Monday, 22 February 2010

The day's schedule: 教務だより: 凡事徹底

Coming into school this morning, I was greeted as usual by a resounding canon of ohayougozaimasu from vice principle & co. and also, as per usual, by a sheet of paper on my desk with the heading 教務だより (kyoumu-dayori) the school's daily schedule. Every day, these are filled with both useful and cryptic messages authored by the movers and shakers of Matsubushi Junior High, foremost among them, the head master. I normally begin the day by taking out my electronic dictionary and decoding the information. 「今日の予定」や「明日の予定」や「本日の出張」など、そういうものを。It is usually quite boring stuff, made up of groups of kanji with very little or no kana. It is, after all, a bulletin, so brevity is to be expected. For a student of Japanese it is often joyless work, slogging through onyomi and kunyomi, trying to elucidate some meaning from the funny squiggles. Today's schedule, for example, reads, simply, 3年期末テスト(1日目: ①数学②理科③国語④音楽美術) and 企画委員会(15:20-: 会議室) which indicate, respectively, that 3rd year students have their finals today in four subjects (quite important, I suppose) and that from 3:20pm there will be a planning committee meeting in the conference room, and I'm not really sure what goes on in those. I mean, I'm not exactly in a rush to find out what they talk about. Probably quite boring, I should imagine.

In a more exciting part of the schedule, near the bottom, was a 四字熟語, a four kanji aphorism, 「凡事徹底」, which reads bon-ji-tet-tei. I tapped away at my dictionary but to no avail. The term is apparently not in common use. I then googled 「凡事徹底 意味」 and my search bore fruit. According to quite a few blogs, the phrase means: 当たり前のことを当たり前のように徹底して行うことです, that is, natural things should be performed in a thoroughly natural way; which, in normal English, I suppose means, what is expected of you should be performed in a way that is second nature. A little more searching through blogs and company profiles who have used the phrase in some capacity brought me to this website where the company in question specifies, 私達にとって当たり前のこととは、お客様に満足していただくことお取引先に信頼していただくことです, that is, "For us, what you would call a natural thing is a customer's satisfaction, or a business partner's trust." So, for that company, those things must be, like, a priori, or axiomatic.

The aphorism has, on the school bulletin, been put in a little box and set apart from the rest of the notices. There is another little box near-by which also states the a priori 当たり前のこと of Matsubushi Junior High. These are: あいさつ, greetings; 服装, uniform; 朝の会, morning meetings; 帰りの会, meetings before going home; and 授業の充実, classroom fulfillment. The first four are disciplinary warnings; the teaching staff have to lay down the law, make sure things happen properly and stuff. The last is obviously telling us to make our lessons as interesting and educational as possible.

[Edit: I talk about the phrase 凡時徹底 again, later, here.]

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