Anything can be educational material if you want it to be.

In addition to bringing you the latest news on butt-warmers and sad cookies, we here at SoraNews24 also like to provide a community service by giving out tips on learning the Japanese language. From time to time we’ll show you the 11 different ways to say “father” or even more different ways to say “I.”

Today, however, the word we’ll be covering is “chinmoku” which means “silence.” Let’s say it all together now…

Very good.

At first it might sound kind of cute, like the word “chipmunk.” However, you should remember when saying the word to do so stoically, because much like the difference between “silence” and “quiet”, “chinmoku” or its adjective form “chinmoku no” (“of silence” / “silent”) tends to have a slightly more formal gravitas to it.

For example, you might experience an “unbearable silence” or “taegatai chinmoku.” Also, the “code of silence” practiced by the mafia, which they call “omertà,” is translated to Japanese as “chinmoku no okite.”

Once again, all together now…

▼ “Paulie’s brains would still be in his head if he stuck to the omertà.”

Okay! Great job!

While it’s clearly a lot of fun, you’d be right to assume it’s not the most useful word in everyday conversation. However, as we will see, chinmoku” is an absolutely indispensable tool to help expand your Japanese vocabulary, thanks to none other than Steven Seagal.

Bear with me, this will make sense by the end…

In Japan, Seagal’s first few films were either given approximate translations, such as Marked for Death (Shi no Hyouteki / literally Death Target) or straight katakana renderings, like Hard to Kill (Haado tsu Kiru). It wasn’t until Seagal’s 1992 masterpiece Under Siege that marketers in Japan started diverging from the source titles.

When Under Siege was released there was a popular manga and anime series called Chinmoku no Kantai (Silent Fleet, published as Silent Service in English) about a nuclear submarine hijacked by its own captain. A common practice in Japan is to replace the titles of foreign works with something more familiar to help it sell. So, Under Siege became Chinmoku no Senkan or “Silent Battleship.”

Japanese distributers must have been pleased with the results, because Seagal’s environmentally conscious 1994 follow-up On Deadly Ground was renamed Chinmoku no Yousai (Silent Fortress). This caused a bit of confusion among Japanese people who understandably mistook On Deadly Ground for a sequel to Under Siege.

▼ The success of these films, combined with Seagal’s own fluency in Japanese, also made him a natural for commercial work

The confusion only grew when the actual sequel Under Siege 2: Dark Territory came to Japan but was renamed Bousou Tokkyuu (Runaway Express). It was actually originally titled Chinmoku Dai 3-Dan: Bousou Tokkyuu but later shortened.

As we can see, learning another language can be quite complicated. It’s easy to burn out, so let’s take five and cool down by listening to Steven Seagal doing a cover of Robert Johnson’s classic “Dust My Broom.”

Okay, so to recap now that we’re all refreshed: Under Siege was the first chapter of the Chinmoku series, followed by its sequel-but-not-really On Deadly Ground. Under Siege 2 was originally declared a Chinmoku film but was later disavowed.

Some, but not all, of Seagal’s subsequent theatrical releases were added to the Chinmoku anthology. These were:

Fire Down Below
Chinmoku no Dangai / Silent Cliff

The Patriot
Chinmoku no Inbou / Silent Conspiracy

Chinmoku no Terorisuto / Silent Terrorist

However, shortly after the turn of the 21st century Seagal pivoted heavily to straight-to-video releases and became far more prolific as a result. These, along with his television shows, all made their way to Japan as well.

As the markers of Alien vs Avatar or Armageddon of the Dead will readily tell you, straight-to-video in Japan is all about grabbing that cash with catchy hooks in the titles. Seagal’s movies at this point were no different and the Chinmoku series exploded with the following titles:

Out for a Kill
Chinmoku no Hyouteki / Silent Target

Belly of the Beast
Chinmoku no Seisen / Silent Holy War

Chinmoku no Tsuigeki / Silent Pursuit

Today You Die
Chinmoku no Datsugoku / Silent Jailbreak

Mercenary For Justice
Chinmoku no Youhei / Silent Mercenary

Shadow Man
Chinmoku no Dakkan / Silent Retrieval

Flight of Fury
Chinmoku no Suterusu / Silent Stealth

Attack Force
Chinmoku no Gekitotsu / Silent Crash

Renegade Justice
Chinmoku no Houfuku / Silent Vengeance

The Keeper
Chinmoku no Gyakushuu / Silent Counterattack

Driven to Kill
Chinmoku no Chinkonka / Silent Requiem

A Dangerous Man
Chinmoku no Tekken / Silent Iron Fist

Born to Raise Hell
Chinmoku no Fukushuu / Silent Revenge

True Justice [Season 1 DVD] Part 1
Chinmoku no Shukumei / Silent Fate

True Justice [Season 1 DVD] Part 2
Chinmoku no Keiji / Silent Revelation

True Justice [Season 1 DVD] Part 3
Chinmoku no Haishin / Silent Betrayal

True Justice [Season 1 DVD] Part 4
Chinmoku no Dankon / Silent Bullet Hole

True Justice [Season 1 DVD] Part 5
Chinmoku no Banka / Silent Lament

True Justice [Season 1 DVD] Part 6
Chinmoku no Shinken / Silent God Fist

The Voice Versus: Steven Seagal
Chinmoku no Otoko Segaaru Gachi Taaku Batoru / Silent Man Seagal Serious Talk Battle

True Justice [Season 2 DVD] Part 1
Chinmoku no Arashi / Silent Storm

True Justice [Season 2 DVD] Part 2
Chinmoku no Okite / [Do you remember this one?]

True Justice [Season 2 DVD] Part 3
Chinmoku no Kiba / Silent Fang

True Justice [Season 2 DVD] Part 4
Chinmoku no Honoo / Silent Flame

True Justice [Season 2 DVD] Part 5
Chinmoku no Koku / Silent Moment

True Justice [Season 2 DVD] Part 6
Chinmoku no Tamashii / Silent Soul

Maximum Conviction
Chinmoku no Kangoku / Silent Prison

Force of Execution
Chinmoku no Shokei Gundan / Silent Execution Force

Gutshot Straight
Chinmoku no Shingeki / Silent March

Chinmoku no Seisai / Silent Sanctions

Killing Salazar
Kiringu Sarazaru Chinmoku no Sakusen (Misshon) / Killing Salazar Silent Mission (Mission)

Sniper: Special Ops
Chinmoku no Afugan / Silent Afghan

Code of Honor
Chinmoku no Shukusei / Silent Purge

The Asian Connection
Chinmoku no Houimou Ajian Konekushon / Silent Siege: Asian Connection

The Perfect Weapon
Chinmoku no Teiou / Silent Ruler

End of a Gun
Endo obu a Gan Chinmoku no Juudan / End of a Gun: Silent Bullet

Contract to Kill
Chinmoku no Gekisen / Silent Fierce Battle

China Salesman
Chinmoku no Tairiku / Silent Continent

Chinmoku no Tatsujin / Silent Master

General Commander
Chinmoku no Shuuen / Silent Demise

Beyond the Law
Chinmoku no Tettsui / Silent Strike

As we can now plainly see, the word “chinmoku” is an important gateway to Japanese, because by our estimates the entire Japanese language will have been incorporated into the title of a Steven Seagal movie by 2052.

So put down those text books and pick up the entire filmography of Steven Seagal. It’s by far the best way to learn Japanese and how to kill a guy by twisting his head at the same time!

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