Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kodawari (こだわり) - Pursuing Quality to the Very End

KODAWARI (こだわり/拘り) is a Japanese word which means an uncompromising attitude toward quality.

This is one of the toughest words to translate to English. It can be used in a negative context such as a situation where a person is making a fuss (alt. where a person is being obstinate) , although contemporary use is often in a positive context.

If you are at a bar in Japan and have a glass of whiskey on the rocks, you will see a perfectly sphere-shaped ice ball. The bartenders spend a lot of time for making this perfect ice ball. This is because they have certain KODAWARI in their mind. Also, Japanese waiters would never receive a tip. This is another sign of KODAWARI. I believe KODAWARI is a fundamental idea for most Japanese.

I, meanwhile, am sometimes disappointed by an American bar serving whiskey with easily soluble ice cubes made by an ice machine. Although KODAWARI may lose some productivity, it is a vital factor for customer satisfaction.

A synonym of this word is KYO-JI (きょうじ/矜持), a little bit advanced word, which simply means pride. KODAWARI can be translated to persistence, passion for quality, professionalism, or pride.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pour encourager les autres

This is a French phrase that is not uncommon in English.

Pour encourager les autres is a quote from the French author Voltaire, referring to the excution of Admiral John Byng in the aftermath of the Battle of Minorca 1756.

The complete quote from Voltaire is Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres – "In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others."

This is of course a sarcastic statement, and is shortened to pour encourager les autres. It should be applied ironically to an action carried out in order to compel others to obey or submit.

More about the Battle of Minorca.

More about Voltaire.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, and dopaminergic means "related to dopamine". Dopamine plays a number of roles in our bodies, including the "pleasure reward" function.

This is why dopaminergic is a good word to know. It's a word that can mean "related to a body's pleasure reward function".

For example, one can have a dopminergic response to something:

"Whenever I think about chocolate cake I have a dopaminergic response!"

"The dopaminergic antagonism of coffee caused me to stop drinking it last year."