11

そういう訳で、診察所の方の人達と口を利くのはあたしだけといってよい位だったわ。そりゃああたしがお侠{きゃん}だからだけれども、先生の小間使いですもの、そりゃどうしたって診察所との交渉が多いわよ。ええ、こりゃ漢語よ。

甲賀 三郎 著 『ニッケルの文鎮』 青空文庫 No.1428

I could not understand the actual meaning of 「ええ、こりゃ漢語よ。」

According to some dictionaries, 漢語 just refers to a word originated in China / a Chinese word. It would not fit this context...

  • 1
    It fits the context perfectly. Hint: It is kinda like saying "Excuse my French!" in English. You did not have to use a French word to say that, do you? 「こりゃ」 refers to one of the words in the passage. Think about which one you might feel like addng a little "explanation" about it being a Chinese word JOKINGLY? (BTW I disagree with @snailboat's comment above.). – l'électeur Dec 17 '15 at 13:14
  • 2
    "Yes, I used that word in its Chinese sense!" みたいなことを言ってるのだろう、とは思いますが、そこから先は、勘で調べてみても全く分からないです…>< 一番怪しい気がするのは「交渉」(「男女間交渉」と「普通のビジネスの交渉」の両方の意味がある)ですが、正直わかりません。 – naruto Dec 17 '15 at 16:56
  • 5
    「交渉」という語について、わざわざ「漢語よ」と説明しているのは、この場合、ただの自慢ではないでしょうか。物語を読むと全体的に、明治〜大正期につくられた新しい言葉が多く使われています。交渉も比較的新しい言葉だったはずです。低学歴ながらも、高学歴の主人に仕えることで最新の知識を得ている彼女は、新しい言葉を知っていることが誇らしいようです。続けて彼女が、主人の家に住んでいるイケメン男子二人のことを話そうとすると、自慢げな話ぶりにいい加減うんざりした話し相手が、何かちゃちゃを入れたようでもありますし。 – HiruneDiver Dec 17 '15 at 22:20
  • 5
    新しいと言っても知識人の間では既に常識化していた語でしょうが、彼女やその話し相手のような生活の人々にとっては、まだ耳慣れない言葉だったのではないでしょうか。彼女は「漢語よ」と自慢げに言ってますが、実は漢語のことはよく知らないのでは。そんな、ちょっと背伸びした一言である「漢語」に思えました。 – HiruneDiver Dec 17 '15 at 22:21
  • 3
    This is an interesting discussion, but who posts an answer? – Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 20 '15 at 1:33
11

The whole passage of your quote can be translated as:

For that reason, it was almost only me who was able to speak to the people of the clinic. Though I admit I look a bit pert, I’m only a messenger girl of my master, and naturally have to deal with the doctors and staff of the clinic. It requires a bit of understanding of (medical) gibberish.

漢語 literally means Chinese language, but in a colloquial usage it means "difficult, technical words," because 漢文 was read and understood only by intellectual people in Meiji and Taisho era, not to mention earlier than those time.

In 永井荷風’s famous "墨東奇談” published in 1947, much later than this work, the heroine, Otsuru, a prostitute, whom the hero, Taneda, a school teacher describes as a beautiful crane among a bevy of chickens - 鶏群の一鶴 - tells him that her father was “an intellectual man who used to read “四角な文字” (square letters),” which means 漢字. You’ll understand that 漢字 looks square and Kana looks round in its shape.

There is also a Japanese word, チンプンカンプン meaning totally incomprehensible or nonsensical, which came from 珍文漢文 (ridiculous writing in Chinese language).

In net, 漢語 here means “gibberish” or Greek to laymen.

| improve this answer | |
  • This seems like a very convincing answer. I'm wondering why no one else came up with this interpretation -- is this colloquial usage of 漢語 old/rare? (『ニッケルの文鎮』 was published in 1926, after all...) – Darius Jahandarie Dec 28 '15 at 18:37
  • @DariusJahandarie. No. Although 漢語 is a standard counterpart to 'Chinese language' as Chinese, today's Japanese don't use this word. I've never read ニッケルの文鎮. But if it was published in 1926. It was the work in the junction of Taisho / Showa era, which is remote even from me, pre-WW II generation. the word, 漢語 is now obsolete. We use 中国語 instead. But it literally means Cinese language, not in the sense used in the OP's question. – Yoichi Oishi Dec 28 '15 at 22:08
  • 2
    医学の知識のない小間使いの彼女でも、診察所の人達と交渉するときは、それなりに漢語(ここでは専門用語の意)を用いていた、というアピールの「漢語よ」なんですね。この解釈ですと、物語の結末につながる伏線が、より分かりやすいものになります。作家の意図が、よりはっきり見えた気がします。勉強になりました。ありがとうございました。 – HiruneDiver Dec 29 '15 at 1:13
  • I am sorry I downvoted. There seems to be many mistakes in the link the questioner provided itself. – Kentaro Dec 29 '15 at 4:28
  • This might also be a good answer to japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/13816/… – Andrew Grimm Dec 29 '15 at 5:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.