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Question 人馬一体

Nick1984

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Hi all, I have heard that Mazda have a motto or philosophy known as 人馬一体 (Jinba ittai), which I believe means “horse and rider in perfect harmony/unity”. I don’t know whether this is just a clever bit of marketing to attract customers here in Europe, and whether the phrase really means what Mazda want us to think it means!

My question is: does this phrase have a broad enough meaning to include a person and any machine, for example a motorcycle and its rider?

Are there any alternative phrases that give the same meaning, particularly relating to a motorcycle and its rider?

Thank you in advance 🙏🏼
 

Toritoribe

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does this phrase have a broad enough meaning to include a person and any machine, for example a motorcycle and its rider?
Yes.

Are there any alternative phrases that give the same meaning, particularly relating to a motorcycle and its rider?
There is no problem to use the phrase to a motorcycle, or more likely, it's better fit to a motorcycle rather than a car.
 

bentenmusume

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Hi all, I have heard that Mazda have a motto or philosophy known as 人馬一体 (Jinba ittai), which I believe means “horse and rider in perfect harmony/unity”. I don’t know whether this is just a clever bit of marketing to attract customers here in Europe, and whether the phrase really means what Mazda want us to think it means!

My question is: does this phrase have a broad enough meaning to include a person and any machine, for example a motorcycle and its rider?
I'm not entirely sure what you're uncertain of here. You understand the (literal) meaning of the phrase, and it's pretty clear that Mazda is taking a phrase referring to horse and rider and using poetic license/metaphor to apply it to the relationship between car and driver. There are no specific rules governing poetic license/metaphor, but I'd say it's pretty clear that if you used it in the context of a motorcycle/rider it would convey the same meaning. (For other "machines" or vehicles which can't be likened to a horse, it probably would feel a bit off.)

NIck1984 said:
Are there any alternative phrases that give the same meaning, particularly relating to a motorcycle and its rider?
If you mean you want to take the phrase and adjust it so it's specifically referencing a motor vehicle/motorcycle rather than a metaphorical horse, there are ways you could do that. You could, for example take the 馬 character and replace it with something like:

人車一体 (Jinsha ittai, with "sha" being the character for a motor vehicle)
人バ一体 (Jinba ittai, read the same as the original but with the katakana バ used in バイク/motorcycle instead of the kanji for horse)

...to get a play on words. (Doing a quick internet search turned up at least a few examples of people doing this.)

Or you could explicitly say バイクと一体(になる) or the like. Doing a quick internet search also turned up other related slogans/phrases like バイクに耳を傾けて.

The meaning is completely different, but I also like this motto came across very much:
おまえは風だ

Anyhow, hope this helps!
 

mdchachi

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Assuming he's doing due diligence before he inks this phrase permanently into his skin, then it makes sense to ask a lot of questions even if they may seem obvious. :)
 

bentenmusume

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Haha....did I miss something where the OP specifically said this was for a tattoo?

And whoops, I didn't even notice that Toritoribe-san had answered before me. Apologies for not acknowledging and for offering perhaps redundant/superfluous information.
 

Nick1984

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Thank you to everybody for your helpful replies :)
(Also, it’s not for a tattoo - possibly a decal though...)

I like @bentenmusume’s suggestion of
“人バ一体”, and was interested to know that it is pronounced/spoken the same, despite the change of katakana. 👍🏼
 

Toritoribe

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The pronunciation is the same, as bentenmusume-san wrote, but the word play works well only in a specific context. To my native eyes, it seemed to be a typo or something at a first glance since motorcycle is usually not abbreviated as バ. In other words, if you write the phrase on your motorcycle, it might be OK.
 

bentenmusume

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Yes, as the person who originally mentioned it, let me clarify that this is not a common variation on 人馬一体, or wordplay that every person is going to "get" at a glance.

If you Google the phrase, you can find scattered examples of native speakers using it, but like Toritoribe-san says, if you want to ensure that people understand the reference you'll have to make sure the context is very clear that you're talking about a motorcycle:

 

Nick1984

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Thank you for clarifying that :)

It seems I may do well to stick to the more commonly recognised “horse & rider” metaphor after all. As always, I appreciate and enjoy reading all of the comments and suggestions. Thank you all 👍🏼
 
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