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different as chalk and cheese ?[edit]

What is the difference between 雲泥の差 and different as chalk and cheese then? — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 23:56, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

  • As described on the different as chalk and cheese entry, chalk and cheese may appear superficially similar enough to be mistaken for each other. However, the essence or substance of each is quite different from the other, as is readily apparent as soon as one takes a bite.
Meanwhile, a cloud would never be mistaken for mud.
Does that explanation help? -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 05:49, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
That’s why I thought it was a good translation. When you say 雲泥の差, there is a superficial resemblance or at least some relationship. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 08:00, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
  • A relationship, I could see: from clouds come rain, and rain leads to mud. But resemblance, I really don't see. Is there some sort of idiomatic use you're aware of that I might have missed? English glosses that would fit my understanding are night and day or worlds apart. This seems to match the uses I've run across, such as 「アリとナシでは雲泥の差!」
In terms of dictionary definitions, Daijirin notes:


Shogakukan notes:


For just 雲泥, Daijirin notes:


The phrase 「はなはだしく懸け離れている」 implies a significant lack of resemblance. The phrase different as chalk and cheese, meanwhile, implies a surface resemblance close enough to be confusing, though the substance of each is quite different.
So while the basic underlying meaning of the two sayings is the same, i.e. "a considerable difference", the implications and associations are different. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 15:56, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
You miss the point. 雲泥の差 means "you might expect them to be similar, but actually there is a huge difference, one being far better than the other." Don’t just believe dictionaries and check real usage yourself. In your example above, the author says riding a motorcycle with and without a headset may seem similar but actually there is a huge difference and riding with a headset is far better. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 23:14, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I've looked at usage, actually. Just looking at the linked example, I don't see where the author says or implies that "riding a motorcycle with and without a headset may seem similar". I do see where the author says things like 「実際にタンデム走行中は、パッセンジャーがライダーの肩越しに大きな声で話しかけてもよく聞こえないのが現実。インカムを利用することで、いつもの倍以上タンデムが楽しくなる!」 -- i.e. with and without are quite different, not similar at all. The rest of that page simply provides examples and anecdotes to back up the idea that using a headset is very different from and better than not using one. I don't see anything on the page about riding with and without actually seeming to be similar. The way the phrase 雲泥の差 is used on this page is similar to worlds apart, but not all that similar to different as chalk and cheese.
In general, the implication about "you might expect them to be similar" comes from surrounding context, not from 雲泥の差 itself. The usages I've seen of 雲泥の差 do not themselves carry any such implication, but do sometimes come after a stated or implied "but". This is also the case in the Botchan quote in the term entry. Another example from a JA WP article:
Here, we're looking at similar things, i.e. income levels for various ranks of sumo wrestlers. Within this established context, we are told that the income levels of a certain rank are actually 雲泥の差 different from another rank, even though those ranks might not seem so far apart. The phrase 雲泥の差 itself does not carry the implication that the things being compared might seem similar. This is similar to the way worlds apart can be used -- "these two things might seem alike, but actually they're worlds apart! Meanwhile, different as chalk and cheese inherently implies a superficial similarity, in a way that neither 雲泥の差 nor worlds apart do.
Is that clearer? -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 00:21, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Okay, I try to explain it in a better way. The two must be measured with the same linear scale, and one is far better than the other. Compare the following sentences:
  • The two characters are worlds apart. (correct)
  • *二人は雲泥の差だ。 (incorrect: not comparable with a linear scale)
Then let’s analyze some other examples:
  • *二人の性格は雲泥の差だ。 (incorrect: not comparable with a linear scale)
  • 二人の収入は雲泥の差だ。 (correct)
  • *二人の身長は雲泥の差だ。 (incorrect: neither is far better than the other)
It doesn’t mean just the two are very different. After introspection, I found that what I wanted to say was that they are measured in the same way. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 01:28, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Aha, yes, the value judgment is important to note, now I see what you were driving at, thank you. I do find one hit with google:"身長は雲泥の差", but the context there indicates a value judgment -- one is much better than the other.
google:"性格は雲泥の差" somewhat confusingly shows nearly a million hits on the broader web; perhaps the implied meaning of these uses is that the speakers / writers are using a linear scale of "good" vs. "bad"? Or perhaps rather than "linear scale", might it be more a matter of comparing things that are of the same class (like incomes or body types)? -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 05:52, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
You cannot trust the hit count at the upper left corner of Google pages. In your second link, just click the third index page and you’ll find there are only 25 hits. Most of them seem to judge degrees of goodness of personality: one has a good personality and the other has a bad personality. — TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 09:37, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Re: hit count -- [facepalm] -- はずかしい。
Re: "goodness of personality" -- thank you, that makes sense as a measurement of sorts. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:42, 27 March 2013 (UTC)