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。]