Know Your Picture Characters Entry #56

May 30th, 2011 by Wordsman

A. 蛙の子は蛙 B. 虎穴に入らずんば虎児を得ず

C. 三人寄れば文殊の知恵 D. 船頭多くして船山に登る

E. 覆水盆に返らず

“Not even the wisest can see all ends.”

Not a proverb, exactly, but hopefully it’s some comfort to the weekly KYPC sufferers . . . I mean, contestants.

What do you look for in a proverb?  Theoman likes ’em short and sweet, preferably of the “X=Y” variety.  This must be why he went for A, and his instincts did not lead him astray.  “The child of a frog is a frog,” or, as we like to say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

A Fan, on the other hand, seems to think that the most important aspect of a proverb is that it be in another language, which means that he would probably do well to learn a few of these.  “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is certainly true, but it can’t be found on this list.  Neither can “A good beer is a good friend.”  The graduate student’s motto, “To learn is to suffer,” is not located at E, but its cousin can be seen up there at B: “If you don’t go into the tiger’s lair, you won’t get a tiger cub.”  Why you would want to get a tiger cub is left up to the imagination, I suppose.  And it looks like he picked up on A, too.  Guess that one’s pretty easy to recognize across language barriers.

Leaving aside the issue of whether or not Shirley has a grudge against members of the legal profession, I think it would be best for everyone to calm down a little about E.  After all, there’s no use crying over spilt milk, or, to put it another way, spilt water won’t go back in the tray.  Maybe if you put it in a cup or something instead, it wouldn’t have spilled in the first place, but I guess that’s all water under the bridge now.  She also cites another proverb with a lot of applicability for graduate students, most of whom would be rather distressed to learn that “Money can’t buy happiness” isn’t actually true.  In fact, there seem to be a lot of proverbs that she feels miss the mark; perhaps they were put into production without sufficient prior consultation.  Maybe they should have had more people think about these things first, falling back on C, “Two heads are better than one,” or, “When three people come together, they have the wisdom of Manjusri.”  I suppose I can’t blame you guys for not getting one that involves Buddhism.

Dragon thought D looks painful.  And it is, but not because it represents “No pain, no gain.”  D is the Japanese equivalent of “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” but its literal meaning implies rather more drastic consequences than simply having to eat a subpar meal: “Too many captains will steer the ship up a mountain.”  Ouch!

And now it’s time for a little song and dance number.  This week we’re going to be looking at musicals.  Now, for a lot of Broadway musicals, the Japanese equivalent title is not a translation but a transliteration: Cats is Kyattsu, Rent is Rento, etc.  It’s not like we don’t do this in English, too: last time I checked, Les Misérables wasn’t English.  But that didn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, so I decided to render them by their meanings rather than by their sounds.  Half of the shows on this list, though, are given as they typically would be in Japanese.  All of them are from the list of Top 20 Longest Running Broadway Shows of All Time.  Those who can read katakana could choose to show off by identifying the easy ones, but I think it would be more fun to challenge yourself and try something harder.

A. オペラ座の怪人 B. 猫 C. 美女と野獣 D. 惨め者達 E. 家賃

F. 屋根の上のバイオリン弾き

And, finally, bonus points to anyone who can guess the somewhat convoluted string of associations that explains why this challenge is appearing today, of all days.

Posted in Know Your Picture Characters | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. Theoman Says:

    I can easily tell what the ones with katakana are, as well as B, but it would be unfair to everyone else to just say them, so I’ll make more of a guess and say that C is “Beauty and the Beast”. (Oh, and yes, I looked up the list. That’s not cheating, is it?)

  2. Shirley Says:

    Les Miz is the most operatic (Phantom conceivably might make the same claim), does full justice to Hugo’s great novel, and it’s sheer length and heft. So should be F.

    A. is jazzy, dancelike, with a couple of very alarming characters giving warning of the underlying violence,cruelty and viciousness lurking under the seemingly lighthearted surface. A. has to be the deeply disturbing Chicago.

    D. is dark and dense enough for the tragedy of Phantom.

    C. has something of the grace and enigmatic quality of the wonderful cat. So, C., Cats.

    B. represents the struggles of the poverty stricken to get enough together to pay the Rent.

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