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the snake bites its tail

Japanese translation: どうどうめぐり

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:the snake bites its tail
Japanese translation:どうどうめぐり
Entered by: satoko takiguchi
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19:06 Mar 10, 2004
English to Japanese translations [Non-PRO]
General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters / idiom
English term or phrase: the snake bites its tail
The expression occurred in a recent translation job (HUN-ENG), but I hear one of the readers of the paper in Japan came back to my client with a question of what does this means and how could it be translated into Japanese.

As this is an idiom, there might be some idiomatic translation in Japanese - could you help me with this?

Thanks in advance
Eva Blanar
Hungary
Local time: 05:35
どうどうめぐり(doudoumeguri)
Explanation:
どうどうめぐり(堂々巡り)doudoumeguri
Of course, it depends on the context, but one of this idiom's meaning can be this one. We can rephrase as "go round in circles".
It's not about suicidal action.
Selected response from:

satoko takiguchi
Japan
Local time: 12:35
Grading comment
Thanks a lot to all of you: that was very helpful and I learnt a lot in the meantime.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
3 +4どうどうめぐり(doudoumeguri)
satoko takiguchi
5 -1タコが足を食う
kokuritsu
3自滅行為、自滅するxxxSAKIFUKU
3A symbol of perpetual life cycle of death and life?? 生死の象徴??
humbird


Discussion entries: 5





  

Answers


4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
A symbol of perpetual life cycle of death and life?? 生死の象徴??


Explanation:
Eva, to be honest with you I don't think I can offer you any concrete answer, as this is totally out of context (as the way you presented it). Moreover, I've never heard such cliche used in daily conversation among Japanese. However, according to following website, the Chinese Zodiac (Juni-shi) in which twelve animals follow each other in succession (mouse being the first), the former six represent the death, the latter six the life. As snake is in the middle of the order, this animal positions itself between death and life. Here's where my guess work starts. When snake bites its tail, it makes a circle -- a cycle. Therefore, it's a symbol of something rather than idiomatic expression. Again, can you provide more context? If you help me, maybe I can help you better.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 4 hrs 43 mins (2004-03-10 23:49:55 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The headline to be corrected to \"A symbol of perpetual cycle of death and life\".


    Reference: http://www.city.obihiro.hokkaido.jp/hp/data/page999997300/hp...
humbird
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
自滅行為、自滅する


Explanation:
Well, by some interpretation it is an idiom. But it is more of a metaphor, right? I think itt usually means one of the following:
1) Something which damages itself, either accidently or on purpose. As a snake biting its tail would.
2) A symbol of infinity. Like a story. For example, it is used in the book and movie "Never Ending Story".

I would guess it is more likely the first case and I found Japanese expression to fit this, but I would have to see the context.

xxxSAKIFUKU
Local time: 23:35
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Katalin Horváth McClure: It is the second case, not the first.
5 hrs
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10 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): -1
タコが足を食う


Explanation:
One of the most popular Japanese idiomatic expression for the phrase is:

"The octopus eats its limbs." (タコが足を食う)

The free translation would help most Japanese easily understand the phrase.

Google in Japanese hits more than a score of boilerplates for the expression, including the one shown in the site below.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 10 hrs 27 mins (2004-03-11 05:34:24 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Naturally, it metapholically means, as SAKIFUKU explains it, ¥"to conduct a self-destructive, suicidal behavior.¥"


    Reference: http://www.mainichi.co.jp/women/cross-talk/27/kiji/0.7.html
kokuritsu
Local time: 12:35
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese
PRO pts in category: 7

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Katalin Horváth McClure: The original English idiom has a different meaning. It is not about self-distruction, it's about something being cyclical.
1 hr
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15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
どうどうめぐり(doudoumeguri)


Explanation:
どうどうめぐり(堂々巡り)doudoumeguri
Of course, it depends on the context, but one of this idiom's meaning can be this one. We can rephrase as "go round in circles".
It's not about suicidal action.

satoko takiguchi
Japan
Local time: 12:35
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Japanese
Grading comment
Thanks a lot to all of you: that was very helpful and I learnt a lot in the meantime.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Katalin Horváth McClure: I like this one. Although, it is sometimes used to describe a Catch-22 situation, but so far this is the best in the given context. There is an interesting article using the same phrase, regarding corporate governance: http://www.rieti.go.jp/cgj/jp/column
11 hrs
  -> Thanks for the comment and the link!

agree  Yuriko Daikoku: On reading the asker's comment, I think this is what the asker is looking for.
2 days10 hrs
  -> thanks for your agreement!

agree  Rajiv Arora
2 days20 hrs
  -> thanks for your agreement!

agree  Katsuhiko KAKUNO, Ph.D.
12 days
  -> thanks for your agreement!
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