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Monday, February 03, 2014

The crab in Japanese

Crab is kani in Japanese, and is both a culinary delicacy and an element of numerous metaphors. English has its "crabby" to express grouchiness and spite, and the verb "crab" to express oblique sideways movement. Japanese has even more. Here's a few of them.

"Crab prayer" (kani no nenbutsu)
Mumbling on at length - after the way a crab bubbles at the mouth

"A crab digs a hole like its own shell" (Kani wa kohra ni nisete ana o horu)
To each his/her own; different strokes for different folks

"Like a crab with its claws torn off" (Kani no tsume ga mogareta yoh)
Utterly helpless

"A flustered crab doesn't make it to its hole" (Urotaeru kani ana ni hairazu)
Even crabs, well known for secreting themselves in holes, lose their way to their hole if flustered. In other words, "keep your cool."

"A crab's death grip" (Kani no shinibasami)
Once a crab grips something, it never let's go, even if its claws are pulled off. A phrase used to express extreme desire and tenacity.

"The crab that comes after gets the rice cake" (Ato hau kani ga mochi o hiroh)
Luck comes even to those who don't frenetically seek success.

"A crab's sidewise skitter" (Kani no yokobai)
A way of doing things that might seem odd to others, but is right for the doer.

 Read more about the Japanese language

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