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What do the words mean?

Blog entry for April 2014

Someone asked if I could translate the words on the puzzle on the right, so here we are. This is this year's pun: it is the year of the horse (uma)...

Uma-ku-iku

Since this is written vertically (as almost all traditional writing is), read the columns from right to left, numbered 1 to 8.

1大丈夫Dai-jō-buOK!
2萬事banjiEverything
3まあるくma-a-rukuroundly...
4馬九行くuma-ku-iku(nine horses go)
5うまくいく。umaku iku.goes well.
6笑顔満開Egao mankaiBig wide smile...
7しあわせ街道shiawase kaidōhappy road...
8まっしぐら。masshigura.full speed ahead!

Well, no-one said translating poetry is easy! It is very hard to convey the warmth of words, as opposed to their superficial meaning. But anyway, see how lines 3 and 4 repeat the uma-ku-iku pun to make sure no-one misses it: "Horse-nine-go / well (umaku) - go."

We are increasing the range of puzzles like this: collected together on this page: Art with words. I will always try to add some explanation, but I'm afraid it not always possible to provide a neat and complete translation. Remember that you can find out an amazing amount from Wiktionary — just paste Japanese words into the box, and with luck you will get an English explanation.

Brian Chandler

"A kind of blog..." My sporadic comments, mostly topical, on shop matters. (Brian Chandler)

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