Monday, 1 March 2010

凡時徹底の由来は何か Where does Bon-ji-tet-tei come from?

Last month I wrote about this phrase, 凡時徹底, which appeared on my school's daily bulletin. Now, these four kanji compound idioms are fairly interesting; their origins are more often than not from Buddhist sutras or old Chinese classics, and it's quite fun if you can find out where they come from exactly.

With this one in particular though, I just couldn't seem to find any leads. All there was were blog entries or company profiles, giving wonderful definitions of the phrase and all saying what a great idiom it was, but with no references as to where it came from.

These two names though, イエロー・ハット(Yellow Hat) and 鍵山秀三郎 (Hidesaburō Kagiyama), kept cropping up everywhere. Yellow Hat Ltd. is a car accessories company, and Mr Kagiyama is its founder. Now, at first I thought it was just another company using it as a motto, but when I looked into it, it appears that Mr Kagiyama has actually written a book with the title 「凡時徹底」. All very well and good, I thought, this guy really loves this aphorism, he's gone and written a book about it. But on further investigation -- that is, after a lot more reading of bloggers gushing about how they will try very hard to do simple things well -- I found one blogger who was gracious enough to say this:

この言葉は、四字熟語ではなく、鍵山秀三郎氏がつくった造語だが、今や四字熟語のように感じる
This phrase is not a yojijukugo; it is a coinage of Hidesaburō Kagiyama's; though it feels like a yojijukugo.

I think I will conclude then that this particular yojijukugo (if indeed it is one. The blogger above, at least, seems to discount modern coinages) is a very recent one, first seen in print in 1994.

Here, to finish, is Mr Kagiyama's authoritative definition of 凡時徹底, and sub-title to his book:

平凡を非凡に勤める
Endeavour with the commonplace, extraordinarily.

4 comments:

  1. That seems like kind of a let-down! A fake yojijikugo. Although considering it comes from a business context, it's not surprising that it has permeated so deeply into the working world. Nice sleuthing

    ReplyDelete
  2. *Yojijukugo.

    Bah, typing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, I was kind of hoping it came from the I Ching or something...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I spoke to one of my fellow teachers at school today and I slyly asked her about this. She said she didn't know where it came from, but it must be from some Chinese classic or something. Little does she know...

    ReplyDelete