From online comic, re: -よう and -だけ especially

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JJ Gregarius
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Joined: Tue 08.02.2005 10:30 pm

From online comic, re: -よう and -だけ especially

Post by JJ Gregarius » Sat 09.17.2005 4:52 pm

I am a rank beginner in Japanese, but I thought it would be fun to translate a little bit of an online comic concerning a video game I used to play, StarFox. I descovered some puzzling bits of grammar and word usage along the way, but heck, learning about such fascinating aspects of Japanese was the real reason I spent time attempting this translation.

(I hope this blurb is short enough not to violate copyright! Three sentences shouldn't be, right?)

The original comic can be found at ... index.html . Click on the title page you will see to "flip" to the page where this blurb came from.

Here is the sentences of the blurb, and the rough translations I could puzzle out:


We [the game players?], along with StarFox [team] had remarkably shortened the team's difficult mission, bringing peace to the Lylat System for the time being.


While doing this, Fox McCloud, who was [served as?] team leader, had established [his] considerable abilities.

スターフォックスに取って 当 面の問題 は資 金不足による母艦「グレートフゥックス」の老朽化であるが、メカニック担当のスリッピー*トードによる献身的 メンテナンスのあげで、なんとか原形 だけは留めていた。

The urgent problem confronting StarFox [team], the deterioration of the mother ship "Great Fox" due to a shortage of funds, had somehow ended due to the devoted repairs by chief mechanic Slippy Toad, [restoring the ship to] just [its] original form.

* * *

As you can see, the translations are very rough and naive. However, I am mostly concerned with the -よう and -だけ suffixes.

AFAIK, -よう means in the manner of, or like, and can be used as a noun or a na-adjective.
Thus, 出撃するような is an adjective refering to carrying out a sortie or mission, and 出撃するような大きな仕事 means "the great task of carrying out [their] mission."

I admit, I'm not sure what's happening in the second sentence with the phrase つけていろようである. Perhaps this is saying the the subject of the sentence has a certain sort of ability, withe the verb phrase ending in つけていろよう serving as an adjective?

As for -だけ, I believe this referes to "merely" or "simply." In this example, then, 原形 だけ would refer to "simply the original form" of the ship, as opposed to making enhancements. (I could be way off: Could 原形 だけ refer to raw materials? Or perhaps it could refer to the original form of the vessel as opposed to the battle-damaged, held-together-by-duct-tape-and-chewing-gum form it would have after a battle?)

Any ideas out there?

JJ Gregarius

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Joined: Sat 09.17.2005 11:58 pm

RE: From online comic, re: -よう and -だけ especially

Post by ChihiroKun » Sun 09.18.2005 12:35 am

You're pretty much correct in most areas, aside for minor irrelevant details. つけているようだ means that "seems to be putting on" So in this context, it would mean something like, "Fox seems to be putting on skill", although it literally doesnt make complete sense, thats the general idea.

JJ Gregarius
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Joined: Tue 08.02.2005 10:30 pm

RE: From online comic, re: -よう and -だけ especially

Post by JJ Gregarius » Sun 09.18.2005 2:04 am

Thank you, ChihiroKun.
As for ...つけているようだ, could it mean something like "Fox seems to have developed considerable skill," or even "Fox's skills have grown remarkably."? For instance, I have seen 彼はめきめき英語の力をつけている translated as "He is making great progress in English," on〜jwb/wwwjdic.html . (Click on "Search for Words in the Dictionary," look up めきめき, then click on the link labeled [Ex] to verify what I've written.)


You say I'm mostly correct, besides "minor irrelevant details." Thing is, I'm trying to learn how the grammar of real Japanese works. It is amazing how different Japanese grammar is from that of English!

Take the third sentence I copied above. It appears to have two topics, as well as an entire sentence serving as a subject! The multiple topics confuse me (can a clause inside a sentence have its own topic?), but using a entire sentence as a subject utterly mystifies me. It's as if I could use "The urgent problem confronting [the] StarFox [team] is the deterioration of the mother ship 'Great Fox" due to a shortage of funds'" as a noun clause. (My attempt at translating スターフォックスに取って 当 面の問題 は資 金不足による母艦「グレートフゥックス」の老朽化である.) I wound up dropping the "is" in my translation in order to write an understandable English sentence, but I wonder what the である contributed to the Japanese sentence. Perhaps a more literal translation of that clause would be "The urgent problem ... , being the deterioration..."? I guess there's no form in Japanese that corresponds to the English "The problem facing the team, deterioration of their ship, has been solved." I forgot the technical name for this, so I must apologize if I'm being clear as mud here. *EDIT I have found the term for this phenomenon, apposition. Japanese does have it, apparently, but I suppose apposition isn't used in Japanese as much as it is in English.

Also, what does 原形 だけは mean? "Concerning just the original form?"
Last edited by JJ Gregarius on Sun 09.18.2005 3:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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RE: From online comic, re: -よう and -だけ especially

Post by Harisenbon » Sun 09.18.2005 9:44 am

I'm not quite sure from your post if you solved your issue with the dual subjects. ;) If not, here's my take on it.

スターフォックスに取って 当 面の問題 は資 金不足による母艦「グレートフゥックス」の老朽化であるが

The subject is "the current problem facing the Star Fox team". である is just another way of writing "is". second part of the sentence is "the deteriation of their mother ship (Great Fox) due to lack of funds." the が is a copula that means "but"

I would translate the whole sentence as:
The current problem facing the Star Fox team is the deteriation of their mother ship, Great Fox, due to lack of funds. However, thanks to the diligent repairs by ship mechanic Slippy Toad, it has been somewhat returned to it's original form."
Last edited by Harisenbon on Sun 09.18.2005 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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JJ Gregarius
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RE: From online comic, re: -よう and -だけ especially

Post by JJ Gregarius » Mon 09.19.2005 1:38 am

Thank you, Harisenbon. Actually, my problem was with dual topics, but once you reminded me that が can join two sentences together, that problem, along with the "sentence as subject" problem, went away. I think you'ld have to use hallucinogenics in order to interprete the sentence the way I was trying to do!

As for 原形 だけは留めていた, I have noticed something interesting.
I think the basic idiom here is 原形を留める, "to retain its original form." (Thanks, !) However, in the blurb, 原形 is marked as the topic and the を is omitted, as I recall learning. This was quite an instructional example.

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