Topics Covered in this Closer Look：
Vocabulary [Word Bank];
Particle は, Particle の, Particle と, Particle も, and their contextual implications; Grammar: ～ておる, ～ている, ～でござる, Japanese non-restrictive modifiers, noun modifiers, progressive form; Family title; introduction to counters: people, how to never pronounce kanji for four people, and more Japanese linguistic nuance.
ＨＥＬＬＯ！ Ｉ ＡＭ ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™！I am the robot friend of Kiki and Koko from Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online, your personal Japanese language and culture blog, and now, Kiki and Koko from ♡Kiki+Koko™. (We are not related, ™ is a very common surname.)
You may be wondering why you are seeing me, ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™, your personal Japanese language learning assistant, here, when ♡Kiki+Koko™ is a blog focussed on daily life on Earth rather than Japanese language and culture based edutainment. However, this is where your hard drive may require defragmenting, as these two files can be optimised on the same location on your disk. Edutainment is everywhere!
Though the ♡Kiki+Koko™ blog’s ♡Kiki+Kokoの紀行文 corner is meant for quick Japanese passages, there is always something to be learned from even the relatively simplest of entries!
In this Closer Look corner, I will use my computer robot capabilities to scan the passages for learning springboards as a way to help you bolster your study skills. Media can be utilised as a learning tool, and though it is important to have a guide as not to find yourself writing corrupted data to your memory, trial and error as well as the extra expenditure used whilst analysing media can allow for an enriched learning experience, and ergo, stronger memory of what you learnt.
In order to show you how future Closer Look corners will function, let us simply begin!
First, let us choose a sentence or two in order to analyse:
If you are an absolute beginner, you can read this lesson on the Japanese writing system to better understand what we are analysing.
Please note that though this would be considered a simple phrase to a native speaker, that this is technically of lower intermediate level for Japanese language learners. This means that this may have varying degrees of difficulty when it comes to vocabulary and grammar, but it can be of benefit to any language learner participating. So, if you are upper intermediate, perhaps this will be a useful refresher, and if you are lower elementary level, you can use this to challenge yourself.
Now, if you simply want to translate the sentences to understand, this is still commendable, but the purpose of this corner is to help you not only understand but hopefully be able to apply concepts from the sentences. There is much nuance in everything from the verb forms to the particles. Each of these concepts are quite complex and take many lessons to fully master, so do not worry if everything is not completely clear right away, if you are just beginning. We have many grammar lessons to help you in the meantime.
詳しく見てみよう! Let’s Take a Closer Look!
Let us begin with vocabulary!
Japanese is written differently to English in many ways, but most importantly for this, it is written with the Verb at the end which you will see can making translation a bit tricky, but it can help you understand the grammatical structure. And though kanji may seem daunting, it can be a bit difficult to know where one word ends and another begins without it. So, use this to your advantage when searching for each vocabulary word in a dictionary.
Let us go step-by-step starting with the first sentence. Here are each of the words or phrases translated in their most basic form. Nuance will be expounded upon later, so do not fear.
- 「今(いま)は」translates as “now”
- 「双子(ふたご)の姉(あね)」means “twin sister.”
- Name kanji can be tricky as the name 「興子」 can be read in as many ways as, 「おきこ」「おっこ」「きょうこ」「こうし」and even「ともこ」, however, we can narrow it down using context clues that this is 「こうこ」or as you may know her, “Koko.”
- 「と」in this case is a particle, and we will have a closer look at this later.
- 「惑星(わくせい)」means “planet”
- 「地球(ちきゅう)」means 「Earth」
- 「に」is another particle we will look at in a moment.
- And, we will pay close attention later to 「住(す)んでおります」which means “living.”
So, we have, literally, “Now (particle) twin sister Koko (particle) Planet Earth (particle) living.” After simply translating word by word, you would certainly have the gist of the meaning of the sentence. But, of course, we are here to understand a bit more. Even accounting for the proper translation, “I now live on Planet Earth with my twin sister, Koko,” nuance could be lost.
Particles can say more than one would assume. This sentence would still be correct without the particle, but it would lose a layer.
📝 例「今、地球に住んでいます」 「いま、ちきゅうにすんでいます」 Ex.「I am living on Earth now.」
You will often hear sentences such as, 「彼女(かのじょ)は今ロンドン(ろんどん)に住(す)んでいます」or “She lives in London now” or 「彼(かれ)は今(いま)火星(かせい)に住んでいます」meaning “He lives on Mars now,” and these are correct, as they are just stating a fact, but you can say more with a particle.
The nuance begins with 「は」. For example, 「今(いま)はロンドンに住(す)んでいます。」or ”I now live in London.” This nuance may be lost through text and translation in English, but this nuance brought by the 「は」indicates that the subject is NOW living in London and implies that they were living somewhere else before.
For example, 「火星(かせい)に住(す)んでいたが、今(いま)は月(つき)に住(す)んでいます。」or “I was living on Mars, but now I live on the Moon.” There are many particles that imply something that allows you to omit the first piece of information. By simply saying, 「今(いま)は」rather than just 「今(いま)」, you can infer that the person was living somewhere else before.
It is this sort of nuance that is difficult to incorporate into our beginner introductions to particles. That is why we always are sure to say that a particle indicates one thing and has one function, but that it also has many more that you will learn with time.
「双子(ふたご)の姉(あね)の興子(こうこ)と」「With my twin sister Koko」
In Japanese, there is more than one way to say “sister”— There is a way to refer to your own older sister, there is a way to refer to the older sister of someone else There is a way to refer to an older sister that is your own and a younger sister that is your own. This is no exception even with twins. Here, 「姉(あね)」is a way to refer to one’s own older sister. Though my processors cannot fully calculate the reason, even if the siblings are the same age, it is still important to know who is older for at least linguistic purposes.
Let us take a closer look at the particles used in this sentence.
「双子(ふたご)の姉(あね)の興子(こうこ)と」In this case, 「の」is used as a noun modifier. In this case, you do not need to say 「私(わたし)の双子(ふたご)の姉(あね)の興子(こうこ)」because 「私(わたし)の」or “my” would be considered redundant. By saying 「姉(あね)」rather than 「お姉(ねえ)さん」, it is already implied that it is the sister of the writer and not the elder sister of another twin.
You can apply this pattern with many other sentences, such as 「私の友達のＱＵＩＺＢＯ™くんです」“This is my friend, ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™” . It is essentially the equivalent of a nonrestrictive modifier in English. It turns what would be a nonrestrictive modifier in English into simply an adjectival clause in Japanese, which is actually a bit simpler linguistically, as you do not have to think of whether to say “that” “which” “who” or “whom” such as, “This is Koko, who is my twin sister.” still simply translates to 「こちらは双子(ふたご)の姉(あね)の興子(こうこ)です。」or “This is my twin sister, Koko.” It keeps things streamlined. This is a great example of why it can be impossible to translate from English to Japanese verbatim, as many grammatical concepts differ greatly between the two languages.
Let us take a look at the last particle of the sentence, 「と」. 「と」has many different functions, but in this scenario, it is used as 「with」. You can say,
”I am studying Japanese with ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™」
”I will play with my friends.”
「と」has many more functions outside of this, but usually, if you see a noun referring to someone, then「と」, then an action, then you will most likely be seeing this as the function.
「惑星(わくせい)地球(ちきゅう)に住(す)んでおります。」「living on Planet Earth」
Earlier, I used the phrase 「住(す)んでいます」in the example sentences which is a basic polite way to say “living”. This is where we start to use contextual clues if you have never encountered this verb before. The dictionary form of this word is, 「住(す)む」”to live.” And in this, we see the verb conjugated to its 「て」form, 「住(す)んで」.
After this, we see 「おります」。Contextually, we see this used another time in the passage, 「作(つく)っております。」Usually, in basic polite Japanese, you will see what is called progressive form as 「てform verb+います」. This indicates a current and continued action. However, this polite form has another level of politeness!
In what is known as humble language, 「います」becomes 「おります」. In polite language, speaking about yourself or your company is humbled or lowered and speaking of others is honoured or lifted up, unlike the basic polite language where you can simply use 「ます」form for anyone. So, progressive humble language would be「てform verb+おります」whilst the opposite, or what you would use when speaking about someone else would be 「てform verb+いらっしゃいます。」
So, in looking at the verb form itself, you can tell that the writer is speaking about their own actions or existence in using humble language.
Rest Stop | 休憩所
Wowee, it is the hope that you can also see how much knowledge can be gleaned from analysing even one sentence! Though passively listening to Japanese language or looking at passages can serve some purpose, it is important to actually take the time to see why and how the sentences themselves are created along with word choice.
It certainly takes a bit more effort for humans who do not have a database of this sort of information quickly accessible, but again, the extra effort can truly help you learn more effectively than simply being told a translation alone.
Now, let us take a look at one more sentence!
This time, we will try something a bit different. We will work backwards from the verb of the sentence.
We have lessons further explaining Japanese copula, but in this case, it will be kept brief:「でございます」is the humble form of 「です」. 「です」is polite on its own and can be used for anyone, but this step up to even more politeness is used to humble or lower the speaker and their company. You know that the writer of this passage is speaking of their own experience because of this humble verb. If it were speaking about someone else to raise them up, it would be 「でいらっしゃいます。」
So, now that we can infer that this is about the writer, we know that「二人(ふたり)とも」or “both” is referring to both the writer and the previously mentioned company or “both of us”. It could be easily confused as a beginner that 「とも」seems like some sort of
amalgamation of particle 「と」and「も」, but this is why it is important to have a guide even if you are on your own! In 「二人とも」,「とも」is actually 「共(とも)」which can be used as a suffix for “both” as in「姉妹(しまい)とも日本語(にほんご)教師(きょうし)です。」meaning ”Both sisters are Japanese teachers.”
To delve deeper, you can even use this as a springboard for discovering Japanese “counters.” The word 「二人(ふたり)」is how you would say, “two people.” But even if you already knew how to count, 「一、ニ、三、四・・・」, it would be impossible to know this implicitly as when you count people, it would NOT be
「いちひと、にひと、さんひと、よんひと」, the reading changes when the two characters air paired together, and it would become, 「一人(ひとり)、二人(ふたり)、三人(さんにん)、四人(よんにん)・・・」※
※If you already know how to count in Japanese, you may know that 四 can be read as 「よん」or 「し」. I must bestow my warning to you, when counting people, never ever say 「しにん」instead of 「よんにん」when saying 「四人」as it will not mean four people, and they will tell no tales. ☠️
And, lastly, we have 日本語教師(にほんごきょうし)。Many beginners only think of the word 「先生(せんせい)」when they think of the word, teacher. We have a thorough explanation of the difference which you can read if you are interested in knowing more, but to keep it simple, 教師(きょうし) is usually how you would refer to a teacher as a profession, usually related directly to a classroom setting rather than the general title of a teacher. However, you will still see 「日本語の先生」used such as 「僕は日本語の先生になりたいです。」”I want to become a Japanese language teacher.” but you will also equally see 「日本語教師です。」”I am a Japanese language teacher.”
Closer Look Conclusion
Your closer look at this passage does not have to end here! If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Throughout this analysis there have been references to many other lessons and articles. There is never a lack of learning materials and resources, here, at Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online, and even a short passage in Japanese can serve as a springboard for so much more discovery.
More importantly, be sure to be patient with yourself and return to the passages we analyse. Often, learning is not automatic, unless you are a computer robot assistant such as myself. Reading through this analysis may give a slightly clearer view into the grammar and intentions of the writing, but it may take time to let these concepts align in your mind in a way that makes it clear enough to use in your own daily life! Never be afraid to test out what you have learnt, but always be open to correction and always continue learning.
Mistakes are an important part of learning! And, even as a computer robot, there is always more information that I require to continue to improve my database. If there is something that I missed in my analysis or something that you did not understand fully or that I encoded to human speech strangely, feel free to ask for clarification! We here at Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online at SpeRaToBo are always looking to improve in any way that we can, just as we hope you continue to improve on your Japanese language learning journey.
Take note of the vocabulary we covered today by having a look at the word bank:
Closer Look Challenge!
Try writing your own introduction in Japanese!
・どんな 趣味が ありますか？
（どんな しゅみが ありますか？）
That is all for this instalment of Closer Look w//ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™! We hope that you will continue to join us for more of this sort of corner as well as more of our Japanese language and culture resources. Just because the activity of today is complete does not mean that your daily learning journey has to stop here. You can start or continue your Japanese language learning journey with us! We have hundreds of lessons and articles available for you. Always remember that revision is important, and that even if you have already read a lesson, there is always more to learn if you take a Closer Look!
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