06 December 2007

Wordcatcher Tales: Shaba, Tekipaki, Baribari

From Life behind Barbed Wire [鉄柵生活 Tessaku Seikatsu]: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawai‘i Issei, by Yasutaro Soga [1873–1957] (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2008), p. 102:
Internees called the world beyond the barbed wire shaba. Although I did not like this word and did not use it, nearly everyone else did because it was convenient. Another word, chokuchi, often used by Mainlanders, was new at first to those of us from Hawaii, but it means to cheat. It probably comes from a Chinese word. Instead of tekipaki (quickly), internees said baribari, which I think is vernacular from somewhere in Japan. Farmers from the Mainland who grew vegetables at the camp said kyukanpo for "cucumber." Japanese often confuse the p sound with b because there is no p sound in the original Japanese language. My friends from Hawaii often say "blantation" for "plantation" and "Poston" for "Boston." I thought this strange at first. As the influence of Hawaii internees grew in the camps, the use of Hawaiian words began to spread among the Mainlanders. Soon everyone was using kaukau [‘food’], aikane [‘friend’], and moimoi [moemoe ‘sleep’].
This is a strange passage. It sounds as if the author was interned with Koreans rather than Japanese, since mixing up p and b, t and d, and k and g is one of the markers of Korean-accented Japanese. There was also some new vocabulary for me. I haven't been able to find chokuchi 'to cheat', but the others are worth noting.

娑婆 shaba is 'the world' or 'the world outside', as in shaba ni deru 'to go out into the world = to get out of prison'. (I wonder if it also means 'to leave the priesthood'.) But it also appears in 娑婆気 lit. 'world feeling', as in shabaki o suteru 'to give up worldly ambitions or desires'. The author of the passage cited above was a news reporter interned with a lot of Buddhist priests.

てきぱき tekipaki seems to indicate not just quick, but also brisk, decisive, precise, and prompt, quickness with a military snap to it. All these qualities are presumably implied in the name of a Japanese web-hosting service, tekipaki.jp.

ばりばり baribari, by contrast, stresses not just speed, but energy and even fury, as in ばりばり働く baribari hataraku 'work like a demon'.

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