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Monday, October 07, 2013

Moyori Eki - Learning Japanese


Even for an advanced second-language Japanese speaker like myself, there are moments of embarrassing failure. There was one such incident the other day when a Japanese colleague asked me Moyori eki wa doko desu ka?

“eki” means “station,” as every Japanese language beginner knows. But moyori? After the fact, the word slowly comes back to me, but upon being asked I immediately took it up as being a place name - perhaps thinking confusedly of the word mori (“forest”) that often crops up in place names.

I therefore answered with the incredibly dumb-sounding Wakarimasen (“I don’t know”).

moyori means “the closest, the nearest, neighboring, nearby,” so in reply to being asked what the closest station was to where I lived, I had said I didn’t know!

The mo in moyori is the kanji better known in the word mottomo (written with the kanji 最も, not the hiragana もっとも—which has a different meaning). In moyori it is abbreviated to mo. The yori is from the verb yoru (寄る) or “stop by, call at, get close to.” Put them together, 最寄, and you have the sense of “the closest,” incorporating a sense of destination. Thus moyori-eki: the nearest station.

So please don’t make my mistake. If someone asks you Moyori eki wa doko desu ka, don’t say Wakarimasen!

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