5

I was discussing with my Japanese friend about the meaning of 「しわ寄せ」, and none of us could come up with a way to say it in English. As far as I know, it could have several meanings. The first few of which can be easily translated as "to foist upon" or "to shift", with the meaning of forcing something onto somebody else. There is another meaning, however. Take these lyrics for example:

人前ではやさしく生きていた

しわよせで こんなふうに雑に・・・抱きしめてた

The general intention is that the action 「抱きしめる」 happened as a result(sort of backlash, or recoil) of 「人前で優しく生きる」. What's a good way to say translate this nuance to English?

5

[人前]{ひとまえ}ではやさしく[生]{い}きていた

しわよせで こんなふうに[雑]{ざつ}に・・・[抱]{だ}きしめてた

First of all, one needs to understand (and appreciate) that this usage of 「しわよせ」 would only colloquially be "correct". For that reason, a dictionary definition of the word would probably fail in this particular context.

Next, one needs to notice the antonymy between the words 「やさしく」("gently") and 「雑に」("in a rough manner") because that serves as a big hint as to what 「しわよせ」 could mean here.

To get right to the point, 「しわよせ」 is used to mean "side effect", "counteraction", "adverse reaction", etc. here.

In public, the speaker is known to "live gently", but when he is alone with his girl, he holds her in a rather rough manner.

6

The very literal meaning of しわ寄せ is "gathered wrinkles", although only a few people use this term in this literal sense (Shirring is sometimes called しわ寄せ(加工)).

To understand しわ寄せ, suppose you are ironing a dress. It's difficult to iron out the wrinkles perfectly; you iron somewhere, and a new wrinkle appears somewhere else. That's the idea of しわ寄せ; you strain yourself and do good things somewhere, but as a result, something bad happens somewhere else.

Now let's take a look at the lyrics (whole lyrics here). I would say the lyrics of this song are vague and abstract overall, but the first part is relatively easy to understand:

言葉にできず凍えたままで
人前ではやさしく生きていた
しわよせで こんなふうに雑に
雨の夜にきみを抱きしめてた

The person ("ぼく") has behaved like a gentle person everywhere else, but that must have been stressful to him. In front of "きみ", he couldn't behave kindly any more (雑に here means "not courteously", "crudely"). So this しわよせ is used in the most basic and common sense of the word. Can you see, throughout the lyrics, that ぼく has been taking a bit harsh attitude toward きみ?

EDIT: That said, しわよせ is not commonly used for something happening only in the internals of one person. This しわよせで may be replaced with 反動で (as a counter-reaction/rebound), although I'm not sure if these are suitable for lyrics.

  • +1 for your explanation of 反動. The singer should've used a different word, such as "むくいで”, "自身の錆{さび}で” etc, etc.. – Kentaro Jun 13 '16 at 5:04
2

As I'm not a lyricist, nor know the full context of the song, I don’t know the meaning of “こんなふうに雑に.” Did the singer live a rough life? Was he or she treated roughly? Or has he/ she grown into a rough character? And I don’t know what the singer hugged.

But I surmise the line in question is singing something like this:

I’ve tried to be amiable to others and to live mildly in the world. And as a repercussion, I feel roughness like this … I hugged it tightly.

With that said, "しわよせ/皺寄せ," of which literal translation is "gathering wrinkles," means “under the pressure,” “as a repercussion,” “(negatively) as its consequences,” for examples;

アベノミクスのしわ寄せで、収入格差が大きくなった - As a result of Abenomix, the jaw of the revenue gaps among classes is opening wider.

不景気の上に長年の放漫経営のしわ寄せで会社がついに破産した – The lax management for years coupled with depression, the company went bankrupt eventually.

2

I think personally the original Japanese sentence itself sounds a bit strange...しわ寄せ, as the linked Weblio says,

他からの悪影響で被害を被るさま

feeling or receiving the unwelcome or bad impact due to the action or the result of others' or other's conduct or behaviors etc etc.

whereas, the Japanese in your quote

人前ではやさしく生きていた

しわよせで こんなふうに雑に・・・抱きしめてた

sounds he or she is or was always trying to show his/her face nicely to everybody so that...しわよせで

and he or she him/herself caused the "cause" that the using the word しわよせ sounds strange to me.......

Thanks.

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.