There is a proverb as follows.

The mirror is (intentionally) broken due to his/her ugly face.

More precisely, the mirror is broken by the user right after the user knows that her/his face is (so) ugly. Literally it is used to refer to one who blames other innocent one because of his/her own mistake.


Which one should I use in Japanese? Passive or Active form?

  • A: 顔が悪くて、鏡を割る。
  • B: 顔が悪くて、鏡が割られる。

Bonus: Is there a proverb in Japanese with the same meaning?

  • 2
    "Is there a proverb in Japanese with the same meaning?" How about [堂]{どう}が[歪]{ゆが}んで[経]{きょう}が[読]{よ}めぬ ?
    – Chocolate
    Nov 21 '16 at 23:54

I would prefer A.

Since a passive form typically makes the actor ambiguous, B has no nuance of "intentionally by the user."

A similar phrase in Japanese is [責任転嫁]{せきにんてんか}, though it is not a kind of proverb ([諺]{ことわざ}) but a four-character idiom ([四字熟語]{よじじゅくご}). I couldn't find an exact proverb. cf. discussion here.

Side Note: I at first imagined a situation that a mirror is broken by itself because it could not bear reflecting such an ugly face. It seems to me that, regarding breaking mirrors, this situation might be more familiar to the Japanese.

  • So if I want to say "don't blame other innocent people because of your own mistake", can I say '責任転嫁しないでください? Nov 21 '16 at 18:37
  • 1
    Exactly. 責任転嫁はやめてください is also fine. Nov 21 '16 at 18:43

The mirror is (intentionally) broken due to his/her ugly face.

My attempts are:

  1. 醜{みにく}い顔なので鏡を(叩{たた}き割る
  2. この鏡だと醜い顔に映るので鏡を(叩き)割る。
  3. 醜い顔を鏡のせいにして鏡を(叩き)割る。

    • An "ugly face" is usually translated into 「醜{みにく}い顔」.
      By the way, a famous fairytale "THE UGLY DUCKLING" is trasnlated as 「みにくいアヒルの子」

    • According to dictionaries "intentionally" is defined as 故意{こい}に, わざと or 敢{あ}えて, but I translated it as 叩{たた}き in 叩き割る because 叩き割る has a connotation of "breaking up something in pieces with showing or expressing one's violent anger".

    • The first attempt is a literal translation. The second attempt is a translation expressing the angry feelings of the lady(?) who broke the mirror. The behavior might be called "八つ当たり to take out on (the mirror) or to vent one's anger on (the mirror)". The third attempt is a so-called 責任転嫁.

  • (つかぬことを伺いますが)「鏡にうつる」場合は「写る」ではなく「映る」にように思うのですがどっちでもいいんでしょうか・・(手元の国語辞典を見ると一応「鏡に映る」のほうが載ってますが)
    – Chocolate
    Nov 28 '17 at 8:00
  • @Chocolate: ありがとうございます。早速修正致します。
    – mackygoo
    Nov 28 '17 at 8:08

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