bunsha

Are stresses in words proving to be too stressful?

An unexpected announcement made yesterday by The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation has sparked controversy all over Russia, as they have decided to move the word stress in each word to the first syllable.

For example, картóфель will become кáртофель, and дурáк will become дýрак.

Getting the stress right in a word is notoriously difficult, as any Russian learner knows, but while we might celebrate this change, native Russian speakers are divided on the subject.

We asked one Russian language professor on his opinion on the matter. Professor Ivan Vasilyevich Bunsha, of Moscow State University, has described this change as ‘ridiculous’, but added that on the plus side, 'at least it would facilitate learning for the poor non-Russian speakers’.

What do you think of this amendment to the Russian language? Is it necessary? Are you for or against it?

(For more information on the change, please see this link.)

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At many Inari shrines and kamidana you will find nobori (幟). Nobori are a Japanese style of tall, narrow banner that can be found outside many venues, such as shrines, temples, and businesses.

The first image below gives an example of the most typical Inari nobori, in non-hōnō (left) and hōnō (right) variations. Let’s look at the non-hōnō one first…

At the top is a nyoi hōju (wish-fulfilling jewel, 如意宝珠) of Inari-sama. Below this, a formal name for Inari-sama is given, read from top-to-bottom… The first line gives Inari-sama’s rank, 正一位, Shōichii (this is the highest rank for kami). Below that in vertical text is 稲荷大明神, Inari Daimyōjin (“Daimyōjin” is a highly respectful suffix for a divine being, similar to Ōkami). Thus, the full text of the nobori is “Shōichii Inari Daimyōjin”.

An example of the non-hōnō nobori is found in the second image, where it is used on my home’s altar.

In the first image, the right-hand side nobori is the hōnō (奉納) variety. Hōnō is the dedication of a votive object, and is used here to denote that this nobori would have been donated by a person, organization, or business. The hōnō thus has two additions from the non-hōnō one: First, the word Hōnō (奉納) is given at the top, just below the jewel (note: it is read right-to-left on the nobori). Second, there is a blank area at the bottom where the donator’s name may be written.

An example of hōnō Inari nobori is found in the third image, where each one has been donated and erected on the grounds of an Inari shrine. As is common in this case, the nobori actually give the name of the shrine, rather than a name for Inari-sama.

These are examples of the most typical Inari nobori, but many variations exist. Some shrines use white ones, or even other colors such as blue, green, or yellow. It is also common to display the shrine’s crest… for bunsha (branch shrines), the crest of the parent, usually Fushimi Inari Taisha, is shown. There is even one shrine with kitsune on their nobori!