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Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

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Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby KendoForLife » Tue 02.03.2009 8:04 am

I'm sorry if this is too low-level for this section, but I'm just starting to "read" my first manga in japanese and I'm already having trouble with the first couple of panels.

I'm studying once a week with a teacher and we use the JfBP books, but we're not even half-way through book 1 so my level is quite low. However I'm trying to push myself to get better on my own by reading stuff I like (bamboo blade :D) because the references to Kendo (which is my life) help me stay motivated and also remember a lot of things.

Here is the part I can't properly translate:

この言葉が始まりだった

(it's the very first narrative box in the manga ^_^;)

I know この kono is "this". Since I'm new to any kanji I looked up 言葉 kotoba and it tells me "language/speech" but I'm wondering if maybe it's referring to "story"in this case? 始 is the kanji that hajime starts with so I know it means "begin", or "start". However I don't know the ending (if it even is an ending?) ~ まりだった (hajimaridatta?) the ~ta in the end, does that mean it's in past tense? (I'm asking cause we just learned adjectives in past tense with the "katta" in the end ^_^; )

In my mind it says "The story begins..." or something along those lines, but I want to understand the grammar, you know, what it says literally. Once I know whatever conjugation is happenening there I will look it up and practice it. That's how I learn the best, by reading and understanding. ^_^

I'm sorry if this is too basic grammar to post here, but I'm trying to learn it on my own because my japanese course is going very slow since the other students never study or put any effort into it and we're sorta stuck. The teacher said if I can get better on my own she can place me in a higher class. (it's a rather casual after-work course that I'm following).

So if anyone feels like explaining the particular meaning of 言葉 kotoba in that context as well as the "hajimaridatta", I would be extremely happy! Thank you in advance, and if this is really not the place for such newbie questions, please let me know and I'll just swallow my pride and show my crazy manga to my teacher instead (I'm an adult... ^_^;)

~~~~

edit: I've been staring at it for a while and now I'm wondering if it is "hajimari" (I looked it up, I think it's the noun "beginning or origin") and that only still leaves the datta in the end. Could that be? Well I still don't know what datta means, it's a verb, though, right? We haven't had dictionary forms yet so I was searching for "daru/datteru" (I have no idea how to conjugate verbs other than with ~masu form, gomenasai!) but coulnd't find anything. ^_^; Can someone give me a hint so I can continue from there?

よろしく おねがいします
- kendoforlife
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby jcdietz03 » Tue 02.03.2009 9:33 am

You may want to check out this page from Tae Kim's Japanese grammar guide. It will explain to you usage of だった.
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/copula.html

For story, you usually see 物語 (ものがたり). For example, 白騎士物語 (しろきしものがたり), the title for the recently released "White Knight Story" videogame. I don't know why they used 言葉.
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 02.03.2009 9:54 am

Without seeing the context we can't be sure, but 言葉 does not mean "story". Presumably if we saw the manga it would make more sense why 言葉 is being used -- perhaps it refers to some words a character will say.

Note that if your primary goal is to improve your Japanese in order to get placed into a higher class, this is not the best way to do it.
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby furrykef » Tue 02.03.2009 9:56 am

To clarify what Yudan means: it's probably not the most fun way, either.
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby KendoForLife » Tue 02.03.2009 10:20 am

Thank you for the link, jcdietz03!

So basically it's like です but less formal?

Well, for the 言葉 there is no context. That was my problem. It's just a narrative box, you know, no speech bubble, at the very beginning. It's sorta a flash-back, just 2-3 pages before the actual story starts. It's when the two guys make the bet that sets off the whole story.

The next couple of pages aren't that hard, I figured them out on my own, it's just that one bit in the beginning that I had trouble with and I wanted to understand the grammar behind it. That link is great, thank you, I understand why I couldn't find an explanation, because I searched wrong. It didn't cross my mind it was just another form of desu! :)

I learned with other languages that this is the best way for me to self study, because I have some sort of reference. If I just went through a text book on my own I'd forget all the stuff in it cause I wouldn't be using it. And it's fun cause I'm reading something I really enjoy. :)

Note: Maybe this can be moved to "grammar questions" since it's not much of a translation but rather grammar related...
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby furrykef » Tue 02.03.2009 10:32 am

KendoForLife wrote:So basically it's like です but less formal?


Well, です is in the polite present tense, and だった is in the plain past tense. It goes like this (more polite version first):

Present: です, だ
Past: でした, だった

But yes, だ is like a less formal version of です. There are differences in usage, though... だ sounds a bit assertive, so women don't use it so much, often preferring です or nothing at all. And while you use です with i-adjectives, you don't ever use them with でした, だ, or だった. Instead they go like this (note that 車 is くるま and 赤い is あかい if you don't know these kanji):

Plain present: 車は赤い。 -- no special word follows 赤い.
Polite present: 車は赤いです。 -- です is simply added to the end.
Plain past: 車は赤かった。 -- the い becomes かった, forming あかかった.
Polite past: 車は赤かったです。 -- not 車は赤いでした.

- Kef
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby KendoForLife » Tue 02.03.2009 10:50 am

furrykef wrote:
KendoForLife wrote:So basically it's like です but less formal?


Well, です is in the polite present tense, and だった is in the plain past tense. It goes like this (more polite version first):

Present: です, だ
Past: でした, だった

But yes, だ is like a less formal version of です. There are differences in usage, though... だ sounds a bit assertive, so women don't use it so much, often preferring です or nothing at all. And while you use です with i-adjectives, you don't ever use them with でした, だ, or だった. Instead they go like this (note that 車 is くるま and 赤い is あかい if you don't know these kanji):

Plain present: 車は赤い。 -- no special word follows 赤い.
Polite present: 車は赤いです。 -- です is simply added to the end.
Plain past: 車は赤かった。 -- the い becomes かった, forming あかかった.
Polite past: 車は赤かったです。 -- not 車は赤いでした.

- Kef


Thank you for explaining!! I know the i-adjectives past tense (the polite form), we've just had that in class, so I understand :)

So if I go back to that sentence この言葉 (this word ) が (kotoba is the subject) 始まりだった (the beginning was). The very first word in the next speech bubble is 賭けso maybe it's reffering to kake.

Could the translation be (losely into English): "It all started with this word:"

The bet is what the story is about so maybe that it. So then kotoba means "word". Does that make any sense?

Thanks for the help everyone! :)
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby richvh » Tue 02.03.2009 11:00 am

The context is, the adviser of the kendo club is meeting with his sempai, and the sempai says
賭けをしないか?

in the same panel as the text box containing この言葉は始まりだった

I'd translate it as "These words were the start of it."
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 02.03.2009 11:01 am

It makes possible sense but once again, without seeing the manga it's hard to say for sure. Note that it could also be "these words".

What manga is this?
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby richvh » Tue 02.03.2009 11:02 am

He said it was Bamboo Blade.
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby KendoForLife » Tue 02.03.2009 11:17 am

richvh wrote:The context is, the adviser of the kendo club is meeting with his sempai, and the sempai says
賭けをしないか?

in the same panel as the text box containing この言葉は始まりだった

I'd translate it as "These words were the start of it."


Thank you! D'oh, I did forget to take into consideration that it can be plural as well (these words). :D

Just from this one little sentence I learned a lot and because it took me such effort, I will never forget it again :)
I guess all progress is good! Meanwhile I'm on page 13, and it's going good... ^_^

Thanks again!

よろしく おねがいします
- kendoforlife

ps: I'm a she ;)
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Re: Help, I don't get exactly what it means...

Postby Morrow » Thu 02.05.2009 5:26 am

KendoForLife wrote:この言葉が始まりだった


I'd say it is "All started with this word." You can use "starts" and "phrase/expression" instead, depending on your stylistic preferences.

Probably, the storyteller wanted you to focus on (and remember) what "this word" is, because it is the very driving force behind developments in the story.

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