Tokyo Bilingual & Bicultural

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working very hard

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There are Japanese teams 一所懸命 and 一生懸命.  One is pronounced ISSHO-KENMEI, and one is pronounced ISSHOU-KENMEI respectively.  懸命 (KENMEI)  means eagerness or earnestness. 一所 means one point, and 一生 means "for life".  Both 一所懸命 and 一生懸命 mean doing something very hard or usually mean working very hard.

一所懸命: ISSHO  -KENMEI (eagerness on one point)
一生懸命: ISSHOU-KENMEI (eagerness for life)

My Japanese language teacher  in Junior-high school taught me一所懸命 is the correct term.  He said it’s because you cannot work hard forever, but you must work very hard on one thing or one point at a time.  Since it made sense to me, I have been using一所懸命. 一生懸命 would mean work very hard for life, and you usually need some break .

However, both are in Japanese language dictionaries, and you can see them used pretty much equally.  It seems it’s okay to use one or another.

The same Japanese teacher was my homeroom teacher when I was in the first grade in the school.  I had to submit my summer study plan  to him.  It was a very relaxed plan, and he didn’t like it at all . He didn’t think I’d be successful in entering a good high-school with the relaxed plan.  Anyway, I resubmitted my new intense plan, and he accepted it.  After all, I didn’t do 一所懸命 (ISSHO KENMEI) in the summer, and I even didn’t meet my original plan .

Written by takaos

March 30, 2005 at 9:18 pm

Posted in English

One Response

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  1. thanks for defining the language. Helped me understand!


    December 23, 2009 at 6:38 am

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