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Vocabulary is trickier than it seems. At first glance “baby” and “infant” seem pretty interchangeable. But if your girlfriend catches you in bed with another woman, explaining “Infant, you’ve got it all wrong. I only slept with her because I was lonely for you. You’re the only one for me, infant,” is just going to confuse her. Of course, using the more appropriate “baby,” even doing your best Barry White impersonation won’t change how this story ends, but at least your girlfriend will be able to understand your half-baked excuse before she dumps you.

When it comes to learning new words in a language other than your first, understanding the context is especially important. But as we’ve just seen, establishing a clear, unmistakable background story often necessitates a certain amount of dramatic flair. Japanese studiers of English have been taking to Twitter to share their favorite shocking example sentences from their electronic dictionaries.

For example, in what kind of setting would you use “break,” as in, “to tell someone something?” It’s pretty much only used when giving bad news, so how about something like this?

”Lay it on the line Roberta. Are you involved with someone else?”

I’m sorry, Howard, I didn’t know how to break it to you.”

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We especially like how the story avoids cookie-cutter names like Dick and Jane. There’s a definite realism at work here that makes us think the other man in this love triangle, the one who stole Roberta away from Howard, just might work as a dictionary editor in Japan.

Of course, it’s not just women who succumb to their carnal desires within dictionary’s soap opera. One student came across this example for how to say renai kankei, or a romantic relationship.

”Boku ha hissho to renai kankei ni atta n da.”

In English: “I had an affair with my secretary.”

Ooh lala! Such scandal!

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This is a pretty intense example, especially since it’s in the section of the dictionary marked ‘expressions to use in your daily life,’” commented its discoverer. We’re especially taken aback by the use of boku — a word for “I” generally used by young boys — and how it speaks to this precocious kid’s economic and romantic prowess in getting a secretary at such a young age and subsequently sleeping with her.

Romantic complications seem to be a popular theme, even when they’re not completely necessary to illustrate the word’s meaning. “By herself” is a pretty straightforward phrase, right? She went to Bali by herself. She lives by herself. Her friends were busy, so she ate dinner by herself. There, three examples, and I didn’t even break a sweat…well technically I was already sweating, but still, coming up with them wasn’t exactly a monumental task.

On the other hand, one editor went with this exchange:

Hey there, what’s a pretty girl like you doing by herself?”

”Leave me alone, you creep.”

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That’s some pretty direct usage right there.

Thankfully, not every relationship ends in tragedy or fails to get off the ground. The dictionary also contains declarations of undying devotion, such as this gem for the word “if.”

If the sun were to rise in the west, I would never forsake you.”

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Although, if we’re being picky, this guy is actually saying that when the sun rises in the east, he would forsake you, so there’s a definite possibility he’s the same guy who told us earlier about having an affair with his secretary.

Finally, we’ll sign off with this example for “neutralize.” Sure, they could have gone with something simple like “The antidote neutralized the toxin.” But with so many secrets, lies, and betrayals hidden away in these dictionaries, perhaps it was inevitable that it would all end like this:

You know too much. You must be neutralized.”

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We’d better get out of here before the Thought Police kick the door in. Study hard, everyone!

Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Good Job Power
Insert images: Twitter (via Naver Matome)