Parlez-vous français?

Bonjour! Comment ça va? Je m'appelle Johnny. Parlez-vous français? Qui? Que signifie Bigot? Whew. I think I have exhausted all the French I know. People have long associated the French language as being romantic, fashionable and for intellectuals. It seems that in Japan it is no exception. A number of food companies market their products with a French touch and a lot of shops use French names, including this French bakery. However, what is accepted in one language may not be the case in another as is the case here.

Here are some synonyms for the word 'bigot' in English: racist, chauvinist, zealot, extremist, super-patriot. Hmm, I wonder if people would come and study at Bigot English school. So the next time your boss tells you to come up with a good name for a product or shop be sure to double or even triple check the meaning of a foreign word.

And my walking adventures in Tokyo continue.... au revoir!

Useful vocabulary
exhaust ~ ~を使い尽くす、使い果たす、不毛{ふもう}にする
・The memory for storing this data has been exhausted. : このデータを記憶するメモリがいっぱいになった。

associate ~
  1. ~と(~を)結び付ける、結合させる、結び付けて考える、関連付ける、関連させる◆【用法】associate~with~
  2. ~で(~を)連想する、思い出す◆【用法】associate~with~
    ・For animals, vets are associated with shots and medicines. : 動物たちにとって、獣医は注射や薬を連想させるものである。
  3. ~を仲間に加える、提携させる
intellectual ~ 知識人、有識者、文化人

no exception ~ 《be ~》例外でない
・Women are naturally superior to men, and you are no exception, Ann. :

bigot ~ 偏狭な人、頑固者、偏屈者、偏見を持つ人
arrogant bigot ~ 思い上がりの頑固者
narrow-minded bigot ~ 了見の狭い頑固者
She is a bigot. She is slamming millions of people she knows nothing about.

come up with ~
  1. 〈話〉〔アイデアなどを〕思い付く、考え付く、考え出す
    ・Did you come up with an idea for a new product? : 新製品のアイデア、思い付いた?
    ・Where in the world did you come up with that? : 一体全体どうしてそのようなことを思い付いたんだね。/やぶから棒に何の話だね。
  2. ・Let me ask you a question. How did you come up with the idea for him to buy out that company? : 一つ聞きたいんだが、彼がその会社を買収するというアイデアはどこから思い付いたんだ?
    ・Let me know what you came up with by e-mail. : メールにて結果をお知らせください。
    ・What idiot came up with that name? : どこのばかが、そんな名前をつけたのだ。
    ・Is this the best you can come up with? : こんなアイデアしか思い付けないのか。/もっとましなアイデアはないのですか。
  3. 〈話〉〔答などを〕見つけ出す
  4. (人)と一緒に近づいてくる、~と同一水準に達する、~と対等になる、~に追いつく
  5. 工面する、用意する、補充する
    ・It was difficult to come up with the rent of the room. : 部屋の借り賃を工面するのが大変だった。
  6. 仕返しする
  7. 〔病気に〕かかる
double-check ~ 〔正確性・安全性などの〕再確認、二重チェック
    ・All right, I'll double-check it to be sure. : では、念のためダブルチェックします


「its」と「it's」の違い, アポストロフィの使い方、part 4

This restaurant is one that I often eat it.
× Its an Italian restaurant in the Yaechika.
It's an Italian restaurant in the Yaechika.

× It's pasta is priced really reasonably.
Its pasta is priced really reasonably.
"Its" is the possessive version, but it doesn't use an apostrophe. The reason is that somehow "it's", which means "it is" or "it has", gets the priority.
  • possessive noun 所有格名詞 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • have priority (~よりも)優先権を持っている、(~よりも)優先{ゆうせん}する (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
You might even see native speakers make this mistake. I make it from time to time.

Thinking back to the previous posts in this series, you might say "wait! I thought I can only use the 's' for people and animals!"

Well, there is a rule, but native speakers don't always follow it; that's typical for English.

However, if you go to Google and search, you can find these results:
  • "the restaurant's food" - 455,000 results
  • "the food at the restaurant" - 2,400,000 results
You can see that the non-apostrophe version is more common.

Anyway, I recommend this restaurant for cheap and delicious pasta. It's located at the end of the Yaechika near Bridgestone. Its atmosphere might not be the greatest, but it's got good food.



I spotted this strange looking thing in Yurakucho the other evening. Take a look at the pic. on the right. What do you think it is?

The small, white, half-circular object in the top left is the moon.

But what about the dark, odd-looking shaped object in the middle of the pic?

Well, any time you are not sure about something you can use some of the following speculative expressions:

It could be... (shows possibility)
It could be a man's fist or it could be a woman's leg.
It might be...(when you are 50% sure)
It might be a dog with a long neck.
It must be... (When you are quite sure about the situation)
It must be a monster of some sort.

So what do you think it is? I will give a small hint. He is a famous movie star whose movies I used to watch when I was a kid. He is very tall and spits fire when angry. A famous Japanese major league baseball player shares the same name.

Anyway, if you are really curious and want to know for sure I recommend that you go to Yurakucho. You can see this object for yourself. It is behind the Ginza West building, on the way to the Takarazuka Theater in Yurakucho.

Useful Vocabulary
(noun) of some sort ~ 何らかの
Some people see suicide as weakness of some sort.

odd-looking ~ 見た目の変な、外見が奇妙な

spit ~ 唾を吐く
・Don't spit into the wind. : 《諺》天に向かって唾を吐く


アポストロフィの使い方、part 3

I've been talking about apostrophes for a few posts now. Here are the two previous posts:
Last time, I said you should only use apostrophes for animals and people, but there's one other case that's common: you can use an apostrophe to talk about a noun related to a time.
  • Today's blooming cherry trees are really beautiful, even at night.
  • I'm not sure if they are more beautiful than last year's, though.
  • I hope that tomorrow's forecasted rain doesn't spoil the blossoms.
  • 打ち壊す (うちこわす) (v5s) to destroy; to spoil; to crush; to wreck; (definition from Edict)
  • 損なう (そこなう) (suf,v5u) to harm; to hurt; to injure; to damage; to fail in doing; (P); <- similar to "spoil"
However, using the apostrophe for times which are shorter than an hour is less common or strange.
× It started raining earlier tonight, but the last minute's rain has been lighter. <- not exactly wrong, but...
◯ It started raining earlier tonight, but the rain in the last minute has been lighter. <- this sentence is more natural, I think.
I'll look at some more common mistakes with apostrophes next time. In the meantime, enjoy this year's cherry blossoms!


アポストロフィの使い方、part 2

The other day in front of Coredo, I saw this bike. It's crazy, isn't it?
  • × The bicycle's handlebars have so many things on them.
  • ◯ The handlebars of the bicycle have so many things on them.
I was talking about the rules for apostrophes the other day. Here's another rule: only use apostrophes for people and animals. Don't use them for things. Instead, you should use "of", another preposition, or maybe a relative clause.

The bike had a clock, a computer for tracking miles, lucky charms, a fleece ear warmer, a rear-view mirror, a basket with a cooler pack in it, and even a home-made storage container hanging under the seat.
× The seat's container was especially interesting.
◯ The container under the seat was especially interesting.
It was made from a container of baby wipes.
  • cleaning wipes クリーニングワイプス◆洗剤を染み込ませた厚手のシート
The label had been removed. A giant replica of a five-yen coin had been taped to one side of it, and a reflector had also been installed on it.

This person's bike, though nice, is really different from mine. <- the apostrophe is OK, because this is a person, not a thing

I'm taking mine to the bike shop this weekend, which should be fun. I hope you all have a pleasant weekend, too.



Where is the best place to go shopping in Tokyo? Some may say Shibuya or Shinjuku. Others might say Harajuku or Omotesando. However for many shoppers Ginza tops the list. There are a throng of shops, charming tree-lined side streets, and a plethora of fine restaurants.

I happened to pass by the De Beers jewelry boutique the other day and saw this thing of beauty in the showcase. My wife says seeing beautiful things will make one's life more beautiful. I am not sure if a gorgeous, (unattainable for the average Tokyo office worker), dazzling diamond necklace fits that bill but the piece is simply stunning, isn't it? However I was puzzled by the cheesy catchphrase " A diamond is forever." It sounds like a James Bond or Jet Li movie title. I thought that such an exquisite shop could come up with a better slogan.

Anyway, what are some beautiful things you have seen recently?

Useful Vocabulary
a throng of ~ ~の群れ、多数{たすう}の~、大勢{おおぜい}の~

a plethora of~ 多量{たりょう}の、過多{かた}の、手に 余るほどの~

unattainable~ 〔目標{もくひょう}などが〕達成不可能{たっせい ふかのう}

(something) fits the bill. ~ それはまさにもってこいだね。◆何かを称賛するときの慣用表現

pass by~ ~のそばを通る、~を通り過ぎる
・I pass by the hospital every day on my way to work. :

cheesy~ 趣味{しゅみ}の悪い、派手{はで}な、け ばけばしい
・He came to the party wearing a cheesy shirt. :

  1. 〔美しさ・技量・能力などが〕この上なく素晴{すば}らしい、優れた、申し分な い、絶妙{ぜつみょう}の◆【語源】十分 に(ex)探し求められた(quisite)
  2. 非常{ひじょう}に美しい、優美{ゆうび}
  3. 〔作品{さくひん}の 仕上{しあ}がりなどが〕精妙{せいみょう}な、 精巧{せいこう}な、精緻{せいち}
  4. 〔感 覚{かんかく}などが〕鋭い、鋭敏{えいびん}な、 繊細{せんさい}
  5. 〔好み・言動{げん どう}などが〕上品{じょうひん}な、洗練{せ んれん}された、気品{きひん}のある
  6. 〔食べ物・飲み物などが〕 極上{ごくじょう}の、最高{さいこう}の、 美味{びみ}な、申し分のない、絶品{ぜっぴん}
  7. 〔喜 び・苦痛{くつう}・痛み・満足感{まんぞくかん}な どが〕非常{ひじょう}に強い、鋭い、強烈な、激しい

アポストロフィの使い方、part 1

As I always say, people should be more careful about their English signage!
  • signage 標識
Here's a shop in the Yaechika. One problem is that the sign says "FIRSTDRINK" when it should say "FIRST DRINK".

That's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the other mistake. Their sign says:

× Ladys Day
× Lady's Day
× Ladie's Day
× Ladies's Day
◯ Ladies' Day

Here are the reasons.

First, a possessive noun needs an apostrophe. That's what you call that little mark that looks like a comma.
  • possessive noun 所有格名詞 (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
  • 読点 (とうてん) (n) comma; (definition from Edict)
Second, I suppose they want to serve more than one lady. Don't use a singular noun in this case!

Third, if the noun ends in an "s", don't put the apostrophe before that "s". Also, don't add another "s". Please put the apostrope after the final "s".

I'll have more on using an apostrophe next time.



A few days ago, by either a huge mistake or miracle, I managed to take a picture of myself as I was trying to turn off the alarm. In the morning, I'm a zombie. Look! There's even something on my nose. Gross!
  • 奇跡 (きせき) (n) miracle; wonder; marvel; (P);
  • 奇蹟 (きせき) (n) miracle; wonder; marvel;
  • 驚異 (きょうい) (n) wonder; miracle; (P);
  • 神業 (かみわざ) (n) divine work; miracle; (P); (definitions from Edict)
  • gross 気持ち悪い、嫌な、ゾッとする、吐き気を催すような、いまいましい、ムカムカさせる、むかつく (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
× I'm not coherent by the time I drink some tea.
◯ I'm not coherent until I drink some tea.
筋の通った (すじのとおった) rational; logical; coherent; (definition from Edict)

× Usually I'm not a zombie until I leave the house. <- it means when I leave, I become a zombie! This is not true!
◯ Usually I'm not a zombie by the time I leave the house.
  • "by" (prep) + __(a point in time)__ (amount of time used is unclear)
  • "until" (prep/conj) + __(a point in time)__ (amount of time used is clear)
  • point in time = date, clock time, condition
× That's because on most mornings, I've had a cup of tea until 9 am. <- huh? I don't think we use "until" with present perfect tense.
◯ That's because on most mornings, I've had a cup of tea by 9 am.

× Please study this post by the time you understand it.
◯ Please study this post until you understand it.

If I don't go to sleep soon, I'll be an even more gruesome zombie in the morning. Good night!
  • 悽絶 (せいぜつ) (adj-na,n) extremely weird; gruesome; lurid; ghastly; (definitions from Edict)



Last week, I was at Tamagawa University for a meeting. I had to walk across the campus to get to the building where the meeting was being held. That's when I saw this nice tree in bloom.
  • 花咲く (はなさく) (v5) to bloom; (definition from Edict)
  • in bloom 真っ盛りで、咲いて (definition from Eijiro on the Web)
× By the flowers on this tree, I know spring is near.
By seeing the flowers on this tree, I know spring is near.
Because of the flowers on this tree, I know spring is near.
You know, I think many Japanese learn early on to say things like "I went there by train".
× By that, they want to translate で as "by" in many cases.
Because of that, they want to translate で as "by" in many cases.
However, many of those cases should be "because of", not "by". If you want to use "by", you probably should follow it with a verb+ing, not a noun.


「distraction 」と「destruction」の違い

Something unsual happened on Sunday. Just as I was finishing my lunch, there was a phone call on the intercom. (all of today's definitions are from Edict)
  • インターフォン intercom;
The building manager called, asking us to evacuate the building. He said the fire alarm had gone off on our floor!
  • 立ち退く (たちのく) (v5k) to evacuate; to clear out; to vacate; to withdraw; to take refuge; (P);
  • 火災警報 (かさいけいほう) fire alarm;
Within a minutes, I had grabbed as many valuables as I could and ran down many, many stairs to the lobby.
  • 貴重品 (きちょうひん) (n) valuables; treasures; (P);
When I got there, there were roughly 30 firemen, several police officers, building staff, and residents around the building. I was amazed at the quick response.
  • 略 (ほぼ) (adv) almost; roughly; approximately; (P);
As it turns out, one resident went to sleep with a pot on the stove. The burning contents inside produced a lot of smoke, triggering the smoke detector. Fortunately, there was no fire and there were no injuries.
  • 誘発 (ゆうはつ) (n,vs) cause; induce; lead up to; (P); trigger?
Instead of destruction, it just turned out to be a big distraction from my Sunday activities.
  • 潰滅 (かいめつ) (n,vs) destruction; annihilation;
  • 憂さ晴らし (うさばらし) (n) diversion; distraction;
Notice that "destruction" and "distraction" have very similar spelling and pronunciation, but the meanings are really different.

As for the pronunciation, the "e" in "destruction" sounds like the "ee" in "see". The "i" in "distraction" sounds like the "i" in "pig" and "tip". The "u" in "destruction" sounds like the "u" in "truck". The "a" in "distraction" sounds like the "a" in "track". Be careful!