up at the airport. 

If I said to you, "Please pick me up at the airport", I would be rather disappointed if you came by bus or train, and then expected me to take the bus or train back home with you. The verb "pick up" in this sense means "come and meet me in a car (and take me home)".

Does it cover only a private car, or would it also include a taxi? I have asked various native speakers, and have had different answers, so we can conclude that "pick me up" perhaps covers the taxi situation.

In Japanese, one could say, バスで空港へ迎えに行きます. "Pick up" would not cover this situation. Probably we would say something like this:

I will take the bus (train) to the airport, and meet you there .
I will go to the airport by bus (train), and then we can go back together.

It would be a mistake to say something like this (which is a direct translation from the Japanese):

× I will meet you at the airport by bus.

● Words & Phrases ●
  • would be disappointed if ...
  • expect ... to do
  • take 〜 back home
  • in this sense
  • meet
  • conclude that ...

(帝京大学教授 Christopher Barnard)



No. 007  Talking about colours 

We live in a world of fashion. It is only natural that we should be able to talk about the many colours we see around us. Here are some different ways that we can talk about colours in detail:

1) Use "dark" or "light": dark blue, light green
2) Add a noun (often a fruit or flower) before the colour: strawberry red, carnation pink, salmon pink, banana yellow, lemon yellow, lime green, sea green, sky blue, midnight blue, eggplant purple, slate grey, etc., etc., etc.
3) Add an adjective ending on "-y" that is based on a (liquid) substance: creamy white, milky white, buttery yellow, watery blue, chocolaty brown, etc.
4) Use the pattern "colour + ish + colour": reddish orange, reddish brown, yellowish orange, bluish green, greenish blue, bluish purple, etc.

Since people may well describe the same colour in different ways, when talking about them, we tend to be rather vague, by saying things like this:

It is sort of salmon pink.
It is kind of milky white.
It is more or less sea green.
You could call it reddish brown, or perhaps brownish red.

These sentences using "sort/kind of", "more or less", etc., are examples of vague language. Mastering vague language will help your English to sound much more natural. I will take up the question of vague language in the next Column.

● Words & Phrases ●
  • It is only natural that ... (should) ...
  • in detail 詳細に
  • liquid 液体
  • substance 物質
  • may well do
  • tend to do
  • vague 曖昧な
  • sort [kind] of いくらか、多少
  • more or less だいたい
  • could call
  • perhaps ひょっとしたら

(帝京大学教授 Christopher Barnard)



No. 008  Vague language

In the last Column, I said that vague language will help your English to sound more natural.

There are two main reasons for this. First, vague language is a very natural part of our daily language use. For example, in your daily Japanese, you often say things like: のようなもの, 何となく, だいたい, 〜っぽい, 〜的な, etc.

However, in "formal" language learning, such as at school, much of this vague language tends to be overlooked or ignored. Thus, students may learn "The car is red". But they are very unlikely to learn "The car is kind of red", or "The colour was somewhere between green and blue".

Generally, learners who master vague language do so in natural situations (e.g., living abroad), or because they have made a special effort to do so.

Second, since a learner of a foreign language does not know that language perfectly, it is only natural that much of what she says is less than 100% exact or accurate.

Instead of looking for the English word that is the exact equivalent to a Japanese word, you can use vague language to convey your basic meaning. Here are some examples of vague language used to convey the general meaning of some Japanese words:

螺旋階段 They are steps that are sort of like a corkscrew.
なめくじ It's maybe a kind of snail, but has no shell.
藤色 It's pretty much the same as purple, or perhaps violet.
わさび It's more or less the same as horseradish.

I suggest that you try to think of some different Japanese words and expressions, and see if you can explain them using vague language.

● Words & Phrases ●
  • formal 正式な
  • overlook 見過ごす
  • be unlikely to do
  • somewhere
  • make an effort to do
  • equivalent to
  • convey
  • I suggest (that) ...
  • think of 〜を思いつく
  • see if ...

(帝京大学教授 Christopher Barnard)


Copyright (C) Christopher Barnard & Place, Inc. All rights reserved.