August 30, 2013

海底ニ万里の意味:Meaning of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

When this song came from radio, my daughter challenged me if I could tell the meaning of "out of my league."   I guessed 'out of reach,' then she said, 'it's like an average guy asking out a popular girl. There isn't much hope 'cause the girl is out of his league.'  Hmnnnn... teenage thingy.

Later I found this quite intriguing answer on Yahoo!Answers;
It can mean "out of safe water," a pun on traveling under water - the title of the classic novel, "20,000 Leagues under the Sea," means 20 times the radius of the Earth; one league today equals 4 km or 3 nautical miles.  But the term is in modern terms much more taken from sports, which in baseball is broken up into categories such as: Little League, the minors, the Majors. - frederic-kahler
What!?  "20 times the radius of the Earth"!?   That'll get you all the way through into outer space!

We need spaceship to go 20,000 leagues under the sea

So, I checked Wikipedia;
The title refers to the distance traveled while under the sea and not to a depth, as 20,000 leagues is over six times the diameter of Earth. The greatest depth mentioned in the book is four leagues.
Oh, OK...I got it (I'm glad I'm not alone).  'Les mers' in the original title is plural, implying you travel across seven seas.  

Definition of Lieu, League, and Li

It's also cool to know that Jules Verne's definition of lieu was 4km, 'cause Japanese translators have had no clue what he meant and translated it into every possible way, i.e. 20,000 miles, 20,000 li, 20,000 nautical miles, 60,000 mile, 120,000 km and so on.

All agreed on this; it's a looooooong long distance.   As in 'the long wall of 10,000,' even Jules Verne wouldn't really know how long that would be.

If that's 4 km (as specified on Book 2 Chapter 7), it's pretty close to Japanese 'li (3.927 km).'  In Japan, li (里) means the distance you can walk in about an hour.  Just a coincidence?   I went back to Wikipedia;
The league originally referred to the distance a person could walk in an hour.
OMG!  It's exactly the same definition!  The real question is; why Japanese li is much shorter than French lieu!!!?   Why?  hahaha.

As a side note, the meter was originally defined by French as one/ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the north pole along the Paris meridian.  You go all around the Earth vertically and divide the distance by 40,000,000, then you get 1 meter.

As a side note2, Jules Verne's novel was published in 1870 before the world chose the Greenwich meridian as the Prime Meridian (1884)....OK, OK, I'll stop here.  You'll have a great weekend.

夕べラジオからこの歌が流れてきたら娘が「Out Of My Leagueってどういう意味か知ってる?」って聞くので「Out of reach?」と答えたら、「並みの子がモテる子と付き合いたいって思ってもリーグ違うから所詮ムリって意味」なんだってさ。ひんでぇ…

「安全水域の外」って意味もあるよ、古典小説のタイトルのもじりでね。因みにあの「20,000 Leagues under the Sea(海底二万リーグ)」は地球半径の20倍で、1リーグは今でいう4km、3海里だ。まあでも今はスポーツのリーグの意味で使うことの方が多いかもね。野球もリトルリーグ、マイナーリーグ、メジャーリーグにわかれてるように。 まだまだってことさ。- frederic-kahler
ちょっとちょっとモテ度リーグより、リーグって距離の単位だったんか!!!!? そっちにびっくり。


それにしても「地球半径の20倍(実際は12倍)」って中心突っ切って宇宙まで行っちゃうじゃん!そんなバカな!!!! と思ってWikipediaを見たら、こうあった。

というわけで二万里と言われてもピンとこなくて「ひどく深いところまで潜る潜水艦の物語」だと思ってるみなさん(英語圏にも大勢)、それ違うんでよろしくよろしく。水平距離。原題は「Vingt mille lieues sous les mers」で海は複数形、七つの海を渡るって意味らしい。



…里と定義一緒やんけ! 近くて当たり前! むしろなんで日本だけ短いのよって話だった。笑





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