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Commas in Japanese

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Commas in Japanese

Postby paul_b » Fri 12.01.2006 5:19 am

The following is an example from WWWJDIC

全員死者にしばし黙とうを捧げた。
The whole company stood in silence for a few moments, as a tribute to the dead.

I think it looks better with a comma added

全員、死者にしばし黙とうを捧げた。

any informed second opinions?
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RE: Commas in Japanese

Postby seiryuu » Fri 12.01.2006 9:04 pm

I'm assuming that 全員 means "the whole company."

With the comma, it adds a bit of an abrupt stop; the first just drills through.
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RE: Commas in Japanese

Postby coco » Sat 12.02.2006 4:44 am

全員、死者にしばし黙とうを捧げた。

ご指摘のとおりに読点を加えた方が、断然読みやすい文章になります。
( なので、他の意見はつかないと思う ;) )
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RE: Commas in Japanese

Postby paul_b » Sat 12.02.2006 6:26 am

coco wrote:
全員、死者にしばし黙とうを捧げた。

ご指摘のとおりに読点を加えた方が、断然読みやすい文章になります。
( なので、他の意見はつかないと思う ;) )


最初は「全員死者」って「誰も死んだ」と解釈しました。(汗
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RE: Commas in Japanese

Postby Zounoko » Sat 12.02.2006 4:45 pm

OK, since the original point of this post seems to be resolved, I hope no one will mind if I hijack it a bit.

I have noticed that comma usage is quite different in Japanese than in English, and I am curious what the rules are.

For instance, here's a sentence from the Tanaka Corpus. (Yes, Paul. I'm working on it. One reason it takes awhile is I tend to mine it for vocabulary and grammar points as I go along...)

あまり才狽ェないからといってがっかりしてはいけない。


If I translate that to English a bit more directly than the TC version, it would be:

"Even though you haven't got much talent, you shouldn't be discouraged."

The English version, unlike the Japanese, needs a comma between the dependent and independent clauses.

As a rule, my untutored feeling is that the majority of commas in Japanese come after particles. One example that used to startle me a lot was this sort of usage:

「日本人と欧米人の、ものの考え方に違いにも影響しています」と、三森さんは言う。
(from an article in US Frontline)


Both the commas there are come after particles and both are a bit startling to an English speaker.

What I have concluded after noticing this pattern frequently is that the commas are inserted if something comes between the particle and its head. That is, the の before the first comma really "goes with" the following 考え方, but since there are words in between, the comma warns the reader of that. Simimlarly, the と before the second comma "goes with" 言う, but since the speaker's name is inserted between, the comma gives the reader fair warning.

Am I completely confused about this, or have I made a reasonable deduction?

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RE: Commas in Japanese

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 12.02.2006 6:12 pm

I'm not sure, but the comma may be to show that it's [日本人と欧米人] の ものの考え方 and not [日本人] と [欧米人のものの考え方] but I think most people would be able to figure that out without the comma just based on the context.

It usually seems like in Japanese commas are just inserted before pauses.
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RE: Commas in Japanese

Postby coco » Mon 12.04.2006 4:47 am

「日本人と欧米人の、ものの考え方に違いにも影響しています」と、三森さんは言う。

ものの考え方違いにも?

「日本人と欧米人のものの考え方の違いにも影響しています」
「日本人と欧米人のモノの考え方の違いにも影響しています」
「日本人と欧米人の物の考え方の違いにも影響しています」
If you write もの with カタカナor 漢字, I don't think 読点 is needed.

and のものの looks like 油断大敵さん. :p
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の の
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