Forum for Tsumego

is "tsumego" really the same as "life and death" [#1084]

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xela: is "tsumego" really the same as "life and death" (2007-08-01 06:25) [#3656]

I would say that "tsumego" is a broader category than "life and death problems". For example, I think that everything in the Gokyo Shumyo Tsumego Series is tsumego, but only the first three sections are life and death.

However, that leaves me at a loss to say exactly what "tsumego" does mean. I like to think of it as "close quarters go", but that's rather vague.

Bill: Re: is "tsumego" really the same as "life and death" (2007-08-01 16:17) [#3663]

In "Go no tsume to yose" (Tsumego and Yose), vol. 5 of his "Killer of Go" series, Sakata says that tsumego refers to "local life and death, ko, semeai, and the like". Like nearly all words, its meaning is fuzzy, but not unconstrained. One Japanese definition (2007-08-02 18:13) [#3685]

Bob McGuigan: For what it is worth, here is a definition from Bessatsu Igo Kurabu No. 37, a small go encyclopedia. 詰碁 : 死活問題 を 主 とし た 作り物である が, コウ, 攻め合い, 切断, 連絡, など の 問題 も 取り上げている. Tsumego: shikatsu mondai wo shutoshita tsukurimono de aru ga, kou, semeai, setsudan, renraku, nado no mondai mo toriagete iru. Tsumego: Mainly composed life-and-death problems but ko, capturing race, cutting, connecting, etc. problems are also accepted.

Bill: Re: One Japanese definition (2007-08-02 18:52) [#3687]

Thanks, Bob. :-) I have revised the definition on the page accordingly.

Dieter: Re: One Japanese definition (2007-08-02 18:54) [#3688]

So do you think we can cleanup the footnotes too? I mean, keep what's there but remove the conversation mode?

Bill: Re: One Japanese definition (2007-08-02 23:27) [#3689]

Well, I am enough of an academic to know that commentary is appropriate to footnotes. OC, in a book or article it is one person's commentary. In this case it involves two people. Isn't discussion mode appropriate to commentary?

Anyway, I am moving the comments to a subpage. :)

Dieter: poblem (2007-08-01 10:27) [#3657]

I've heard it literally means "filling the stones" and that the actual translation would be "problem". Since most problems are about L&D it might have become a synonym, at least in common parlance.

Bill: Re: problem (2007-08-01 16:18) [#3664]

What you heard is false etymology. Footnote 2 addresses the question of etymology, BTW.

velobici: ((no subject)) (2007-08-01 13:32) [#3659]

Tsumego is a Japanese Go Term. It is used as part of the titles of a number of books. If those books contain problems that are life and death, problems whose solution is life, death, seki, or ko to live, then tsumego would be the same as the english term life and death.

This is a better way to proceed than to state that Gokyu Shumyo is tsumego and then create a definition based upon the problems in that collection.

xela: Re: ((no subject)) (2007-08-01 14:18) [#3660]

My idea that Gokyo Shumyo is all tsumego comes from hearing/reading the word tsumego in various contexts. Unfortunately my memory isn't good enough that I can say where I got that strange idea from.

I'm not trying to invent a new definition for the word, I'm just trying to work out how people actually use it in practice. Sorry again to be so vague!

xela: OK, I found a concrete example, life is full of coincidences :-) (2007-08-01 14:36) [#3661]

... for example, there is [ext] a thread on where someone responds to a request for recommendations of tsumego books by giving a list including books about not only life and death, but also tesuji, the endgame, the opening and joseki.

velobici: Re: OK, I found a concrete example, life is full of coincidences :-) (2007-08-01 14:55) [#3662]

The thread is another example of English speakings using a Japanese go term (tsumego) and perhaps misusing the term. If we want to know what the term means, we have to examine its usage in a Japanese go context. Perhaps the easiest way to do this for people that can not read Japanese is to learn the kanji for tsumego (詰碁), find books with those kanji in the title, and examine the problems in those books.

Using English language sources is inherently flawed, unless we wish to deem tsumego an English language term and therefore available to be defined differently from the Japanese word tsmego (詰碁). In that case, may be a useful source for seeing how the "English language word" tsumego is used. But, it seems funny to create a new word when "life and death problems" or "reading problems" appear to be adequate and clearly understandable provided one knows at least a little about go.

xela: I'm trying to be pragmatic. (2007-08-02 02:38) [#3674]

Velobici, I don't doubt that your knowledge of Japanese is greater than mine. I assure you that I'm not trying to confuse people by inventing a brand new word or a brand new definition.

The fact is that the word is out there, and English speakers are using it. If someone starts talking/writing about "tsumego", I'd like to know what they mean. Since reading your replies here, I've done a bit more searching, and all I can say is that the usage does not seem to be consistent.

So, the real question is whether the main page should make a note of this: "The correct Japanese meaning is ... but the word is sometimes used in a broader sense, including ..." or something along those lines.

velobici: Pragmatic ? Perhaps its too early to decide upon a consensus of usage. (2007-08-02 03:38) [#3675]

Indeed, the usage of the word tsumego by English speakers is not consistent. The lack of consistency indicates that there may be a problem. If only one person is inconsistent with the rest...well, that's easy. If many people use the word in different ways that are inconsistent, then there is a real problem. Your notes regarding usage of tsumego in English seem to indicate that a significant number of folks are using a specific Japanese go term, tsumego, wrong.

Without a consensus of usage for the word tsumego in English making statements about the word's meaning in English is not useful. Words need to convey a specific meaning/idea to the listener, otherwise they are just meaningless sounds and are of no use for communication. (Yes there are words like "two", "to" and "too" and there is quite involved discussion about what the "unit of meaning" is in language, but let's leave those issues aside...the first is mercifully rare in English, and the second is not a issue that I am competent to comment upon.)

We all know what green means...grass, leaves, the go signal color at a stoplight. Imagine if we had no consensus around the use of the word "green". Heaven help us if a number of drivers come to believe that green includes the stop signal color at a stoplight ! :)

In the words of that [ext] Famous American ...and that's all I have to say about that.

Bill: Re: I'm trying to be pragmatic. (2007-08-02 09:26) [#3677]

Lexicographically speaking, there are a couple of issues here. First, is tsumego an English go term? Second, if it is English, what does it mean?

It is plain, if you hear people talking and read English language web sites, that people do use tsumego as a go term in English. It is also plain that different people mean different things by it. For some people it seems to include tesuji problems and reading problems. For others, it does not. (I don't think it generalizes to fuseki problems.)

Should a reference work include all the existing definitions of a word, even those that are not universally accepted? The term, joseki, has a similar question of correctness, since some people use it for any corner play, good or bad. The question of correctness is not a new one for lexicographers. Every dictionary faces it. None, not even the most liberal, includes every idiosyncratic definition. Some standard must be met.

One possible standard for terms like tsumego and joseki is to stick to the original Japanese meaning. If English speaking amateurs misuse the term, let them at least have a reference that gives a correct definition. Another standard is the one used by the OED, which takes its definitions from the usage of a word in the written language. Writers and editors strive for effective language, and that process brings with it a natural standard. The question is then not how someone may use the term on, but how do Davies and van Zeijst and Nam use the term in their books and articles. I favor the OED standard. How is the term used in the English go literature?

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