Voracious Vernacular

Homophun with Homophones

By Jackson Pietsch

Lately I’ve been studying out of this book, whose first section focuses on different kanji compounds with the same reading. These compounds are of particular interest to me considering that a large percentage of my social capital is based on the production and deployment of awful jokes, with any and all words that sound remotely similar being fair game. For example, one of the better known Japanese homophones, はし, can mean “bridge,” “chopsticks,” or “end/edge.”

Consider today’s post a mere sampler of the rich homophonic cheese fermenting in the cellars of Nippongo. I’ll be focusing on kanji compounds and offering a few examples, but keep in mind that there’s plenty more to play around with. 

せいふく (seifuku)

  • 制服: uniform; what your (non-elementary) students probably wear
  • 征服: conquest; subjugation; overcoming. This one I first learned from the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu song Invader Invader. Ossha let’s sekai seifuku da!

こうはい (kouhai)

  • 後輩: one’s junior (at work, school, etc); a younger person/student
  • 荒廃: ruin; destruction; devastation; waste; decay. Yay!
  • 交配: mating; crossbreeding; cross-fertilization. This one I actually just learned. Wonder why the book didn’t see fit to include this? We’re a generation of Pokemon breeders. Quoth jisho.org:

    「馬とロバを交配させるとラバが生まれる。」[“If you mate a horse with an ass you will get a mule.”] 

てんさい (tensai)

  • 天才: genius; prodigy; a natural talent (Who’s smarter than a tensai? An eleven-sai!)
  • 天災: natural disaster or calamity

しぼう (shibou)

  • 脂肪: fat; grease; blubber. Now I’m hungry.
  • 死亡: death; mortality; to die or pass away

せいき (seiki)

  • 世紀: century; era
  • 正規: regular; normal; formal; legal; established; legitimate. Yawn.
  • 性器: genitals. Quoth Jisho.org, presented without comment:

    「昨日の今日だし・・・その・・・性器が痛かったりは?」「まだ、少しヒリヒリしますけど」
    [“It’s right after yesterday so… that is… do your genitals hurt or…?” “It still smarts a little but…”]

Got other ones you like? Let us know in the comments!

Wanna share your nihongo knowledge? Send us your favorite slang, dialectal phrases and study habits to goodmorningaomori@gmail.com

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2 thoughts on “Homophun with Homophones

  1. Pingback: December 2015, Vol. 1 | Good Morning Aomori produced by Aomori AJET

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