sechan19: (butterfly)
[personal profile] sechan19
早起きは三文の徳 (はやおきはさんもんのとく) hayaoki wa sanmon no toku—
(lit. getting up early has a paltry worth)
the early bird catches the worm

The word "sanmon" (meaning paltry, worthless, or cheap) turns up in a lot of idiomatic phrases like the one above. Other notable phrases include "nisoku sanmon no" = dirt cheap, a mere song, small change, a bargain price; "sanmon shōsetsu" = a dime novel, a penny-dreadful; and "sanmon bunshi" = a literary hack, a pulp writer. I'm rather surprised to find it in an "early bird gets the worm" construction, as the phrase is meant to emphasize the value of getting out of bed early while use of the term "sanmon no toku" (paltry worth) seems to imply the opposite.

May 2014

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