I was listening to a Japanese podcast (安住紳一郎{あずみしんいちろう}の日曜天国{にちようてんごく}) the other day, and there was this sentence (here's a link to an audio clip in case I made a mistake: http://vocaroo.com/i/s0Z63Vgl1t7F):


My attempt at a translation would be something along the lines of:

"It is hard to sense the difference between June and July. You feel like 'Huh, it's already July?'"

There are two words here, 段差{だんさ} and 理解知{りかいし}れない, whose meaning I'm not sure I understand. Checking the dictionary, 段差{だんさ} means either difference in grades (such as in martial arts) or height difference between two levels (like roads). Neither of those really fit this context in my opinion. As for 理解知{りかいし}れない, I could not find an entry for it in any dictionary. I would guess it is a combination of 理解{りかい} meaning "understand" and 知{し}れない meaning "not be able to understand easily", but I'm not really sure how you would combine those two meanings.

So, I would appreciate if someone could help me understand what 段差{だんさ} and 理解知{りかいし}れない mean in this context.

  • 1
    From the audio clip, I hear 理解【りかい】し得【え】ない rather than 理解知れない. – broken laptop Jun 7 '16 at 5:22
  • @broccoliforest 自分もさっき聞き直してて、そう思いました… – naruto Jun 7 '16 at 5:39
  • @broccoliforest You're right. That would indeed make more sense! Thank you! – RadonBust Jun 7 '16 at 5:42

Yes 段差 usually refers to the physical difference in level, but in this case it seems to refer to the (perceptual) gap between June and July. I don't think this usage of 段差 is common, though. 落差 is sometimes used metaphorically in this sense.

  • ナイアガラの滝の落差は55mだ。 (original meaning)
  • 彼は普段と怒っている時の落差が激しい。 (metaphorical)

I listened to the actual record you provided, and I think it's only the slip of the tongue of the speaker. Did you notice the short pause between 理解しれない and 部分が? That must be the pause where he thought for a moment if he should correct the error. Probably the speaker could not decide whether to connect another verb after 理解し… or simply say 理解できない, and he ended up saying 理解しれない, incidentally.

If we google, we can see there are a few people who actually used 理解知る. It seems to simply mean "know and understand". But it should be extremely rare, and I haven't seen or heard this verb compound before. You can just forget it.

EDIT: I checked the audio again and thought maybe he was saying 理解しえない (理解する + auxiliary verb 得る + ない = "impossible to understand"). This is a bit literary expression which doesn't appear often in speech like this.

  • Excellent answer! Thank you very much! So, 落差 is more commonly used in this context? Could you just simply replace 段差 with 落差 here? – RadonBust Jun 7 '16 at 5:36

I think your translation is correct! I feel the speakers choice of words 段差 and 理解知らない are unusual, but completely understandable by context. The unusual choice of words piques the listeners interest, providing some stimulation in what would otherwise be a very boring and mundane sentence. 「体感的にいうと、六月と七月の差はあまり感じないね。」 How boring! Who would want to listen to a sentence like that in a podcast. zzzzzzzzz

  • I was wrong, please vote me down as punishment. – Craig Hicks Jun 7 '16 at 7:25

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