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Monday, April 14, 2014

"Back where we belong" in Japanese: yori o modosu


"getting back together," "turning the clock back," "starting over" are sentiments of one-time friends, partners and lovers  the world over.

A common way of expressing this feeling in Japanese is the phrase yori o modosu よりを戻す.

To those who know a little Japanese, the yori might seem unintuitive as it is usually encountered with the meaning of "more than," e.g. Kocha yori kohi ga suki (I like coffee more than tea.)

But actually yori/yoru  has all sorts of meanings, backed by various different kanji.

For example, there's yoru 寄る that's all about drawing near, coming/bringing together; e.g. washed up seaweed, i.e. seaweed that has been drawn to shore, is called yorimo 寄り藻.

There's, admittedly, the not so common 選る or 択る meaning to select, pick out, choose (according to a purpose or criterion).

There's the 因る (also able to be written 由る, 依る, or 拠る, but nearly always rendered in hiragana) that is the second kanji in gen'in 原因, or "cause, origin":  It is probably more familiarly encountered as よって、i.e., to be based on or "according to" or "from" or "by," as in Kare no hanashi ni yotte midori da (According to what he says, it's green.), or Chiiki ni yotte hatsuon ga kawaru (The pronunciation differs by district).

But getting back to the yori of the title, this yori is based on "yoru" 撚る, meaning "to twist." Written as 撚り, it becomes the noun "twisting." modosu means "to restore," so to "restore the twisting" is a thread-based metaphor in which strands that have become untwisted are retwisted back into a single thread.

So "restoring the twisting," "getting re-entwined," "reopening dialog," "wrapping yourselves around each other again" - however you want to envision it - yori o modosu is all about reliving the good old times with someone.

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