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Seven Samurai: What's the old man saying?

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    Seven Samurai approx 17:16 into the movie the old man of the village, suggest the villagers (as translated by Criterion) “find hungry Samurai”.

    I been beating my head trying to understand the old man’s Japanese, but the mix of his mumble and my poor Japanese I’m having trouble.

    As typically online translators are worthless, and giving incorrect translations on every level.

    Thus far I understood what I believe is the 5 words of the 7(or more) that make up his statement:

    ue hairu no shi ta samurai ( 飢え入るのした侍 )

    Which is roughly “empty stomach obtain Samurai” but there are 2-3 more words he says, to which I don’t understand.

    Sounds sort of like “sono staio” which is not correct Romanization just the best I can spell out.

    Anybody anything? I’m dying here.

    Ideally I need the kanji/kana, but any help on the romaji would be helpful as well.



    Unless I’m mistaken, the old man’s line can be found in the script posted at the Kurosawa Archives on this page. It’s at the bottom left corner of the right-hand page, the last line of dialogue before the arrow.

    You probably need to enter the website before the direct link works (if you haven’t loaded the flash program, you get a log-in screen). If it still doesn’t work for you, it’s file number 22.14.01, page 13.

    Anyway, what it reads there is 腹のへった侍さがすだよ (hara no hetta samurai sagasu da yo), and that’s what I hear, too. I’m not entirely sure what “hetta” here literally means, but if it comes from “heri” (to decrease), then I suppose a word-to-word translation could be “stomach decreased samurai search (emphasis)”.

    By the way, the line is about 10:16 into my (new Criterion) print, in case someone is searching from 17:16 as suggested by Jeremy.

    I hope this helps!



    Except for hetta (I hear something nearer to shetta), I hear the same thing that you found in the archives, Vili.

    It seems tha my shetta coincides with Jeremy’s shi ta, would it be related to a peculiar accent of the actor?

    And what about the ue (I hear e)? Would it be some kind of interjection rather than a meaningful part of the phrase?

    In french, the phrase has been translated into “Cherchez des samouraïs affamés.” (~= search for famished samurais)

    (It could be interesting to compare translation choices, as famished is different from hungry and search different from find, it gives slightly different orientations to the dialogues.)



    Thanks Vili, I didn’t even think about finding the script. And thanks too for the time frame correction, I just grab the first issue I could find.

    It appears I was way off, and I was feeling so proud getting what I could.

    Now with what Vili provided, I hear exactly that, and wonder how the hell I heard otherwise. And how I missed the “yo” at the end is boggling, I mean Criterion offered a “!” for a reason.

    Anyways, I agree with Fabien the hetta, does sound more shetta, but I can’t comment about that.

    I do however clearly hear “ue” which would suggest starvation, or empty stomach, so maybe that’s what threw me off, but then it properly not “ue” but as Fabien suggest a interjection of some kind. I have to guess now it’s a shorten “iie” (no) to just “e” which I heard in the past, to simply interject in a negative to the what was said.

    Any clue on that Vili?

    The French translation is rather interesting, and choice of words to translate the original Japanese is part of my interest. Thus the importance of finding the exact meaning in Japanese I’m seeking.

    The total point: I’ve been for a long time, under the belief the phrase the old man speaks is the very essence of the Seven Samurai, and all aspects, both the positive(Samurai not fighting for glory, money, etc, but for what is right) and ultimate negative(Samurai dying for relatively nothing, and those that remain alive, quickly tossed aside) of the movie can fit nicely within the phrase. I could go on and on about that line, but you get the idea. However of course my belief is depended on the true meaning of the line in Japanese.

    The help here gets me much further, I suppose I need to really dig into this “hetta” or “shetta” now.



    Well, there appears to be nothing close to “shetta” in Japanese, it could be an accent, or the old man’s mumble . And indeed “hetta” comes back to “heri”, however searching a bit, I have found hetta used often in regards to starvation, but it appears to be more a medical term, and can only be correctly attached when it refers to the human stomach when it’s actively losing food. So, that would fit, in “heri” meaning to decrease.

    Of course I could be completely wrong again, but still “hetta” is close enough to starvation/hunger/hadn’t had food for a while/a decrease, in what is obviously referring to the stomach with the use of “hara” , not to play a significant role.

    I got everything I was seeking, thanks a lot, couldn’t of done it on my own.

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