Friday, November 13, 2009


When I started to learn English, I was fascinated by the word "dandelions". The Japanese language has a lovely word for this particular flower, namely "tampopo" (which became, by the way, the title for the popular film about noodles by Junzo Itami). The English denomination is alluring in a different way.

It was clear to me from the beginning that the word had something to do with "lions". I imagined that the expression referred to the mane of the male lion, as they are visually similar. Later, I learned that "dandelions" are literally "lion's tooth", where the "tooth" refers to the toothed leaves. Equipped with this knowledge then, I imagined a lion with its jaws wide open, the sharp teeth inside showing the pride of living.

Etymology is fascinating. Meanings are generated from layers of meanings. But then one is aware that the meanings of words are ultimately without reason.

On a field of significance without a bottom sways the yellow heads of dandelions. The sunbeams sprayed on their petals are enchanting messages from the cosmos which is fundamentally absurd.


kirai said...

In Spanish we say "Diente de león" where "diente"="tooth", "de"="of" and "león"="lion". In italian is very similar "Dente di leone", and also in French "Dient de lion".

(ma)gog said...

You started with this particular word "dandelions", by which you remember having been fascinated as a beginner of learning English.

Then you lead us to ponder over etymology which could agitate our imagination on the vast of its history.

Finally, we have been brought to this observation, the absurdness of
the cosmos.

Well, it is stimulating to try to reach your spirit as it flows!

Takuro said...

>I imagined that the expression >referred to the mane of the male >lion, as they are visually similar.

I inferred the derivation of the word just the same as Mogi-sensei. Probably many Japanese men share the same assumption, I think.

yuzu said...

It was surprised to know about the dandelions.
I won't forget that stimulative meaning.