Saturday, March 30, 2019

gyaku 逆

WIP: this article is incomplete and might change in the unforeseeable future.
In Japanese, gyaku 逆 means "reverse" or "opposite." Besides being used as a noun sometimes, it's also used as a prefix for things that are reverse. Its kanji can also be read as saka 逆, the meaning remaining the same.

For example, when someone says something, but:
  • sono gyaku da
    その逆だ
    It's the opposite of that.
    • Literally "that's opposite," but the "'s" is in the possessive sense.


Sometimes it's used adverbially:
  • gyaku ni 逆に
    Oppositely.

The phrase gyaku ni is used when the statement before it was expected to lead to a certain result, but actually ends up leading to the opposite of what was expected. For example:
  • bijin-sugite gyaku ni motenai
    美人すぎて逆にモテない
    Exceedingly beautiful person, oppositely: isn't popular.
    • She's so beautiful guys aren't romantically interested in her.
    • Normally, you'd expect a beautiful girl to have lots of guys interested in her. But in this case, she's so beautiful her beauty has the opposite effect: nobody is interested in her.
    • Because they think she's out of her league, or is unapproachable, or something like that.
  • atarimae sugite gyaku ni kidzukanai当たり前すぎて逆に気づかない
    So obvious oppositely attention doesn't attach to it.
    • It was so obvious that I ended up not noticing it.
  • yasashi-sa wa gyaku ni aite wo kizu-tsukeru
    優しさは逆に相手を傷つける
    Kindness oppositely hurts the other person.
    • Being kind to someone can hurt them, rather than helping them.
    • Normally you'd expect kindness to help.

    Sometimes, that adverb gyaku ni shows up at the start of phrases. For example:
    • gyaku ni ieba 逆に言えば
      gyaku ni iu to 逆に言うと
      If speak oppositely.
    • gyaku ni kangaereba 逆に考えれば
      gyaku ni kangaeru to 逆に考えると
      If think oppositely.

    Such phrases work like "conversely" in English. They're used when someone says something, and then someone else says: "conversely, you could say/think that..."
    • anime ni kyoumi ga aru
      アニメに興味がある
      To anime, there's interest.
      • I have interest in anime.
    • gyaku ni ieba, sore igai ni kyoumi ga nai
      逆に言えば、それ以外に興味がない
      If speak oppositely, to other than that, there's no interest.
      • Conversely, you could say that I have no interest in anything but anime.
      • Or rather, I have no interest in anything but anime.


    Note that although gyaku ni literally means what goes after it should be the opposite of what came before it, many times people use it to say something that's not completely opposite. That is, simply to introduce another way to see a same fact. So it works just like "or rather, you could say that..." in English.

    The word gyaku is also as a prefix in a number of compound words:
    • gyaku-kouka 逆効果
      Reverse effect.
      • kouka 効果
        Effect.
    • gyaku-shuu 逆襲
      Counter-attack.
      • osou 襲う
        Attack
    • gyakuten 逆転
      Reversal.
      • The moment in which something turns around.
      • For example: Gyakuten Saiban 逆転裁判, literally "judgement of reversals," judgement as in a trial, is the Japanese for the game Ace Attorney, in which the odds are always stacked against the protagonist, a lawyer, who has to somehow use evidence and testimonies to reach a "reversal," so his client will go from being seen as guilty to being seen as innocent.
      • tenjiru 転じる
        To turn. (toward another direction.)
        To shift.
      • tenjite 転じて
        Shifting. (often used when saying one word shifted into another word. e.g. kawaisou, "pitiable," was tenjite'd from kawaii, "cute.")
    • gyakuten-gachi 逆転勝ち
      Victory by reversal.
      • Winning after a game-changing point. Turning the tables.
      • katsu 勝つ
        To win. (the g of gachi is rendaku.)

    The gyaku prefix is also used in terms where genders become reversed. This is specially happens with some anime terms. For example:
    • nanpa ナンパ
      Guys hitting on girls.
      • gyaku-nanpa 逆ナンパ
        Girls hitting on guys. (e.g. nikushokukei)
    • haaremu ハーレム
      Harem. Anime genre where one guy is surrounded by girls who are his potential romantic interests.
      • gyaku-haaremu 逆ハーレム
        Reverse harem. Anime genre where one girl is surrounded by guys who are her potential romantic interests.
    • ryona リョナ
      Scenes featuring violence against women in games, anime, etc.
    • otokonoko 男の娘
      "Trap": a male character that looks like a girl.
      • gyak (wait, no.)
      • onnanoko 雄んなの子
        Reverse trap: a female character that looks like a guy.
      • Well, turns out it isn't always the same pattern.

    Some examples with the saka 逆 reading:
    • sakarau 逆らう
      To go against [someone or something].
      • ore wo sakarau ki ka?!
        俺を逆らう気か?!
        Do you intend to go against me?!
    • sakanoboru 遡る(逆上る)
      To go back in time.
      • Used when talking about past events: "first, let's go back, sakanoboru, to 1980, that's when everything started." You'll see this verb used in narration a lot.
    • sakasama 逆さま
      Upside-down.
      • Sakasama no Patema サカサマのパテマ
        Patema Inverted. (is an anime movie about Patema, who's upside-down.)

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