I don’t even like baseball, but I couldn’t help but follow Yu Darvish’s near-perfect game the other night. Thanks to the ESPN app on my phone, I was notified after six perfect innings, and because I live in the south, not far from Houston, FOX Sports Southwest was showing the game. So I was able to watch the eighth and ninth innings live. At some point I posted on Facebook: “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh – Yu.”
As an isolated post this might have looked like I was quoting Yu or something, so immediately underneath it I provided an explanation: “Nobody. Say. Anything.” When the perfect game was destroyed, I added 残念！
Later on, well after that, one of my former students (a kid I taught when he was in second through fifth grades of elementary school!) commented on the post, and I had a chance to use one of my favorite grammar patterns:
He almost threw a perfect game!
The pattern always reminds me of the time when I nearly finished beating a tanuki to death on the rural roads of Fukushima Prefecture. This is such a fundamental misunderstanding of the word ほとんど that it’s almost embarrassing (my continued misuse of the word “tense” is also embarrassing), and to this day always makes me remember that there is no such thing as perfect translation. Those two phrases above are the best ways to express how close Darvish came to perfection, but they don’t equal each other. They are, however, pretty damn good equivalents.