CultureEssayEtymologyIdiomJapanese traditionProverbUncorrected

Mouth and Tongue

  • There are many idioms that use a part of a body in both English and Japanese.


    Today I found an interesting rule in such idioms.

    The rule is that Japanese idioms tend to use mouth, whereas English idioms tend to use tongue instead of mouth.

    For example, to say something unnecessary is expressed as “kuti ga suberu” (口が滑る – slip one’s mouth) in Japanese, wheares it’s expressed as “make a slip of the tongue” in English.

    Also, to be silent is expressed as “kuchi wo tsumugu” (口をつむぐ – hold one’s mouth), wheares it’s expressed as “hold one’s tongue” in English.
    例えば、うっかり余計なことを言ってしまうことを日本語では「口が滑る」と言いますが、英語では “make a slip of the tongue” (舌を滑らせる)と言います。

    Furthermore, to be careful in one’s speech is expressed as “kuchi no kikikata ni kiwotukeru” (口の利き方に気をつける -watch the usage of one’s mouth), whereas it’s expressed as “watch one’s tongue” in English (it seems also be expressed as “watch one’s mouth,” though).
    また、黙っていることを日本語では「口をつぐむ」と言いますが、英語では “hold one’s tongue” (舌を押さえる)と言います。

    I think that these are interesting differences.
    さらに、言葉遣いに気をつけることを日本語では「口の利き方に気をつける」といいますが、英語では “watch one’s tongue” (舌に気をつける)と言います。

    Original sentence