You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. Leviticus 19:26

1. Kotoba Uranai

Each language meaningfully reflects a culture of its speakers, which is one of the most interesting aspect of languages to learn for me. By studying second language, you know another culture, then you may possibly find the true nature of yourself. Cultural comparison is a key to conduct an effective self-analysis. I think.

I can somewhat use Japanese, as my mother tongue, and English, as my second languege, so I occasionally notice a kind of difference between them. The abundance of "Onomatopoeia", for example, is a famous feature of Japanese. Just yesterday, a word "Moko-Moko Awa suffered me too much and deprived me of my precious working time as a technical translator. At first a word "Bubbly" came up to my head as the translation of "Moko-Moko", but I could not have confidence. Then googled like "Moko-Moko in English" and found a word "Fluffy", but I was not sure whether I could use "Fluffy" for bubbles or not. (Most of the pictures suggested by Google were actually "Fuwa-Fuwa" animals.) Sounds fun if I leave "Moko-Moko" as it is? But I do not know what other countries people think when they hear or see "Moko-Moko". All in all, "Moko-Moko" is just a Japanese cultural onomatopoeia.


The difference between Japanese and English I noticed today was a thing about the word "Uranai".

I woke up this morning and saw a morning news show as always. The show has a daily horoscope program. My zodiac sign is Scorpius by the way. The rank of Scorpius today was...5th, which is totally not bad.

While driving to my office, I thought of things related to the horoscope. And somehow I realized that there are so many English words which represent the meaning of "Uranai". Fortune telling, Scrying, Augury, Divination, Soothsaying, and so on. How do native speakers choose and use these words?

I guess this variety of "Uranai"-related words is a reflection of religious diversity among English speakers. From the beggining of History, there have been many types of rituals on earth to tell someone's fortune. As ages have passed and English world becomes bigger, English took these cultures into it and perhaps the name of the rituals have been remaining as loan words. The word borrowing is one of the most apparent characteristics of English.

On the contrary, Japanese does not have so many synonyms of a word "Uranai" itself. Sure, Japanese has lots compound words of "Uranai", for example, "Hoshi-Uranai", "Doubutsu-Uranai",  "Hana-Uranai", etc. But every fortune telling act is just called as "Uranai" or "Sen" something. Both "Uranai" and "Sen" use same kanji as "占" so basically they both represent the same notion. The uniformity might be caused by histrical religious uniformity of Japan? Really interesting thing to think, but too deep to go into. Help me teacher!