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12 May 2016 @ 12:53 pm
A learning exchange  
Something interesting that's come up in the course of reading 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ is that both Aya-sensei and I each have our area of expertise to share. She obviously speaks Japanese natively, but she's nisei--she was raised in America, went to American schools, and so on. She has relatives in Japan and lived in Tokyo for several years, but has spent most of her life here. That means that, for example, she has no experience with the Japanese education system.

This came up with the sentence:
「なんか緊張感がないよな」ぼくは言った。「夏休みだというのに、ちっとも勉強に身が入らない」
Which I would translate as:
"Ahh, I'm not feeling pressured at all," I said. "Even though it's summer vacation, I don't have any energy for studying."
So of course if you think of the American education system, that makes no sense. "Even though"? Shouldn't that be "because"?

Well, no, because the Japanese school year begins in April and summer vacation comes during the first semester. Students have to go to club activities and often get homework assignments they have to finish during their vacations. This gives context to the next line, where Aki tells Sakutarō that he'll be fine even if he doesn't try (literally that he's in the 安全圏, a word that means "buffer zone" but which Aya-sensei told me is slang for people who will pass their exams no matter what they do).

It's like when I told Aya-sensei what a 大和撫子 (Yamato nadeshiko) is, which gave her a word for this concept that crops up again and again in Japanese entertainment. It's minor, but it's nice that things aren't just one way.
 
 
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