Free Time vs. Free -- 暇と自由

[The commonly used Japanese word 「暇」 (hima) has no direct translation in English. It means, "free", as in "free time", or "Are you free to give me a hand right now?" But "free", by itself has a wide variety of meanings.
[日本語でよく使われる単語ですが、「暇」と言う言葉は直訳できません。"Free time," (フリータイム)及び "Are you free to give me a hand right now?" (ただいまはお暇なら、手伝っていただけません?)の "free" は確かに「暇」に当たる意味がありますが、単独の "free" はいろんな広い範囲の意味を持っています。]

(Scene -- Four friends decorating a room for a party.)

Michiko: Tom, are you free?

Tom (singing): I'm free! I'm free! And I'm waiting for you to follow me. 

Michiko: Huh?

Tom: It's a song by The Who

Michiko: The what?

Tom: The Who. They were a sixties band.

Michiko: Anyway, can you come help me?

Tom: Hang on a second while I finish this.

Michiko: It sounds like a strange song.

Tom: It is. It's about a boy who suddenly finds himself free.

Michiko: Suddenly finds himself free? That could be kind of sad.

Tom: Well, yeah. Let me hold this so you can get your other hand free.

Michiko: Thank you. I mean, to suddenly have nothing to do. 

Tom: Well, it wasn't like that in the movie. It was kind of sad, but there were plenty of demands on his time. Okay, I've got that, now you grab this string and tie it off and I think the flower will hang free.

Michiko: Thanks. There it goes. Wow. It swings easily. Movie?

Tom: Uhm, yeah. Swings free in the breeze. The song was from a rock opera from the seventies, called Tommy. Climb down and let's move the ladder. Do you need help with the next one?

Michiko: This one will be easier, I think I can do it myself. So you were named after the movie? Just kidding.

Tom: No, I was named after my grandfather. I'll get back to work on the streamers. Hey, Jun! are you free to give me a hand with the streamers?

Jun: No, I'm afraid not, dude. Sherry has me making origami. I don't think I'll be free from this job until after the party.

Sherry: Go give him a hand. You can help me some more after the streamers are finished. I'll help Michiko since the ladder is kind of dangerous.

Jun: Hmm. Michi, why don't I trade places with you? Then you and Sherry can hold things for Tom and me, and we can keep a hand free for balance.

Michiko: Uhm, okay. I'll tie this one off, and woops!
               Ahhhh, help!

Tom: Whoa! 
         Careful! Goodness, your foot came free at the wrong time, there.

Michiko: Ouch! Thanks. I owe you one for that.

Jun: No need to be in such a rush coming down, Michiko.

Sherry: Benefit slip.

Michiko: I did not do that on purpose.

Tom: I would hope not. I mean, if either of you want a hug, ...

Jun: GROUP HUG! (Jun and Sherry join in the huddle.)

Michiko: (Calming down.) Thanks guys, that's a nice hug. Okay, Jun, let's trade places. But be careful, because there's no one free to catch you if you fall.

Jun: Okay. I'm up there. 

Michiko: I've got the ladder. So what's this movie about?

Jun: What movie? Can you hand me the next hanging decoration? 

Michiko: The doll, I guess. Here you go.

Sherry: Green streamer.

Tom: Oh, Tommy? Thanks, Sherry.

Michiko: The one you were just singing about having nothing to do.

Sherry: I've seen it, too. It's a kind of strange movie.

Tom: Dad says the sixties and the seventies were a strange time. Anyway, this guy, Tommy, loses his father and becomes deaf and blind, and can't talk. Then his mother breaks the mirror and frees him from his terrible memories.

Sherry: That's the really short version, and doesn't really explain much. Is this too loose?

Tom: Uhm, can you back up a bit? There's too much free play here. Anyway, while he's not able to see, talk, or speak, he can play pinball like crazy.

Michiko: Pinball? Need more string?

Sherry: Horizontal pachinko. Maybe you made a small one for crafts in elementary school? Too much tension?

Jun: Yeah, thanks. Flat board with nails poking up, rubber bands and marbles and ... The one I made, the nails were always coming free. And if I held the plunger wrong wrong, the marble would fly free. Which decoration is next?

Michiko: Oh, yeah. I remember making one of those. It didn't work very well. How about this bird?

Jun: Okay. Let's move this ladder.

Tom: The tension feels right. Anyway, he becomes really good at pinball, and wins the championship, and starts a religion after his mother breaks the mirror and he gets his eyesight back. Red streamer? Over there? Strange stuff happens, and he gets freed from his blindness and stuff, but I don't know whether I'd say he was really free.

Sherry: Yeah. Let's move the ladder. I agree. Freedom didn't seem to have much to do with what happened in the movie. It was all so, like, controlled by fate. Or the scriptwriters.

Michiko: Ouch, watch where you step on my fingers! So, freedom might not be free?

Tom: My dad talks to me about that all the time. Not only are there obligations, but there are prices to pay. So free is never free, according to him. Red one.

Michiko: Deep stuff. Here's the bird. I think it's supposed to be a dove.

Jun: Looks nice to me. Say, I know you guys are going to be tired after the party, but are you free tomorrow evening? Got this one tied nicely.

Michiko: No, I'm not free tomorrow. I have Church. Can you reach the next one or should we move the ladder closer?

Jun: I got it. This looks like a frog.

Michiko: Yep.

Jun: My Dad tells me how you never can really get anything for free. Even freebies have a hidden cost.

Tom: Me, neither, same reason. But I think I'll have a free night next Friday. Is that too late for a send-up? The tension feels right on this one. Nothing for free, huh? How about free software?

Sherry: Free software? Well, you know what Stallman says about free-to-use being different from free-as-in-beer. Okay, that's the streamers. You guys and church.

Michiko: Us guys?

Sherry: You have to go home right after the party tonight so you can wake up early for some service project tomorrow. Busy all day, Sunday, too. Don't you ever have any free time?

Tom: Well, like I said, I'm free Friday.

Michiko: I can get free Friday, too. Sorry, it's the best I can do.

Jun: Next Friday's fine. Sherry, if you have no plans for tomorrow, I'm free. Any movie you'd like to see?

Sherry: Oh, I'm sure I can think of one. Let's get back to folding more origami, now that we have all the hanging decorations up.

Tom: Jun, how about helping me put the ladders away. Then we'll be free to fold origami.

[Note how each use of "free" has a context. And when using "free" to talk about "free time", you almost always have an explicit time context.]
["Free" を使っている処は文脈がわかります。「暇」という意味を示す場合はその文脈になる時間がほぼ明確敵に出てきます。]
[Michiko's very first use of "free" is therefore ambiguous, and Tom's response, while interesting, is derived from the ambiguity.]
[したがって、みち子の一番最初に言い出した "free" は曖昧性があって、トムの反応が、面白くても、その曖昧性から生まれ出るのです。]


"Office Staff" -- 総務

Tom: Hey, Mark, long time no see!

Makoto: Yeah, Tom. Long time. What are you doing these days?

Tom: Well, I'm between jobs programming. Taking a little time off while I look for a new contract. How about yourself?

Makoto: Keeping busy. Working in Japan.

Tom: Japan? Way cool. What do you do?

Makoto: You know, I'm not sure what we'd call it in English. I work in an office.

Tom: Not management?

Makoto: No, we help management, but we don't really manage.

Tom: Not secretarial?

Makoto: You know, I think, in America, secretaries generally do this kind of work. It's called so-moo in Japanese. (総務 -- そうむ -- sou-mu) I looked it up and the best definition I could find is "general staff".

Tom: Hmm. Office staff?

Makoto: Maybe so. I basically make sure that a lot of engineering related paperwork gets where it's supposed to go, in the form it's supposed to be in. But I don't do any real engineering. At least, I'm not supposed to.

Tom: Well, a hundred years ago, back when secretaries were still mostly men, I think they'd have called you an engineering secretary.

Makoto: I guess the meanings of words change, huh?

Tom: Yeah. Say, can I buy you a cup of hot chocolate, since you don't drink coffee?

Makoto: Thanks, but why don't we find a place where we can both get a sandwich, and we can talk. It's about lunchtime anyway.

Tom: Great idea!


At an open source trade show

Jack (whispering): Why does Microsoft have a booth here?

Marcy (normal voice): They want to remind us that they think they control the industry.

Wally: Ma'am, I see you are interested in our new Windows 9 Jetro user interface.

Jack: Huh?

Marcy: Uhm, thank you, sir. You have a nice approach, but I'm kind of busy right now.

Wally: When you get a moment, can you come back? We can show you all the latest features.

Marcy: We'll see.

Jack: Chutzpah!

Marcy: Just a salesman. He has to try. We have better things to do.

Jack: Hey, there's the newest Core processor from Intel!

Marcy: Uhm, Jack, if we don't have time for Microsoft Windows 9, ...

Jack: Nine cores! 128 bit integer math!

Daryl: Sir, would you like to experience Fedora running on this processor?

Marcy: Jack, if you want to look at this, I'll see you over in the controls isles.

Jack: Later, I guess. Thanks anyway.

Daryl: Ya'll come back, now.

Jack: Thanks.

Marcy: Wow, this year there are two isles full of MariaDB and PostGreSQL applications. Mainstream.

Jack: Oracle's over at the end of that isle, still managing to keep a MySQL community going, I guess. Here we are, controls applications.

Marcy: We have four isles of controls stuff. Arm, SuperH, Cold Fire, .... The program even says there are a couple of OpenCore booths with applications. We're going mainstream here, too.

Jack: Robots. Washing machines. Vacuum cleaners. Refrigerators. Manufacturing equipment. What's this?

Takashi: Hello sir. Are you interested in compressor applications?

Marcy: As a matter of fact, yes. I see you have refrigeration equipment, but what's this?

Takashi: It looks like an ordinary doorway, doesn't it?

Jack: Yeah.

Takashi: Step through it.

Jack: You go first, Marcy.

Marcy: Oh, where is chivalry these days?

Jack: Equal rights?

Takashi: Shall I demonstrate it for you?

Jack (laughing): I'll give it a try.


Jack: Whoa! That's a sudden shot of air!

Marcy: What's it for?

Takashi: This is called an air shower. It blows the dust off your clothes.

Jack: I think you're right about that.

Marcy: I guess I'm still not seeing something. What's it for?

Jack: Clean room?

Takashi: Most of our customers are foods manufacturers.

Marcy: So, not semiconductor or biological clean room?

Takashi: Yes. This model can be fitted with medium grade air filters, but most applications just need a jet of ordinary air to blow dust and other stuff off the workers' clothes as they enter food processing rooms. Ordinary filters work fine for that.

Jack: So where does open source software come in?

Takashi: Air showers tend to get ignored. And not maintained. So this model is equipped with sensors and timers, to help meet regulatory requirements, and to report when there are certain kinds of problems.

Marcy: Report?

Takashi: Standard interfaces in use by many open-source plant control packages.

Jack: Problems?

Takashi: Filters need cleaning and replacing from time to time, of course. Plant operators need to be reminded that it's time to give the whole thing a good vacuum cleaning and wipe-down. And we have some failure mode testing, as well, so that if a motor goes bad and quits running, that will be reported.

Jack: No Linux running the air shower?

Marcy: That's silly.

Takashi: No, not running the air shower, just the plant control programs. But we do have Linux controlling some of our refrigerators.

Jack: Really?

Marcy: What does it do? Can you tell us about that?

Takashi: Some of our refrigerators can read RF tags and interface to bar code readers, to help automate stock maintenance. And some of our refrigerators can do things even more interesting.

Marcy: Such as?

Takashi: We can set up sections that are kept at different temperatures, and you can also change the maintained temperatures according to things like the time of day, and humidity.

Marcy: Wow. Cool.

Jack: Do you have a blurb or something?

Takashi: Sure. What kind of business are you in?

Marcy: We supply controller circuits. Are you by any chance interested in controller circuits?

Takashi: Do you have a booth? Maybe I or a co-worker could drop by.

Marcy: Yes. We're supposed to be there in a few minutes to take our turn. Maybe we could trade business cards?

Takashi: Sure. Here's a few of data sheets on representative products, and this is my business card. Do you have some data sheets with you?

Jack: Thanks. Not with us. Here's my business card. I think we can get Bob to bring some data sheets by, if that's okay.

Takashi: That would be fine. Or maybe I can get around to your booth a little later, when my relief comes.

Marcy: That sounds great. Oh, look at the time. Guess we have to go. See you around later on.

Takashi: Okay, take care.

Jack: You, too.


duking it out -- 力試し

One of the students in the local Free Missionary English Class gave me a list of words she wanted to see examples of several months back. So I made up a story using all the words.


Nishidani Sensei looked out the window at the playground as she walked down the hall. A commotion in a shady corner drew her attention. In the shadows she could see two children swinging their fists at each other.

[playground: いわゆる「グランド」の「プレイグラウンド」]
[shady: 日陰の良い]
[fist: 拳、げんこつ]

She looked back to the staff room and sang out, "Riku and Kenta are duking it out in the corner again!". Not bothering to change from her indoor shoes, she shot out the door like lightening. Several teachers and the headmaster spilled out of the staff room and followed her.

[duke: 公爵]
[duke it out: 殴りあう(公爵のように男らしく?)]
[like lightening: (雷のように素早く)]
[spill out: (漏れだすように)ぞろぞろと出てくる]

As Ms. Nishidani approached the boys, they stopped fighting and turned to face the teachers. Then Kenta threw a blatant punch and struck Riku in the back, knocking him down.
[approach: 近づく]
[blatant: 明確な(違反など)]
[knock down: 倒す]

"Kenta, that was not called for," she said, in a voice low and easy, helping Riku up.
[not called for: 求められていない、するわけがない(呼び起こされていない)]

"Well, he hit me first!" was Kenta's retort.
[retort: 言い返し、逆襲]

Riku didn't say anything, only avoided Ms. Nishidani's eye's.
[avoid: 避ける(さける・よける)]

"Both of you stop that right now!" shouted Headmaster Mabuchi, who then looked surprised that they had already stopped. The rest of the teachers looked a little non-plussed as they turned around and headed back to the staff room. Children began to gather, but Mr. Mabuchi waved them back. "Nothing to see here, back to your originally scheduled playing."
[non-plussed: 不満(そう)]
[wave {someone} back: 払い戻す]
[nothing to see: 見物するものが無い]
[originally scheduled: 元の予定に入った]

Ms. Nishidani checked both boys over and said, "Shall we go inside and talk?"
[check {someone} over: 様子を伺う、検査する]

Riku muttered something under his breath, and Kenta responded with muttering of his own.
[mutter: ブツブツ(文句)言う]
[under {his/her} breath: 声に(ほとんど)出さずに]
[of {his/her} own: 自分の]

Mr. Mabuchi said brightly, "Now, boys, just hold it for a few minutes 'til we've caught our breath and had a few minutes to sit in Ms. Teramoto's office."
[brightly: (cheerfully) 明るい気持ちで]
[hold it: (文句を抑えて)待っておく]
[catch {one's} breath: 一息つく]
[have a few minutes to {do something}: 何かをするための時間を取る]

"NO!" both boys exclaimed in unison. "Not Ms. Teramoto's office!"
[exclaim: 叫ぶ、感情を込めて言う]
[in unison: 同時に、一斉に]

"She'll make us listen to classical music!" exclaimed Riku.
[make {someone} listen to: (強制的に)聞かせる]

"She'll tell us what sweet, wonderful children we are!" cried Kenta.
[what sweet, wonderful {children}: どれほど可愛くて素晴らしくて気前の良い{子供}]

"No! Please!"

"I can't stand it!"
[stand {it}: {それを}耐える]

Ms. Nishidani and Mr. Mabuchi lead the pair into the school building, ignoring their repeated calls for help.
[ignore: 無視する]

And that's exactly what Ms. Teramoto did for the next half hour. And then she sent the boys back up to their classrooms, laughing and giggling, to where Ms. Nishidani was teaching the class arithmetic.
[exactly: ちょうど]
[giggling: クックと笑ったり]
[arithmetic: 算数]

"Dangit Kenta!"
[dang it: ダメだ(「damn」にちなんだ、それほどきつく感じのない無意味の、感情を訴える発言です。)]

"Yeah, Riku?"

"If we're not careful, Ms. Teramoto will come up and do a special math lesson."
[if {we} are not careful: 気をつけないと]
[do a {special} lesson: {特別な}レッスンを行う]

"Oh, man. If she does that, we're done for. She could make a guy like long division."
[Oh, man.: お前。(これも特に意味ない感情を訴える発言です。)]
[{we're} done for: {我々は}もう、終わりだ]
[make {someone} like {something}: {人}が{何かを}好むように(魔法を掛けるように)する、好きにさせる、好ませる]

"Yeah. Maybe we should quit calling each other names for a while."
[call {someone} names: 「悪い名前を使って{人}を呼ぶ」こと、つまり「悪い名前をつける」ことで悪口を言う]
[quit {somethng} for a while: しばらくの間{何か}を止める]

"No way, Division Head!"
[division head: 割り算頭、分裂頭]

"Well, oh, yeah, ya square root!"
[square root: 四角い根、つまり平方根(ルート)]

"What's a square root?"

"I dunno, something my brother said."
[dunno: "don't know"]

"Let's ask Ms. Nishidani," Kenta said as they entered the classroom.

"Hello, boys, are you feeling better, now?" asked Ms. Nishidani.
[feeling better: 気分が良くなった]

"I guess," said Riku. "Uhm, what's a square root? Is it some kind of a potato?"
[I guess {so}.: そうかもわからない。]
[uhm: エエっと]
[some kind of {something}: 何らかの{何か}]

"Now, there's a blatant attempt to disrupt the class. Where did you hear that?"
[attempt: 試み、企て、企み]
[disrupt: 途絶させる、騒がす、混乱を起こす]
[Where did you hear that?: どこでそんなこと(言葉)を聞いたの?]

"Riku called me one."
[call {someone} {something}: {人}を{何かだ}と名付ける]

"After he called me Division Head."

"Now, the both of you," Ms. Nishidani shook her head, suppressing the laugh that would have stopped the lesson dead in its tracks, "sit down and get out your math text books. It just so happens we are studying about squares today. After we understand those, I'll tell you a little about square roots. Okay, class?"
[the both of you: 君たち、ふたりとも]
[suppress: 抑える]
[would have {done something} {to something}: {何かに}{何かを}やったでしょう。]
[stop {something} dead in its tracks: {ものを}たったまま殺すように、止めてしまう]
[get out {something}: {何かを}取り出す]
[It just so happens (that) {something}.: 偶然に、{何か}]
[square: (四角の平方面積にちなんで)二乗]
[tell {someone} a little {bit} about {something}: ちょっと教えてあげる]

"Okay, Ms. Nishidani." The students sang out in unison, but not with great enthusiasm.
[enthusiasm: 元気、意気込み]

And the two boys sat down and looked for their math books while the other students returned a little disappointedly to their textbooks.
[look for: 探す]
[disappoint: がっかりする(させる)]
[a little disappointedly: ちょっとがっかりして(「ちょっとがっかりを受けた」、という感じ)]

[Japanese notes finished on the 14th. 解釈は14日に終わった。]


Hey, What about me? -- へい!俺って、どうしたの?

What About Me? is the name of Anne Murray's first album, back from the mid 1960s.

The title track, written by Scott McKenzie (Philip Wallach Blondheim) is sometimes listed as "Hey! What About Me?"

It came up a couple of nights back in a company class I'm teaching. One of the students wanted help understanding the difference between "What about ...?" and "How about ...?"
先日のビジネス英会話のクラスにこの曲が出てきたのです。その参加者の一人は "What about ...?" と "How about ...?" の違いの説明を聞きたかったようです。

Well, she actually understood the difference, but a friend of hers had used one where she would have expected the other.

Yeah, it happens a lot. People don't use language by the rules in the real world, but that's a rant for some other time.

In this post, I'm going to try to give some examples to show which we use where.

The lyrics to the song are one good example:
Hey, what about me?
I've got some feelings on my mind, too.
Hey, what about me?
I'd like to have a song to sing to.
Translated to a female singer's point of view (maybe) in Japanese:
Hmm, maybe I shouldn't pretend to read Ms. Murray's mind.

Contrast this to "How About Me?", an Irving Berlin (Israel Isidore Beilin) tune sung by Ella Fitzgerald, among others:
It's over, all over,
and soon somebody else
will make a fuss about you,
but how about me?
Let's try a crude translation of this, as well:
While "What about me? would work in this phrase, there is a difference.
この歌詞では "What about me?" でもいけたかも知りませんが、意味がちょっと違います。

We can imagine Anne Murray standing up, waving her arms and singing, "Attention, please! I want a song, too!" And we can imagine Ella singing, "I have your attention now, please say good things about me one more time."

"What about me?" is a request for attention. "How about me?" is a request for continued attention.
"What about me?" とは、注目の要求です。 "How about me?" とは、既にこちらへ向けて見て頂いているのに、意見の要求です。

"What about me?" is a request for selection. "How about me?" is a request for evaluation.
"What about me?" とは、選択の要求です。 "How about me?" とは、評価の要求です。

Examples, examples. The Rakuten Golden Eagles won their league today. One could say,
How about those Golden Eagles?
Aren't they playing good baseball?
To which, another could say,
What about the Tigers?
They're still in the race for the penant, aren't they?
In the first case, Rakuten is somewhat of a topic for the day. "How about...?" asserts an evaluation.
前方の発言では楽天は既に今日の話題の一つです。 "How about ...?" はここで評価を記しているのです。

In the second case, the topic is being switched (back?) to Hanshin. "What about ...?" asserts a selection.
後方の発言は話題を阪神に切り替えています。(戻しているかも知りません。) "What about ...?" は選択を指摘しています。

What else?

Say I visit your house.
You: How about a cup of tea?

Me: No thanks. But I wouldn't mind some water, please.

You: Water? How about orange juice?

Me: I hate to be picky, but is it 100 percent? I can't drink refined sugars.

You: Sugar? What about the fruit sugars in 100 percent juice?

Me: They are closer to the natural state, and I can drink a little.
You: お茶いかがですか?

Me: 申し訳ありませんが、水にしていただけませんでしょう?

You: 水ですか?オレンジジュースならどうですか?

Me: 注文の多い人になりたくないのですが、百パーセントですか?生成された糖分はいただけないのです。
You: 糖分ですか?百パーセントなら果糖がありますが、それはどうですか?問題ありません?

Me: 自然のままに近いので少しは飲めます。
In the first case, you are making a suggestion and asking for a response. In the second, you are pointing something out and asking for a response.

One more example. Let's go to a clothing store, maybe a boutique, looking for sweaters.
Salesperson: I think you would look good in this style of sweater. What do you think?(似合うと思いますが)

You: No thanks, I don't want a high neck.(首はきつすぎる)

Salesperson: Okay, we have a similar construction in a V-neck style. How is this one?(似た作りのVネック)

You: Well, I don't care for hot pink.(激ピンクは趣味じゃない)

Salesperson: How about aquamarine?(海の色は?)

You: Great! It's perfect! But what about the price? I see it's marked at 20,000 yen.(価格はなにか出来ません?)

Salesperson: Make me an offer.(どれぐらい考えていますか?)

You: How about 5,000 yen?

Salesperson: Well, make me a serious offer.(真面目に考えていただけません?)

You: 10,000 yen?

Salesperson: Maybe. Let me ask my manager.(マネージャーのほうに確認させていただきます。)
Okay, this is all I have time for today. Just remember, these are not hard set rules. In many cases either one could be used.