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This usage of いさめる is from a sentence in Hunter x Hunter, where two characters are together and one of them [A] senses an enemy from the shadows about to attack them. The other character [B] asks why they were able to sense the enemy, and [A] explains how:

[A]わずかに漏れた殺気よ 。 敵は私達が子供なんで一瞬油断したんだわね 。
[B]油断してるなら弱いんじゃないの ?
[A]でもすぐに自分を諫めて気配を消した 。 わずかな殺気とそれを消した早さ … 。 結構手ごわいわね 。

[A]He let a tiny bit of bloodlust escape. The enemy saw a bunch of kids, and he relaxed for a second.
[B]Doesn't that mean he's weak?
[A]He immediately concealed his presence again. It was only the slightest bloodlust, and he quickly concealed it, so he's pretty good. [shows translation]

It seems like the verb いさめる is similar to the verb 戒める in that as a transitive verb it can broadly either mean to warn against the behavior of someone (marking the action), or to warn a person with the goal of not repeating a wrongdoing (marking the person). The usage here is not present in the translation, but if I were to infer I would translate it as so:

"...But he immediately admonished himself and hid his presence."

I understand that this means that he viewed letting his guard down as a mistake, which is part of いさめる.

But 1.) It seems that いさめる is mostly used in the context of warning a superior to not redo a mistake and 2.) Even putting that point to the side, I really do not think we use the word "admonish" like this in English. I guess I wonder what the "image" of "admonishing" yourself and instantly changing your behavior would even look like. We might say "pull yourself together" or something, but not really in the sense of warning yourself about recommitting a mistake. Is this usage from the show standard and if so how might it differ from English "admonish" or "warn against"?

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  • I think this should be 自分を戒めて.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 15 at 22:52
  • I listened to clip again and they said いさめて, and searching Google for ”自分を諌める” I do get around 40,000 responses (ik kanji is different). For example I found a usage from someone's blog: note.com/minemusic/n/n1175c4dd6a4d Apr 15 at 23:14
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    I believe it's a misuse of the word.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 16 at 1:14

1 Answer 1

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1.) It seems that いさめる is mostly used in the context of warning a superior to not redo a mistake

I don't think so. I've just noticed dictionaries say 諫める is mainly used towards one's superior. Looking at the BCCWJ, it indeed appears that it's used in reference to superiors or the government in roughly 50% of cases, and this is more true in historical contexts.

However, in reality, this verb can be used regardless of the listener's position, and there is no problem using it towards your friend, child or subordinate. Using いさめる towards oneself is not the most common usage, but there's nothing incorrect about it, either. (Note that 進言する is used exclusively towards someone superior.)

2.) Even putting that point to the side, I really do not think we use the word "admonish" like this in English.

I'm not sure how this specific verb is used in English, but 自分を諫める in Japanese sounds fine to me. 戒める can be used in this context as well. While 戒める can be broadly about self-discipline or concentration, 諫める is used only when there is a specific mistake. Since the enemy did make a mistake in this situation, the use of 諫める is natural, too.

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