Monday Soundcheck 56

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Of course this is meant to be Sunday Soundcheck, but I missed another weekend post. Not wanting to let this series fall another week behind, I have decided to post it today.

Time to start a new column. We are now on the M column and the first sound is ma, written in hiragana as ま and in katakana as マ. Today will be ‘my day’, this is a bit of a pun; and yet, at the same time, it is not one. Also between the katakana entries and hiragana, we’ll have a hybrid entry. Do you have bated breath yet?

Maikaa (マイカー) comes from the English words ‘my’ and ‘car’, but it doesn’t mean ‘my car’. In this case ‘my’ really means “one’s own”. ‘My’ gets used in a lot of phrases where it could be ‘your’, ‘hers’, or ‘his’. The sentence, “She has ‘my car’.”, would really mean, “She has her own car.”

Maihoomu (マイホーム) is from ‘my home’, similarly it really means “one’s own home”.

Maipeesu (マイペース) is from ‘my pace’, this one is interesting because it isn’t just “one’s own pace”, but rather “taking it easy”. We never use it to describe someone doing something ‘at their own pace’, unless it is slower than hoped or expected.

Maineemu (マイネーム) is from ‘my name’, this is a phrase that drives English teachers insane. Japanese kids are convinced, usually by external pressure from teachers and parents, that they can’t understand English; causing them to freeze up in the simplest of situations. Education often breaks down to the home room teacher saying, “My name is?” and the student replying, “Sakura.” I have encountered numerous adults who believe saying, “My name is.” is equivalent to the question, “What’s your name?” (Grrr!) There is also a product called ‘My Name’, which is a medium weight felt pen for writing on name tags. It is so unnatural to say, that I have sometimes called it a ‘Sign Pen’ which means ‘signature pen’ and refers to a pen of different weight. I have yet to meet a teacher who could fathom why I might consider these two things similar.

Maihashi (マイはし・マイ箸) is our hybrid word for the day: it is written in katakana and hiragana, because it is from an English word, ‘my’, and a Japanese word, hashi – meaning ‘chopsticks’. We use this term to refer to someone who carries their own chopsticks around to avoid using disposable ones at cheap restaurants: motivated by environmental concerns or avoiding splinters or a need to seem cool and fashionable.

In Japanese the same sound that’s used to represent the English word ‘my’ is also a prefix which means ‘every’. Let’s run through a number of examples.

Maiasa (まいあさ・毎朝) and maiban (毎晩) mean ‘every morning’ and ‘every night’.

Maitoshi (まいとし・毎年), maitsuki (まいつき・毎月), maishuu (まいしゅう・毎週), mainichi (まいにち・毎日) and maiji (まいじ・毎時) mean ‘every year’, ‘every month’, ‘every week’, ‘every day’, and ‘every hour’.

Maido (まいど・毎度) is an interesting one because it means ‘every time’ or ‘as usual’, but it is also used as a form of thanks in the Kansai region (関西). I prefer to think of it as, “We’re always happy to get your business.”

Maikai (まいかい・毎回) also means ‘everytime’.

Maigou (まいごう・毎号) can mean ‘every issue’, or ‘each issue’.

Well, that should be more than enough of ‘my’ writing for the day.

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