I was talking with a co-worker about my limited facility with Japanese and my interest in improving my facility with that language. During the course of our conversation, she mentioned a fascinating aspect of Japanese for expressing certain idioms or proverbs. That’s were I learned about yoji-jukugo (å››å—ç†Ÿèªž), which are idiomatic expressions made up of four kanji characters. These idioms are written only in kanji only and have no kana between them.
One such example would be the Japanese equivalent of the idiom, “two birds with one stone.” This is rendered as isseki nichou (ä¸€çŸ³äºŒé³¥) (literally, “one stone, two birds”). There are many more yoji-jukugo, many of which have similar versions in English (and many other languages besides).
The Chinese equivalent from which yoji-jukugo originate are called chengyu (æˆè¯). The same idiom above has a similar chengyu that translates as, “two birds, one arrow” (yÄ« jiÃ n shuÄng diÄo, written ä¸€ç®åŒé›•). Another one I like is sÄn rÃ©n chÃ©ng hÇ” (ä¸‰äººæˆè™Ž) (literally, “three men make a tiger“), which refers to how a repeated rumor may be erroneously accepted as truth.
There are lots of examples of these idioms including a chengyu of the day. You learn something new every day.