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22 June 2008

It’s a Riot: Part 2

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How odd it is that "She's a riot!" means someone's funny. English speakers even say that something's "riotously funny." I've never been to a riot, but from the photos I've seen, nothing amusing happens at such events.

Riot After an Election
Photo Credit: Daniel Meyer

In Japanese, too, there seems to be a fine line between riots and merrymaking. Take this word, for instance:

(sōran: riot, disturbance)     clamor + disorder

Last week we saw how (SŌ, sawa(gu): clamor, noise, disturbance; to make a fuss) plays a part in 大騒ぎ (ōsawagi), which means "shocking events." Now we see that in 騒乱, the same kanji helps to cause a riot.

If you flip 騒乱 and add a "foolish spirit" to it, your riot turns into a party:

乱痴気騒ぎ (ranchiki sawagi: boisterous merrymaking)
     disorder + foolish + spirit + clamor

And if you'd like to "make merry" in a different way, here's another option:

底抜け騒ぎ (sokonuke sawagi: boisterous merrymaking)
     bottom + to remove + clamor

Ah, 底抜け (sokonuke) breaks down as bottom + to remove and means "bottomless"! And no, even though there's boisterous merrymaking at hand, we're not talking about bottomless pants (a la David Lee Roth).

Further Notes on Bottomlessness …

Boisterous merrymaking is one thing, but what about when the fun becomes disorderly? Then you have this situation:

悪騒ぎ (warusawagi: disorderly merrymaking; making a fuss without considering the annoyance it causes others)     bad + clamor

Disorderly merrymaking? Not allowed! First, you need to clean off your desk and get your files in order, aligning your stapler just so and disentangling your paper clips. Only then is it OK to have fun!

(more̷ ;) Blog 6/13/08 10:03 AM Eve Kushner Kanji Curiosity Comments

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