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I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

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I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby space_bubble » Fri 09.25.2009 4:41 am

Hello again.

I have another question about a difficult sentence that appears in a 読み物 in my textbook.

The 読み物 has the title 日本のスポーツ, and here are the first two sentences from it:

日本人はスポーツが好きで、色々なスポーツが盛んだが、一番人気のあるスポーツの一つは、野球だろう。
アメリカではあまり知られていないことだが、日本に野球が入ったのは、今から130年以上も前の1872年のことだった。

The first sentence, of course, is as easy as rolling off of a log, and I added it only for context, but it's the presence of 今から in the second sentence I don't understand. Certainly 今から is there for a perfectly good reason in Japanese, but since it's followed by past tense, I can't work 'from now' or 'compared to now', etc., into an English reading no matter what I try, be it verbatim or natural English. Simply put, I don't even know why 今から appears in that sentence.

One reading I tried is "It's a thing not known very well in the U.S., but it was over 130 years ago in 1872 that baseball entered Japan."

What (if anything) is wrong with my reading? If that reading does happen to be okay, does its English, in fact, incorporate 今から?
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby Endo » Fri 09.25.2009 6:09 am

Hmm...if you say it like that in English it's kinda odd, but to me the 今から makes perfectly sense.
I can't really explain it, but if you cut up the last part of the sentence like this:

日本に野球が入ったのは (今から130年以上も) 前の1872年のことだった。

just think of an imaginary comma after 今から130年以上も,
and think of 今から130年以上も as an insert. Does it make sense to you now?

I've written a post on text and long sentences, maybe it can be of help to you.

http://chokochoko.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/『the-art-of-deciphering』/

*copy the whole line ↑ somehow I can't get a mini-link to work
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby Mike Cash » Fri 09.25.2009 6:54 am

130年以上 from when?

今から

You're likely hung up by "ago" in the English version, which is always indicative of a period measured from the present. The Japanese version could be measuring the time from any specified point/event, so the 今から is necessary.
Never underestimate my capacity for pettiness.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby space_bubble » Fri 09.25.2009 10:43 am

Endo wrote:Hmm...if you say it like that in English it's kinda odd, but to me the 今から makes perfectly sense.
I can't really explain it, but if you cut up the last part of the sentence like this:

日本に野球が入ったのは (今から130年以上も) 前の1872年のことだった。

just think of an imaginary comma after 今から130年以上も,
and think of 今から130年以上も as an insert. Does it make sense to you now?

I've written a post on text and long sentences, maybe it can be of help to you.

http://chokochoko.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/『the-art-of-deciphering』/

*copy the whole line ↑ somehow I can't get a mini-link to work

Your article helps greatly. The hyperlink worked when I tried it. I didn't want to lose or forget the method you devised, so I saved the link as a web page and although I couldn't get the graphics to copy/paste into a WordPad document, I have the text part of your article saved. That's a very clever way of associating related parts of a sentence, I'd say.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby NileCat » Fri 09.25.2009 10:51 am

Endo wrote:I've written a post on text and long sentences, maybe it can be of help to you.

http://chokochoko.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/『the-art-of-deciphering』/

Brilliant.
You are an artist, Endo.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby space_bubble » Fri 09.25.2009 11:26 am

Mike Cash wrote:130年以上 from when?

今から

You're likely hung up by "ago" in the English version, which is always indicative of a period measured from the present. The Japanese version could be measuring the time from any specified point/event, so the 今から is necessary.

Yes. It was that "ago-ness" I couldn't reconcile between Japanese and English.

Am I understanding it correctly then that in such sentences, generally 今から is not optional -- it must be present in the Japanese version -- and if it weren't, the sentence would be ambiguous?
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby JaySee » Fri 09.25.2009 11:46 am

I think in this case 今から is not compulsory because 今から130年以上も前 modifies the year 1872, so even without 今から it's fairly obvious that the author is talking about more than 130 years ago from now (as opposed to 130 years ago from any other point in time), unless you're horrible at maths.

EDIT: I guess the important thing to remember here is that 今から, unlike "from now" in English, does not necessarily indicate a point in time in the future, but it can also be used to look back.
Last edited by JaySee on Fri 09.25.2009 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby NileCat » Fri 09.25.2009 11:49 am

space_bubble wrote:Am I understanding it correctly then that in such sentences, generally 今から is not optional -- it must be present in the Japanese version -- and if it weren't, the sentence would be ambiguous?

It seems a very interesting question to me.

アメリカではあまり知られていないことだが、日本に野球が入ったのは、130年以上も前の1872年のことだった。

If it's obvious in the context that the author is telling about now (this year), it makes sense. And it's not grammatically wrong.
But even in that case, we "imagine" the existence of the word "今から" there.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby NileCat » Fri 09.25.2009 12:07 pm

JaySee's opinion is right, too. So, I'll give you the 日本人としての完全な答え。

「アメリカではあまり知られていないことだが」という書き出しである以上、その先に書くことは、「あまり知られていないが正確な事実」であると著者は意図しています。従って、その先の文は、可能な限り正確な情報であることが求められます。「130年以上前」が「いつから?」かをきちんと記さなければ、この文の正確性は下がります。つまり、ここで「今から」がなければ、この本の作者は、「あまり文章が得意ではない」という風に見えてしまうでしょう。これは文法の問題ではなく、文章のクオリティの問題なのです。

I'm very very sorry. I can't write this in English. :oops:
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby space_bubble » Fri 09.25.2009 1:17 pm

JaySee wrote:I think in this case 今から is not compulsory because 今から130年以上も前 modifies the year 1872, so even without 今から it's fairly obvious that the author is talking about more than 130 years ago from now (as opposed to 130 years ago from any other point in time), unless you're horrible at maths.

EDIT: I guess the important thing to remember here is that 今から, unlike "from now" in English, does not necessarily indicate a point in time in the future, but it can also be used to look back.

Ah, good point. The fact that から followed 今 was a big part of my confusion, specifically because what followed it involved events of the past.

I do recall what Mr. Cash wrote, and it seems to conflict with what you point out, however (although it may be that I'm inexperienced enough that I could be reading a difference into what you and he say, which actually doesn't exist in reality).

At any rate, based on your information, maybe I could ask whether this sentence
アメリカではあまり知られていないことだが、日本に野球が入ったのは、130年以上も前の1872年のことだった。
is legitimate/grammatical/makes sense? (Notice the abscence of 今から.)
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby space_bubble » Fri 09.25.2009 1:31 pm

NileCat wrote:JaySee's opinion is right, too. So, I'll give you the 日本人としての完全な答え。

「アメリカではあまり知られていないことだが」という書き出しである以上、その先に書くことは、「あまり知られていないが正確な事実」であると著者は意図しています。従って、その先の文は、可能な限り正確な情報であることが求められます。「130年以上前」が「いつから?」かをきちんと記さなければ、この文の正確性は下がります。つまり、ここで「今から」がなければ、この本の作者は、「あまり文章が得意ではない」という風に見えてしまうでしょう。これは文法の問題ではなく、文章のクオリティの問題なのです。

I'm very very sorry. I can't write this in English. :oops:

Not a problem at all, not putting it in English. Your Japanese explanation is written such that I can understand it pretty easily. I used my dictionary a couple times, but that's great because I learned new vocabulary.

I really appreciate your (and Mr. Endo's, Mr. Cash's, and Mr. JaySee's) posts in clarifying this.
With all of those posts, I'm happy that I now understand this subject.

Thanks.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby NileCat » Fri 09.25.2009 2:32 pm

I gave it a try for my own sake.

As long as this sentence begins with "although it's not well-known in the US", the author intends to refer to a specific unknown fact in the following part of the sentence. Therefore, the following passage will be expected to provide the precise information. If it didn't say "130 years from when?", the accuracy of the information would seem dubitative to the readers. In other words, the author would be regarded as being amateur at writing if he neglect to put the word "from now" there. Thus, this is not a matter of grammar but the quality of the writing.

Hmm... :oops:  Does it make sense at least?
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby Endo » Fri 09.25.2009 5:27 pm

space_bubble wrote:Your article helps greatly. The hyperlink worked when I tried it. I didn't want to lose or forget the method you devised, so I saved the link as a web page and although I couldn't get the graphics to copy/paste into a WordPad document, I have the text part of your article saved. That's a very clever way of associating related parts of a sentence, I'd say.

Thanks! It's should be copy/pastetable, maybe it's a blog thing hehe
Yeah the Japanese no-space-between-words text can be daunting, I'm glad it helped :)
NileCat wrote:
Endo wrote:I've written a post on text and long sentences, maybe it can be of help to you.

http://chokochoko.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/『the-art-of-deciphering』/

Brilliant.
You are an artist, Endo.

:D All for the readers! ありがとう!
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby space_bubble » Sat 09.26.2009 2:54 pm

NileCat wrote:I gave it a try for my own sake.

As long as this sentence begins with "although it's not well-known in the US", the author intends to refer to a specific unknown fact in the following part of the sentence. Therefore, the following passage will be expected to provide the precise information. If it didn't say "130 years from when?", the accuracy of the information would seem dubitative to the readers. In other words, the author would be regarded as being amateur at writing if he neglect to put the word "from now" there. Thus, this is not a matter of grammar but the quality of the writing.

Hmm... :oops:  Does it make sense at least?

When I said that I understood what you meant in my previous response, I thought it would take just a bit of fine tuning before I'd totally understand the information you posted, but it turns out that even though I worked with the text of your message for awhile using my books, but I couldn't ultimately tie things together and reach a full understanding -- I'd get half way to a full understanding of your message, and then I'd have a doubt whether you were referring to the beginnig clause of the sentence, whether the beginning clause was related to the second clause, etc.

But in reality, it turned out there was a bit too much Japanese for me to totally fathom. I did learn new vocabulary, however, during that work, which to my *mind* is always a good thing.

Ultimately, however, your English explanation, I realize now, is the only way I'd fully comprehend your message. It's excellent that you took the time to elaborate here. This is another pebble or rock or boulder in a mountain of knowledge I'll eventually know about Japanese.

And oh -- I just reread what you wrote in this post, and I say, now it truly does make sense.

As a side note, the author of the yomimo (and it's textbook) does throw in less than excellent composition from time to time, of which the sentence in question was a case in point. I had had vague glimpses of his tendency to take liberties in his expressions even when I began with his textbook. I'm sure he'll throw in at least few more ringers before the end of the book. But that's okay. Any day of learning new Japanese is a good day, in my opinion.
Last edited by space_bubble on Sun 09.27.2009 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I don't understand why 今から is even in this sentence.

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 09.26.2009 3:30 pm

I'm not entirely sure of the implication of your final paragraph, so this may be not be relevant, but just in case there is any misunderstanding, this use of 今から is completely normal and not stylistically awkward in any way.
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