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手が込んでいる

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手が込んでいる

Postby Astral Abraxas » Sun 02.21.2010 8:06 pm

Can someone explain to me HOW this expression means "subtle" or "elaborate"? 込む is another one of those bs words that I never really fully understood. Or is this just going to be another one of those "you'll have to memorize and get over the fact you'll never really understand because Japanese rarely like to make sense" expressions?

When I first read it I thought it meant something like "my hands are full" because of the meaning 込む has like バスが込んできた = the bus became crowded...

I'm thinking, maybe when they think of something being "elaborate" or "complicated" they think of it being "full" or "packed" or something like that. (which makes sense to me)

But, supposedly there is a meaning of "subtle" too. (Not a 100% about that, I'm just going by what a Japanese friend said).

I don't really know... I'm just stabbing in the dark hoping I hit something :evil:
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Re: 手が込んでいる

Postby chikara » Sun 02.21.2010 8:40 pm

Astral Abraxas wrote:Can someone explain to me HOW this expression means "subtle" or "elaborate"? ......

Isn't "subtle" (almost) an antonym for "elaborate". Surely 手が込む means to be elaborate but not subtle. I take the "elaborate" meaning from "full hands" as you have said. Maybe it means "subtle" if said sarcastically :think:
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Re: 手が込んでいる

Postby becki_kanou » Sun 02.21.2010 8:48 pm

込む in compounds also means something like "to go/put deep into", thus you get such compound verbs as 上がり込む、住み込む、話し込む、飲み込む etc.

So 手の込んだもの is something which a lot of hand-work has been put into.

BTW Makino and Tsutsui's Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar has a great appendix at the back detailing the uses of various compound verbs (〜立つ、〜寄る、出す、〜散らすetc.) with 〜込む among them.

chikara wrote:
Astral Abraxas wrote:Can someone explain to me HOW this expression means "subtle" or "elaborate"? ......

Isn't "subtle" (almost) an antonym for "elaborate". Surely 手が込む means to be elaborate but not subtle. I take the "elaborate" meaning from "full hands" as you have said. Maybe it means "subtle" if said sarcastically :think:

The two English meanings are not as disparate as they might seem. 手の込んだ means elaborate in the sense of having many details, and subtle in the same sense of having fine, small details.
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Re: 手が込んでいる

Postby UkiUki88 » Tue 02.23.2010 2:13 am

Hi, I found this dictionary site that might be useful.

In Japanese there is a lot of expressions that use the body parts, so having this dictionary you can just search words or type in whole expressions you'd like to learn more about.

http://kotobank.jp/

for your question on the meaning of 「手が込んでいる」 it said on that site that it means that it's something that has taken a great amount of time to do and a lot of hard work. For example, 「奈良の大仏は手が込んでいる」 (the sculpture of the great Buddha in Nara is intricate)

You can also use it like 「手の込んだ」 and put it in front of nouns, for example: 「手の込んだ料理」 (which would mean a very elaborate/time consuming dish)
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