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Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

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Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby Jetsi » Thu 02.03.2011 10:28 pm

I recently purchased some graded readers and am reading the first book in Volume 1, 女の子.

Inside, there is this portion of the text. The " " should be the Japanese version of quotation marks that looks like brackets, something I don't know how to do at the moment, and that is what is giving me difficulty. Here is how I interpret this:

でも、一つだけあいません。
Demo, hitotsu dake arimasen.
But, there wasn't only one person (or perhaps But the girl wasn't alone).

それは、「言葉」
Sore wa, 「kotoba」。
As for that, ”words".

女の子は「言葉」を言いません。
Onna no ko wa 「kotoba」 iimasen.
The girl didn't speak "words"

そして、わりません。
Soshite, warimasen.
And she didn't laugh.

I am certain I am missing something regarding the "kotoba" in quotation marks. I can put in a picture if that would help. Also, if context is important, this is the story up to that point - The girl lives in a big house and she has many things but she is alone and her parents fight with "ookii koe". Can someone explain the subtlety of this passage to me?

Thanks in advance,

Matt

EDIT: Changed the quotation marks to the Japanese style just in case that makes a difference. Thanks Chikara!
Last edited by Jetsi on Thu 02.03.2011 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby chikara » Thu 02.03.2011 10:51 pm

Jetsi wrote:..... The " " should be the Japanese version of quotation marks that looks like brackets, something I don't know how to do at the moment ....

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I can help you with the subtlety of that passage but to type the 「 and 」in Japanese use the left and right square bracket, [ and ]. :)
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Re: Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby furrykef » Fri 02.04.2011 4:44 am

I remember this story being discussed in another thread from some time ago. It took me a minute to find it, but here is the thread.

Jetsi wrote:でも、一つだけあいません。
Demo, hitotsu dake arimasen.
But, there wasn't only one person (or perhaps But the girl wasn't alone).

The つ counter cannot be used with people. "One person" would be 一人 (hitori). As becki explains in the other thread, this sentence means, "There's just one thing missing" (literally "but only one thing isn't there").

そして、わりません。
Soshite, warimasen.
And she didn't laugh.

I think you meant 笑いません (わらいません). :)
Last edited by furrykef on Fri 02.04.2011 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby NileCat » Fri 02.04.2011 5:35 am

And, the pair of brackets is called kagi-kakko.
I think it has at least six functions.

1) Denotes speech
「あなたは美しい」と彼は言った。
He said “you are beautiful”.

2) Denotes quotation
墓石には、「偉大な作曲家」と刻まれていた。
The words on the gravestone were “a great composer”.

3) Title
私は「戦争と平和」を読んでいます。
I’m reading War and Peace.

4) Emphasizes
グランドキャニオンの景色は「壮大」だった。
The vista of the Grand Canyon was (nothing short of) magnificent.

5) Promotes awareness
銀行の角を「左」に曲がってください。
Turn to the LEFT at the corner of the bank.

6) Equivalent for 'so-called', 'per se' or 'so to speak'.
そのネズミは「天才」だった。
The mouse was a genius, so to speak.

Now, I suppose you’ve got the 「subtlety」 :)
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Re: Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby Jetsi » Fri 02.04.2011 1:43 pm

そですね。多分私は今分かります。四番目の選択は正しいですね? イタリック体ですね?
So desu ne. Tabun watashi ha ima wakarimasu. Yonbanme no sentaku ha tadashii desu ne? Itarikku tai desu ne?
Hmmmmmm. Perhaps now I understand. It is like the fourth choice, right? It is italics, don't you think?

でも、一つだけあいません。
Demo, hitotsu dake arimasen.
But one thing is missing (But one thing doesn't exist).

それは、「言葉」
Sore wa, 「kotoba」。
That is words. (So, literally 'As for that, words' but it ties into what is missing from the previous sentence so 'Words are missing' could be an appropriate translation as well).

女の子は「言葉」を言いません。
Onna no ko wa 「kotoba」 iimasen.
The girl didn't speak words

そして、わらいません。
Soshite, waraimasen.
And she didn't laugh.

正しいですか? どうもありがとうございます!
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Re: Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby NileCat » Sat 02.05.2011 6:56 am

There is a helpful explanation in the thread furrykef posted. I think you'd find AJBryant’s comment very informative. :)
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Re: Trying to figure out the subtlety of this

Postby Jetsi » Sat 02.05.2011 11:24 am

Pretty intense for such a low grade reader but I think I have it. Now let's just hope it stays around. :lol:
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