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Snaggletooth – 八重歯

Here’s a little word that you may have not heard before, but you’ve more than likely *seen* it. I mean, you do spend all day looking at Japanese idols, right?

八重歯 (やえば) is the Japanese word for ‘snaggletooth’, ‘double tooth’ or ‘crooked teeth’. Made up of 3 kanji – ‘8’ ‘layers’ of ‘teeth’. Of course, yaeba aren’t really 8 layers on top of the original teeth! They are merely double layered, and usually it is the canines that stick out. Here’s one very famous idol called Sawajiri Erika, proudly showing off her one yaeba.

Ahem, when you’re done saving the picture… Okay, so what’s the deal with yaeba in Japan? In Western countries like the UK and US, yaeba are almost exclusively seen as crooked teeth – that is, something to be fixed. Children go to the orthodontist to wear braces to correct the alignment of their teeth, or if you were unlucky like myself, you might have to have teeth removed. The end result though, is that there is more space in the mouth for the teeth to grow, avoiding the unwanted yaeba effect.

But in Japan, yaeba are actually something of a charm point, especially among girls. Consider the next explanation:

欧米では、唇の間からのぞく八重歯はドラキュラの牙を連想させ、醜いと言われ、小さいうちに矯正されることが多い。

おうべいでは、 くちびるのあいだから のぞく やえばは ドラキュラの きばを れんそうさせ、 みにくいといわれ、 ちいさいうちに きょうせいされる ことがおおい。

In the West, teeth that stick out from between the lips remind people of Dracula’s fangs and are considered ugly, so many people get their teeth corrected from a young age.

Some good Japanese here to get stuck into. のぞく means to ‘peek out’ or to ‘stick out’. What is peeking out? The のぞく八重歯 – the sticking out canines. That’s right, here yaeba would simply be ‘teeth’ or perhaps ‘canines’ in the translation. We wouldn’t want to say something awkward like ‘the sticking-out teeth’. Not all Japanese words can be mapped to English ones, and vice-versa. 牙 (きば) is the word for fang, or tusk. Context tells us a lot – fangs, right? Or else Dracula had suddenly managed to make his mouth much bigger to accommodate tusks!

連想 (れんそう) is the association or suggestion of ideas and させる is the causative from of する. So, we’re ‘causing the association of ideas’, or more appropriately, the yaeba are. Yaeba make us think of Dracula fangs! Argh! To finish, there is 矯正される – the passive form. Something is ‘to be done’. What is to be done exactly? The correcting of teeth! Many people have their teeth corrected.

Let’s take a lot at the sentence following that:


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8 Responses to Gakuu. Studying with Real Japanese

  1. Sabrina September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This is pretty cool! Right now I’m studying on Textfugu which is great! I belive Gakuu can be really helpul too. What I like most is that its for pre-intermediate to advanced level students. So you can’t say its the same thing over and over again… students can actually improve their knowledge here. Thank you very much for creating this site. Have a nice day :)
    -Sabrina

    • Gakuranman September 30, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      Hi Sabrina! Thank you for your comment :).

      That’s definitely our aim. I love Textfugu for beginners and really getting students a solid grounding in the language, but afterwards (and even while) studying the basics, it can really help to encounter raw Japanese material. You don’t have to understand everything at first, but feeling challenged and picking up little bits here and there that are extra to your learning the basics helps expand your mind. Let me know if you have any more questions! More demonstration material will be up soon! We are currently having a special launch sale price for early adopters, so check out the pricing page if interested :).

      • Sabrina September 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. :) Unfortunately I’m even still miles away from the intermediate level. But I’ll definetly return to Gakuu when I get to this point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the extra demonstration material. :) Keep up the good work.

        • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 12:21 am #

          Sure thing :). Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions for things you’d like to see on Gakuu!

  2. missingno15 October 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    When I looked at this, I first thought to myself, “aw hell no, gakuranman is doing the same thing as koichi…even the website layout is similar”. But then I realized “it’s aimed at pre-intermediate to advanced level students” which is perfect for my situation right now because I now really want to excel way past beginner. So basically, Gakuu really complements Textfugu. Can’t wait for more lessons to see how this is gonna be like so I can decide if its worth getting.

    • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hey there! Thanks for dropping by :). No way – Koichi and I are buds. I’ve always loved teaching the more advanced stuff so it worked out perfectly. I’ll be adding more stuff in the coming days, so please stay tuned!

  3. DumbOtaku (percent20) October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    This is really cool. I am glad to see more online content going beyond just teaching hirigana and katakana. That is what I try to do on my blog, but with to little consistency. Glad to see an expert do it, btw already a signed-up paid member now. :)

    • Gakuranman October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Glad to have you man! Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have for the site and future lessons :)

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