Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Pot-Bouille, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. Pot-Bouille Senior Member


    I'm familiar with the phrase 自由の身だ, I'm a free human being (or maybe: I'm freedom incarnate ?).
    I thought it was a set phrase and didn't know you could use ~の身だ with different words.

    Today, I read the following sentence:

    So, talking about myself, can I say: 教師の身だ?

    If yes, what would be the effect compared to 教師です?

  2. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    の身だ means 'in a state of' ('incarnate' is の化身), and accordingly, when it's used some background context of your life would often be provided. 教師の身だ wouldn't be grammatically incorrect, but it's usually fairly literary/high register for introductions.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  3. Pot-Bouille Senior Member

    Do you mean it would be followed by an explanation of why the person is currently in that state?
    Could you perhaps give me an example?
  4. Tonky Senior Member

    Yeah, as trigel-san said above, 教師の身 wouldn't be used for introducing.
    身 originally means "body" and ~の身 would mean one's (social) status or position, in Japanese, 身分 or 立場.

    I just googled to check if 教師の身 has been used recently, and what I found are mostly (教師の)「身になる」「身につく」「身の危険」, idioms using 身.
    Some that are used to mean what you want it to mean were as follows;
    同じ教師の身として、生徒指導について意見が合うのでしょっちゅうその事について話す。(from a personal blog)
    As we're in the same situation of being teachers, we share opinions about student guidance, so we often talk about it.
    家庭教師の身としまして以下の点について指導を行いたいと思います。(from a tutor-catering service)
    As a tutor (at home), I'd like to guide (teach) children to the following effect.
    教師の身でありながらいじめを助長するような言動を取る等、生徒からの支持は低い。(about manga characters)
    Being in the position of a teacher, yet she talks as if she encourages bullying and such, so she isn't popular among students.
    普通に毎日を生きているだけの一介の大学教師の身には、毎日ネットで公開するに足りるようなことがそうそう起こるはずもない (personal blog)
    As a simple/boring professor who just normally lives on day by day, not much happens (to me) to show others on internet everyday.

    as for ~の身, we have quite a few of those we very often use;
    囚(とら)われの身 / opposite to 自由の身
    不肖(ふしょう)の身 / humbly calling oneself as unworthy
    不遇(ふぐう)の身 / ill-fated or unlucky (you would not use this for yourself usually.)
    宮仕え(みやづかえ)の身 / basically means "サラリーマン" or an employee as a joke
    天涯孤独の身 / totally alone in the world, like no family, no relatives, no boy/girlfriends at all (sometimes as a joke)
    浅学菲才(せんがくひさい)の身 / super-humbly calling oneself as uneducated and not talented
    and more :) Like said above, most of these describe what kind of state one is in.

    <Edit 2>
    There were some examples using 教師の身 like these too.
    新米とは言え、教師の身だ。「遅刻はこれを最後に」と、自分に言い聞かせた。(personal blog)
    I'm still new, yet I'm in the position of a teacher. I told myself that this would be the last time I'd ever be late for school.
    ここでがんばれなければ、教師の道は終わったも同然。 俺は今模擬教師の身。(personal blog)
    If I can't hang on now, my path to a teacher will be over. I'm currently in the position of a practice teacher.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  5. Pot-Bouille Senior Member

    Please correct me if I'm wrong:
    Apart from a collection of set phrases that are for the most part literary, humorous or humble (as those listed in Tonky's post) ~の身だ is rarely used without some context.
    Most of the time, that context is one of wondering/pondering about one's lot in life.

    If I take the sentence:
    and change it to:
    does it sound more humble ? or perhaps more dramatic because it sounds literary ?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013
  6. Tonky Senior Member

    I do not find any difference between the above two, personally. It does sound literary with 身, but not so dramatic to me.
    If I am to nitpick, however, the former could (but unlikely) be used by those who are not in the same status, while the latter makes me assume that the writer (or the speaker) is in the said status, but I don't know why. 身 does not mean "my body" either, but still, I have put "to me" in parenthesis on my previous post. I have never thought of this before, and it may take me quite a while or maybe forever to come up with a decent reason (or excuse).

    By the way, humility is not coming from ~の身, but from this word, 一介の, in this case.
    身 is 身分/立場/地位 or social status (or rank, position, situation, whatever that suits here), and it does not add humble meaning by itself. (Maybe it does in unconscious level? I'm not really sure, it may depend on who reads it...)
    その後、リチャードと兄エドワードの身に何が起こったのかは不明であり、多くの推測が行われている。(from Richard of Shrewsbury)
    What happened to Richard and his brother Edward later is unknown, and various conjectures have been made.
    Everyone meets one's fate.
    後漢の初め頃には不遇の身であり各地を転々としていたが、・・・(from 趙匡胤, Emperor Taizu of Song)
    In the early Later Han era, he was ill-fated and wandered around many places, but...

  7. Pot-Bouille Senior Member


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