In 1999, there was a discussion on the Honyaku mailing list
about "unlookupables"--lexical expressions that cannot be found in
dictionaries easily or at all. One such expression in Japanese is that of
男の「お」の字もない or 英語の「え」の字も知らない; somebody trying to understand these phrases or translate them into
English would of course not find them under お or え, and no kokugo dictionaries
I checked had anything under 字, either (a couple of Japanese-English
dictionaries did have examples, though).|
An example in English would be series of nouns that either have no "and" before the last item or include "and" between every pair of items. I noted this passage from the U.S. National Public Radio news program All Things Considered on December 6, 1999:
This part of Queens, Elmhurst-Corona, back in 1940 was Italian, Irish, Jewish, German--almost entirely white. That's true of 1950 and 1960. Then a new immigration wave started from Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. In the late '60s, the Medicare and Medicaid programs created a boom in hospital employment at every level. Doctors, psychiatrists, dental technicians--all could make more money here than back home.These "A, B, C" series mean "A, B, C, and others"--they're explicitly nonexclusive. "A and B and C" has similar meaning. From the same report:
They take it for granted that there are kids in their schools who are Haitians and Colombians and Mexicans and Chinese and Koreans.No English dictionaries I checked noted the nonexclusive meaning of "and" in "A and B and C," and it's difficult to imagine how they might note the meaning of the absence of "and" in "A, B, C."
I was thinking of this issue today because of the following introduction to a story in the December 31/January 7 issue of Spa!:
年末年始の観光シーズン。温泉に、ハワイにと出かける人も多いのではないでしょうか。しかし、いい加減、温泉だハワイだって、代わり映えのしない旅でいいんですかっ！The repetition of particles--here, に and だ--is something that one wishes could be looked up, but it can't. And neither can that final っ of …いいんですかっ. Dictionaries would serve their users better if they included lists of such unlookupables.
(December 28, 2002)