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To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Sun 11.08.2009 7:35 pm

NocturnalOcean wrote:
furrykef wrote:
In fact, some people have approached は from the other direction and claimed that its only purpose is to show contrast, and marking a topic of discussion is just a particular type of contrast. (It does make a certain amount of sense: when you say "as for X", you are contrasting X with anything else that one might want to talk about. "Never mind anything else we could talk about, we're going to talk about X now.")

- Kef



Actually, I think it is more like what my professor said when I started on my masters in east-asian linguistics.
Which was that there is only one は, and that is to make a topic. What people consider as contrastive usage, is just topical usage, but from the nature of having for example 2 topics in the sentence, they become "contrastive" by themselves.



But that doesn't explain why you wouldn't say 私はりんごは好きです unless you wanted to contrast りんご with something like みかん.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ヴェンリメル » Mon 11.09.2009 2:47 am

I don't know enough, really, to come up with another example, yet, but I think it works a little bit like this:

I, the topic of general conversation, at this point, would like to mention apples, and when that's the case, there is liking; and our subject, really, is this person who likes apples and where mandarin oranges are the case, there is a very certain dislike that exists.

Am I making sense?

From what I've seen, the subject is usually quite particular. Identifying the topic is really what connects you to the entire sentence. Each time you signify the topic, you're informing of the evolution of the conversation.

I may not know what I'm talking about, though. We'll see what I think of this idea when I'm speaking fluently. heh
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Mon 11.09.2009 6:56 am

furrykef wrote:But that doesn't explain why you wouldn't say 私はりんごは好きです unless you wanted to contrast りんご with something like みかん.


Actually yes it does furrykef.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby JaySee » Mon 11.09.2009 7:17 am

Astral Abraxas wrote:
furrykef wrote:But that doesn't explain why you wouldn't say 私はりんごは好きです unless you wanted to contrast りんご with something like みかん.


Actually yes it does furrykef.


That is without doubt one of the most pointless replies I've ever seen on this board.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Mon 11.09.2009 7:22 am

JaySee wrote:That is without doubt one of the most pointless replies I've ever seen on this board.


Yes, and that was a lot better >.>;
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Hyperworm » Mon 11.09.2009 9:48 am

ヴェンリメル wrote:The example given: 「私はりんごは好きです、みかんは嫌いです。」
"I" is the subject of the following discussion. Apples? Prefer, yes. Subject particle, marking that this is only part of a further sentence, thereby also serving as a way to indicate some contrast. Mandarin oranges? Heavy dislike.
I don't think が here is the subject particle - it's only the subject particle when it follows a noun. Here it just means "but" and has no connection to the が that marks the subject, or at least it's easiest for me to think of it that way (I'm not sure about the true linguistic nature of connective が).

ヴェンリメル wrote:I don't know enough, really, to come up with another example, yet, but I think it works a little bit like this:

I, the topic of general conversation, at this point, would like to mention apples, and when that's the case, there is liking; and our subject, really, is this person who likes apples and where mandarin oranges are the case, there is a very certain dislike that exists.

Am I making sense?
I think you've made it overly verbose and haven't really nailed down the sense of contrast that comes from using は in the first place. What if it wasn't there? What if it was a が instead? Those are the questions you need to be able to answer. Let me show you what I think:

「私りんご好きですが、みかん嫌いです。」
As for me, when it comes to apples, <I> like <those>, but when it comes to mandarins, <I> hate <those>.
(or, Personally speaking, I do like apples, but I really don't like mandarins.)
は adds a little bit of build-up/suspense/emphasis on what follows it. が's emphasis is on the noun it marks (before it).

It's probably not necessary to have "personally speaking"(=私は) in the above; contrasting yourself with other people isn't the point of the sentence. The fact that you're the topic will be inferred without 私は. It doesn't do much harm being there, though; "personally speaking" seems like it could stand in most contexts.
However, りんごは will only work if you're planning to contrast the りんご. If you say

「私りんご好きですが、スミスさんあまり好きではありません」
it will mean
As for me, when it comes to apples, <I> like <those>, but when it comes to Mr.Smith, <I> don't like <him> very much.

It you use が instead, you are no longer contrasting りんご with other things:
「私りんご好きですが、スミスさんあまり好きではありません」
Personally speaking, apples are what I like (I like apples), but as for Mr.Smith, <he> doesn't like <them> very much.


I hope this is all correct. -_-;
I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out one of those last two sentences could be read the other way...
(probably the first one.)


(Note that these are not intended as translations but explanations for understanding of は and が. When translating these sentences, understand how the contrast is working, and translate appropriately without throwing a hundred "as for"s and "when it comes to"s all over the English.)

Also note that there's probably a million topics already explaining は and が which you might want to search for and have a read through if you're confused. ^^
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Mon 11.09.2009 12:48 pm

Astral Abraxas wrote:
furrykef wrote:But that doesn't explain why you wouldn't say 私はりんごは好きです unless you wanted to contrast りんご with something like みかん.


Actually yes it does furrykef.


This may seem a blunt question, but... what kind of response is that? If that's a valid argument, I could just respond in kind with "no it doesn't" and suddenly we're in a Monty Python sketch. :P

Let's analyze this logically, or try to, at least:
1. We have the sentence 私はりんごは好きです, which sets up the sentence みかんは嫌いです.
2. If the first sentence were not designed to set up the second sentence, the speaker would have instead chosen to say, 私はりんご好きです.
3. Therefore, the entire purpose of using は after りんご is to contrast it with みかん.

There you have it: は is a contrastive particle.

Now, can you show me a similar thought process that demonstrates that は is a topical particle in this context?

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Mon 11.09.2009 12:59 pm

I admit Astral's response was rather...lacking. However, Hyperworm's extremely clear explanation (assuming it's correct. I suppose we still need verification.) seems to support the notion that it could be a considered a topic particle in the case of contrasting. If I saw 「私はりんごは好きです」 by itself, I'd probably read it, using Hyperworm's terminology, as "Personally, when it comes to apples, I like them (but I don't necessarily like something else)." The something else would depend on the context of course.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ヴェンリメル » Mon 11.09.2009 1:47 pm

furrykef wrote:[...]I could just respond in kind with "no it doesn't" and suddenly we're in a Monty Python sketch. :P
[...]- Kef
No, you couldn't, because you haven't paid for the full five minutes.

Now, if you wouldn't run the credits early, there'd be no need for ridiculous arguing just to fill up the time slot. =P

I actually like the comparative sentence involving Mr. Smith and his tastes; where apples remain the subject, but we've changed the topic to Smith.

I think the idea that you're always selecting the topic and not anything else that wasn't mentioned works, a bit, too.

Going to look for some of those threads you mentioned, Hyperwormさん, but if someone could suggest one or two, that'd be great. I don't imagine I'll get very far just searching for anything connected to a couple of random letters.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Mon 11.09.2009 4:01 pm

lonelytraveler8 wrote:However, Hyperworm's extremely clear explanation (assuming it's correct. I suppose we still need verification.) seems to support the notion that it could be a considered a topic particle in the case of contrasting.


Ah, right, I guess I should have read that post more closely. I think Astral Abraxas's post had blinded me. :lol:

But perhaps we're really just arguing about two sides of the same coin. When we say something in English like "As for me, when it comes to apples, I like those, but when it comes to mandarins, I hate those" (to use Hyperworm's phrasing), couldn't we just as easily argue that "when it comes to..." is itself serving a contrastive function?

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Mon 11.09.2009 4:38 pm

Well, yeah. It's obviously used for contrasting things. I wasn't trying to refute that. :)
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Mon 11.09.2009 4:52 pm

furrykef wrote:This may seem a blunt question, but... what kind of response is that? If that's a valid argument, I could just respond in kind with "no it doesn't" and suddenly we're in a Monty Python sketch. :P

Let's analyze this logically, or try to, at least:
1. We have the sentence 私はりんごは好きです, which sets up the sentence みかんは嫌いです.
2. If the first sentence were not designed to set up the second sentence, the speaker would have instead chosen to say, 私はりんごが好きです.
3. Therefore, the entire purpose of using は after りんご is to contrast it with みかん.

There you have it: は is a contrastive particle.

Now, can you show me a similar thought process that demonstrates that は is a topical particle in this context?


You honestly think I don't realize that my post was nearly useless? I wasn't trying to be informative. I was simply disagreeing.

I have 1 question for you though. What do you think would happen if you put two topics next to each other? We almost always instinctively compare them without even realizing it if you're not tunnel-visioned on grammar. If one is negative and one is positive then naturally it's going to contrast when we do that instinctive comparison.

The problem is if you're not familiar with the language it's not obvious as to why they used は it's not obvious that it's contrasting even though it's very straight forward and quite logical. It's not really so much an exception or rule as it is common sense IN MY OPINION.

If I say:

I like apples. I don't like oranges.

You'll compare them without even realizing it. This is about learning how Japanese take advantage of the fact は marks the topic. The things you're labeling as exceptions aren't exceptions. They are things that can be deduced with a little thinking and an understanding that the particle は marks the topic. They're just something you most likely can't come up with on your own if you're new to the language.

It's pretty straight forward.

Simply put:

You're suppose to be comparing two topics instinctively but since you're not Japanese it's not so instinctive.
Due to the fact one is positive and one is negative that comparison results in a contrast.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Mon 11.09.2009 6:56 pm

Astral Abraxas wrote:You honestly think I don't realize that my post was nearly useless? I wasn't trying to be informative. I was simply disagreeing.


If even you thought it was nearly useless, then why did you make it? :|

Astral Abraxas wrote:I have 1 question for you though. What do you think would happen if you put two topics next to each other? We almost always instinctively compare them without even realizing it if you're not tunnel-visioned on grammar. If one is negative and one is positive then naturally it's going to contrast when we do that instinctive comparison.


Well, I think this goes back to my "two sides of the same coin" point. Perhaps topicality and contrast aren't actually different things.

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby NocturnalOcean » Mon 11.09.2009 8:32 pm

furrykef wrote:Well, I think this goes back to my "two sides of the same coin" point. Perhaps topicality and contrast aren't actually different things.

- Kef


Well that's thing. Topics are contrastive by nature.
As soon as you make something a topic, for instance, 私は, you are in a away saying contrasting yourself to everything else. It's I, not you, he, Miyazaki, or anyone else.

But then again, I don't really mind if people think of a topic は and a contrastive は, if that makes it easier to learn.
But linguistically speaking, there is only one は in the Japanese language.
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