On Flogging (Updated)

Also took the parents to the Yokohama Archives of History. Great exhibits, and I’m hopeless at history, so a refresher is always appreciated. In addition to the regular exhibits, they also had a special exhibit on missionaries. Samuel Robbins Brown, one of the missionaries, also wrote his own Japanese textbook titled:

COLLOQUIAL JAPANESE
OR
CONVERSATIONAL SENTENCES
AND
DIALOGUES
IN
ENGLISH AND JAPANESE

The title went on for two whole pages, and I didn’t bother copying the rest, but it

was
equally disjointed
and
capitalized.

Several example pages were also displayed, one of which included this gem:

247. He deserves a flogging.
Ano okata wa tatakare nasarete mo yoroshiu gozarimasu.
アノ オカタ ハ タタカレ ナ井レテ モ ヨロシウ ゴザリマス。

You’ll have to ask Matt about the accuracy of the Japanese phrase (that seems to be the standard thing to do these days – in the comments), but to me it sounds more like the standard phrase ~てもいいです, where the ~ happens to be a passive keigo verb. For example, 電気を消されてもいいです。Or “I don’t mind if you turn off the lights." In the case of flogging, the sentence would be “I don’t mind if you flog that fellow.” I could see either of these phrases making the translational jump to "Go ahead and flog that fellow/turn off that light," but can it take that last step to “deserve”? This could be some Meiji Era madness I’m totally unprepared to understand. I mean, is 井 really supposed to be floating around in there? If so, cool. If not, Nelson laugh. (My initial theory was that this was some aggressive passive tense action. Like, 電気消されてもいいです. Literally "I don’t mind if the lights are turned off." But that would be just wrong…right?)

247 was followed in short order by these:

252. He is drunk every day.
253. His opinion and yours are the same.

What was going on in Yokohama in the Meiji Era?

Update: Adam found a link to the actual book on archive.orghere. You can get a PDF or text version or just flip through pages. Awesome. Check out Adam’s comment to see the ridiculous full title.

Man, I’ve looked through it just a little bit and found this great explanation: "Hashi, a bridge, is distinguished from hashi, chopsticks, by the suppression of the final i in the last, thus hash’, signifies chopsticks." That’s a really nice explanation. This book is going to be awesome.

More awesomeness as I discover it (page numbers refer to PDF):

Pg 18: "The oral language delights in courteous expressions, and one of the most remarkable features of the polished style of speech is the use of long words, and circumlocutions."

Pg 49-50: "The difference between wa and nga is scarcely translateable, but is to be expressed by the tone of the speaker’s voice, rather than by any corresponding words in English. The native ear at once perceives the difference, and a foreigner can acquire the use of these particles, only by practice and much familiarity with the Japanese usage."

Pg 81: After an extensive introduction, the first sentence in the book? "A bow-knot is easy to untie. Hi-za o-ri ni mu-sz-bu to to-ke ya-sz-u go za-ri-ma-s’." The only reason it’s here is because all the phrases are in alphabetical order, which explains 252 and 253 above. 

4 thoughts on “On Flogging (Updated)

  1. COLLOQUIAL JAPANESE
    OR
    CONVERSATIONAL SENTENCES
    AND
    DIALOGUES
    IN
    ENGLISH AND JAPANESE
    TOGETHER WITH
    AN ENGLISH-JAPANESE INDEX
    TO SERVE AS
    A VOCUBLARY
    AND
    AN INTRODUCTION
    ON THE
    GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE OF THE LANGUAGE
    BY
    REV. S. R. BROWN, A. M.

    In case you wish to read it, the whole book is at archive.org
    http://www.archive.org/details/colloquialjapane00browrich

    Note: the fun begins on page 1 (also known as page 81 on the PDF, due to the 62 pages of introduction).

    Reading pure katakana makes my head hurt.

  2. I would say it is indeed aggressive passive action, given the way he translates all of the other sentences about “He.. (something)” ending in “nasaru.”

    As for the 井, my guess it’s a mistake… 井 is a hentaigana for ゐ, but I’ve never seen it for サ.