The Thitherlands

Japanese is great! Today I was talking with my teacher about the word yo (世). In general, it means “world” as in yo no naka ni wa iro-iro na ningen ga histyou da (世の中にはいろいろな人間が必要だ, or “in this world, you need different sorts of people”*)

But then we got to the subject of ano yo (あの世), the afterlife, the world of the dead, literally “that world over there,” as opposed to kono yo (この世), the world of the living, literally, “this world.” Kono is something closer to you than the speaker (i.e. “this”), while ano is something far away from both the speaker and the listener (i.e. “that there,” or “yon”), but there’s another Japanese spacial deictic word — sono — for things closer to the listener than the speaker (i.e. “that”). Being the good student that I am, I asked if there was a sono yo (その世), which ought to mean “that world.” At first my teacher was like “I don’t think so” then she suddenly nodded! Hai! Sono yo wa yuurei no sekai da ne?  (その世は幽霊の世界だね) Yes! ‘That world’ is the world of ghosts.

So we got the world of the living (“The Hitherlands” one might say?), the afterlife or world of the dead (“The Yonderlands”), and a world between the two, close enough to touch but separate from us: the realm of ghosts. The Thitherlands.

I’d read the hell out of that fantasy trilogy, wouldn’t you?

*literally: “in the world, various people are necessary.” Gloss: “world ‘s middle in subject1 color-color ‘s human(s) subject2 necessary is.”

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