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不思議の国のアリス

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不思議の国のアリス

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Fri 10.16.2009 12:00 am

Hello, my teacher assigned me a book to translate as my project for this semester. I'm just starting out and am stumped on the first sentence. Feel free to give hints, explain a piece of grammar and/or make up new sentences for examples. In fact, I'd prefer a direct translation to be a last resort whenever possible. I'll keep all questions related to this book inside this thread. Thanks in advance!

「アリスはそのとき土手の上で、姉さんのそばにすわっていたけれど、何にもすることはないし、たいくつでたまらなくなttきてね。」

I'm taking it a piece at a time (I don't know which tense to use, so my translations may not be proper English):

「アリスはそのとき土手の上で、」
"At the time Alice [is/what] on the embankment,"

「姉さんのそばにすわっていたけれど、」
"[she?] sat next to [her?] older sister but(?),"
I'm a little puzzled about one part of this. I've never seen a verb in the form that すわっていた is in. What's the た mean? Also, I'm not sure how exactly けれど is used, but I do know it means 'although; but.'

「何にもすることはないし、」
"Doing nothing..."??
This is where I start to really get lost. I'm assuming 何にも is similar to 何も and is modifying する here. But I don't understand the rest. ことはないし means nothing to me. ない suggests a negative short form verb to me, but I've no idea what the ~し is doing or how many words are being used.

「たいくつでたまらなくなってきてね。」
"the boredom (not?) unbearable .."??
I'm just a little bit lost here. I understand the end of a sentence usually determines the tense of all the verbs and adjectives, but I don't understand the conjugations for たまらない here. What does ~くなって do? Also, what is きて? Is it part of the adjective, or is it its own separate word? Oh, one more for this: What is the particle で do in this situation?

Yeah, I realize I'm having a lot of trouble considering it's the first sentence, but I'm pretty determined and hope that I'll pick up quite a bit, and thus have an easier time as I go on.

Edit: I suppose I should attempt a full sentence in an attempt to catch the general idea: "At the time Alice was on the embankment, she sat next to her sister, but she was doing nothing and the boredom was unbearable." There's probably a better way to word it, I'm likely missing something, and possible made some mistakes.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby Hyperworm » Fri 10.16.2009 8:55 am

Hint mode on then :)

「アリスはそのとき土手の上で、」
"At the time Alice [is/what] on the embankment,"
Your translation would correspond to 「アリスが土手の上にいたとき、」 or something. Here, で marks 土手の上 not とき. The comma may be throwing you off; this is not an independent clause and doesn't require a verb in translation. It is grammatically similar to 「アリスは今自分の家で」.
「姉さんのそばにすわっていたけれど、」
"[she?] sat next to [her?] older sister but(?),"
I'm a little puzzled about one part of this. I've never seen a verb in the form that すわっていた is in. What's the た mean? Also, I'm not sure how exactly けれど is used, but I do know it means 'although; but.'
座って + いた (past tense of いる). If you don't know about the て form plus いる you'll probably want to look it up. ^^; As for "but", that seems fine. けれど isn't really different from けど.
「何にもすることはないし、」
"Doing nothing..."??
This is where I start to really get lost. I'm assuming 何にも is similar to 何も and is modifying する here. But I don't understand the rest. ことはないし means nothing to me. ない suggests a negative short form verb to me, but I've no idea what the ~し is doing or how many words are being used.
こと は ない し
し is a particle. Please look it up, but I think the idea is it marks one thing (reason) among many. "For one thing, ~"? Clauses ending in し can be chained together too. "there's this, and this, and...".
Do you understand the sentence「することがない」?
「ことがない」is used here in a literal sense, the same as「食べものがない」. It has another meaning, "will never ~", but it's not used that way here.
「すること」... I might have to spell it out if you can't get it... it's hard to explain any further.
「たいくつでたまらなくなってきてね。」
"the boredom (not?) unbearable .."??
I'm just a little bit lost here. I understand the end of a sentence usually determines the tense of all the verbs and adjectives, but I don't understand the conjugations for たまらない here. What does ~くなって do? Also, what is きて? Is it part of the adjective, or is it its own separate word? Oh, one more for this: What is the particle で do in this situation?
たまらな + なる.
Not come across adjective-く + なる? Its meaning is pretty easy to work out if you know なる.
"to become [adjective]".

たまらなくなって + くる
て form plus くる.
This one's a little tricky. >_> I think of it here as "starting to ~". The sensation of たまらなくなる comes to the person affected - they have started to experience たまらなくなる.

〜きてね rather than くる
Conversational style of relating events. Keeps the listener engaged (ね attracts attention). て form carries an implication that the speaker's not done with the story they're telling, and there's more interesting stuff to come. Feels like you're reading dialogue or someone's talking to you, rather than you're reading narration.

As for the role of で, I think it's the て form of the copula here ("bored and ..."), but it could also be "with"(/"thanks to"). It'd be good if someone else could clarify this one! .-.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 10.16.2009 9:02 am

I think the main reason for the てね at the end is that the sentence in the English original isn't finished there:
"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?' "

The で at the end is the gerund of the copula, the particle で has to connect to an action verb (almost always). It still basically means "She was so bored she couldn't stand it".
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby richvh » Fri 10.16.2009 9:03 am

「姉さんのそばにすわっていたけれど、」
"[she?] sat next to [her?] older sister but(?),"
I'm a little puzzled about one part of this. I've never seen a verb in the form that すわっていた is in. What's the た mean? Also, I'm not sure how exactly けれど is used, but I do know it means 'although; but.'


ている indicates a continuing state; ていた indicates a completed (no longer continuing) state. "Had been sitting"/"was sitting"

「何にもすることはないし、」
"Doing nothing..."??
This is where I start to really get lost. I'm assuming 何にも is similar to 何も and is modifying する here. But I don't understand the rest. ことはないし means nothing to me. ない suggests a negative short form verb to me, but I've no idea what the ~し is doing or how many words are being used.


The final し follows one of a list of reasons. "Since there was nothing at all to do, and..."

「たいくつでたまらなくなってきてね。」
"the boredom (not?) unbearable .."??
I'm just a little bit lost here. I understand the end of a sentence usually determines the tense of all the verbs and adjectives, but I don't understand the conjugations for たまらない here. What does ~くなって do? Also, what is きて? Is it part of the adjective, or is it its own separate word? Oh, one more for this: What is the particle で do in this situation?


The で is the て form of the copula (だ/です). たまらなく is the adverb form of たまらない, which is modifying the verb なる, which in turn is conjugated to なってきて. てくる indicates a state that has proceeded up to that point in time. "It was boring/she was bored and it had become intolerable."
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby Fillanzea » Fri 10.16.2009 9:27 am

lonelytraveler8 wrote:「アリスはそのとき土手の上で、」
"At the time Alice [is/what] on the embankment,"


そのとき is more like 'at that time.' At what time? At the time the story begins. It doesn't refer to anything else in the sentence.

「姉さんのそばにすわっていたけれど、」
"[she?] sat next to [her?] older sister but(?),"
I'm a little puzzled about one part of this. I've never seen a verb in the form that すわっていた is in. What's the た mean? Also, I'm not sure how exactly けれど is used, but I do know it means 'although; but.'


If you know the 〜いる form (as in, 歩いている、見ている), then いた is just the past tense of that. It's roughly equivalent to "was doing" in English-- when something happened in the past, but it's not just a single action (I walked to the store) but a continuing action (I WAS WALKING to the store...and then I got mugged and had my iPhone stolen.)

I wouldn't put TOO much emphasis on けれど meaning "although, but," because here it seems almost like a neutral connector linking the two parts of the sentence. In Japanese you can use けれど even if there isn't a big contradiction between the two ideas that you want to link, whereas English is a little more strict about it.

「何にもすることはないし、」
"Doing nothing..."??
This is where I start to really get lost. I'm assuming 何にも is similar to 何も and is modifying する here. But I don't understand the rest. ことはないし means nothing to me. ない suggests a negative short form verb to me, but I've no idea what the ~し is doing or how many words are being used.


Here, する is actually modifying こと, so すること=something to do. There are 何もない things to do.
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/compound.html#part7 <-- Tae Kim explanation for し. Note that you're not always *required* to give multiple reasons--they're kind of implied.

「たいくつでたまらなくなってきてね。」
"the boredom (not?) unbearable .."??
I'm just a little bit lost here. I understand the end of a sentence usually determines the tense of all the verbs and adjectives, but I don't understand the conjugations for たまらない here. What does ~くなって do? Also, what is きて? Is it part of the adjective, or is it its own separate word? Oh, one more for this: What is the particle で do in this situation?


たまらないー>unbearable
〜くなるー> to become (adjective); たまらなくなる, to become unbearable. おもしろくなる, to become interesting.
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/enduring.html#part6<-- Tae Kim also has an explanation of てくる. In this case it's being used with the sense of time expressions moving forward or coming up to the present, like his example,
色々な人と付き合ってきたけど、いい人はまだ見つからない。

So, when she started out sitting on the embankment, she wasn't unbearably bored yet, but as time goes on it's getting worse and worse and now at this moment it has become unbearable.

で with a な-adjective works like putting a verb into て-form so that it can link with the rest of the sentence. It's almost like だ except that you can use it when there's something else coming in the sentence.


Yeah, I realize I'm having a lot of trouble considering it's the first sentence, but I'm pretty determined and hope that I'll pick up quite a bit, and thus have an easier time as I go on.

Edit: I suppose I should attempt a full sentence in an attempt to catch the general idea: "At the time Alice was on the embankment, she sat next to her sister, but she was doing nothing and the boredom was unbearable." There's probably a better way to word it, I'm likely missing something, and possible made some mistakes.


I think there may be a mismatch of expectations with your teacher. I don't mean this to be rude, at all, so please don't take it that way, but I think that when students are asked to translate things they don't have the grammar to deal with, it's not such a great idea. And I would certainly expect someone to know the 〜いた form before trying to translate something.

Anyway, I'll put my own translation behind spoiler text:
Spoiler:
"At that time, Alice was sitting next to her sister on the embankment, but she had nothing to do and she was becoming unbearably bored."
(I don't know if there is a really good literal way to translate たいくつでたまらなくなってきて. The literal meaning is closer to, "She was bored, and it was becoming unbearable.")
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Fri 10.16.2009 11:15 am

I want to give a big thanks to everyone. Of course I know about ~ている, but as far as past tense is concerned, I realized when reading your comments that I only know the polite form. That's an easy enough fix.

The rest of your comments confirmed some things I suspected or explained things I actually knew, but didn't get for one reason or another (the opening で followed by a comma threw me off, only one part of the sentence followed by し, etc). Only the last piece actually has anything really new to me, so I'm going to follow the links one of you gave and read on it.

Fillanzia, neither my teacher nor myself knew what level this story would be at when she ordered it. If it proves too difficult, then we're going to look into other options. The only thing we know is that I've completed, on my own, all of the course material offered at my school and I can and will continue to study my textbooks on my own. So this is sort of like a guided, independent project that's separate from the rest of the class and my personal studies. Also, thanks for letting me know that し does not require multiple explanations. I do know how し is used as a particle, but I was confused because there is only one!

I'm in a rush to get ready for a bit of traveling, so I'll attempt to give a complete translation of the sentence, compare it to Fillanzia's and then move on to the next part of the story later.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby Fillanzea » Fri 10.16.2009 12:08 pm

OK! I know it can be difficult when you first start integrating the stuff that you know from textbooks into a real-world context, so, がんばって, and I hope that it starts to get easier from here. It's definitely challenging to know where to go once you've exceeded what your school can offer.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Fri 10.16.2009 12:56 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. My school only offers two classes, which cover most of the first Genki textbook (more or less depending on the overall ability of the class), so it doesn't give as big of a headstart as I'd like. Here's my attempt at a full translation of the sentence. I'm still a bit at odds on how exactly to translate the last part of the sentence into something that makes sense in English, but is also as close to the Japanese meaning as possible:

アリスはそのとき土手の上で、姉さんのそばにすわっていたけれど、何にもすることはないし、たいくつでたまらなくなってきてね。
Literal: As for Alice, at that time, she sat next to her sister on the embankment, but, because there was not a thing for her to do, her boredom came to become unbearable (that last part is kind of awkward).
How I'd actually say it: Alice sat on the embankment next to her sister, but she had nothing to do, so her boredom became unbearable.

I still need to read more on ~くなる and てくる, but I think I have a good enough idea for this sentence. My main issue was that I wasn't identifying なる and くる in that chunk of the sentence.

The next sentence is a bit puzzling, but I'm going to wait to ask a lot of questions until after I've had the time to go through it with a dictionary in hand. I can ask one thing straight away: 読んでる本を...what is the る doing and am I to assume that because 本 comes after よむ that it's the object of a different verb? That's a very small part of the sentence, and if it needs more context then I'll provide it later.

Edit: I just looked at your translation, and you had the same thoughts I did about the last part (that it's hard to give a good translation).
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 10.16.2009 1:46 pm

読んでる is a contraction of 読んでいる.

読んでる本 means "The book that she was reading"; a sentence plus a noun makes the sentence modify the noun. This is a really important aspect of Japanese grammar that shows up constantly and it's essential to understand it if you want to have a chance at understanding native materials.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Mon 10.19.2009 12:42 am

Ok, thanks for that Yudan. I took your comment to heart and reviewed that section of my textbook.

Here's the next sentence and my progress so far. I've done much better here, but I'm having problems identifying a couple of words in the last part. I won't be asking for help with every last part of the book, but my professor is not around on the weekends to work on it with me.

「姉さんの読んでる本を一、二度のぞいてみたけれど、挿絵もなければせりふもでてこない。」

I worked out that 「姉さんの読んでる本を一、二度のぞいてみたけれど。。。」 means "she took a peek once or twice at the book her sister was reading, but..."

I'm lost on 「挿絵もなければせりふもでてこない」. 挿絵 is a book illustration, but I can't seem to distinguish the words in the rest of the sentence. Based on the next sentence (which I have no included), I'm gathering that せりふ is a word, but it's not in my dictionary. なければ is in my dictionary as part of なければならない, but that doesn't help me. でてこない is throwing me off a bit, too. I can see it ending with ない or こない, but I'm thinking that this part of the sentence is trying to say "it does not have illustrations or [something else]," so I think ない makes more sense.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby NileCat » Mon 10.19.2009 1:04 am

~なければ~もない = ~ ない上に~もない (neither / besides)
せりふ(台詞) = dialogue / line
でてくる(出てくる) = appear / emerge
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Mon 10.19.2009 1:40 am

Thanks, NileCat! でてくる was my first thought, but I didn't really understand how it would fit in here, so I figured I was wrong. Thanks for clearing up the other details. I'll have to try and read more on the first line you gave me.

So does this mean "There did not appear to be any dialogue or illustrations"? As a whole sentence:

"She took a peek at the book her sister was reading once or twice, but it did not appear to have any pictures or dialogue."
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby NileCat » Mon 10.19.2009 3:54 am

The text you are reading is translated by Sumiko Yagawa (矢川澄子).
Here's another translation which is relatively plain.
http://www.genpaku.org/alice01/alice01j.html#ch1

It would be helpful for you to study your text.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby lonelytraveler8 » Mon 10.19.2009 4:22 am

I suppose. I'm using the copy my professor purchased, so I'd have to talk to her about it first. I suppose I could stop asking so many questions.
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Re: 不思議の国のアリス

Postby becki_kanou » Mon 10.19.2009 4:30 am

lonelytraveler8 wrote:Thanks, NileCat! でてくる was my first thought, but I didn't really understand how it would fit in here, so I figured I was wrong. Thanks for clearing up the other details. I'll have to try and read more on the first line you gave me.

So does this mean "There did not appear to be any dialogue or illustrations"? As a whole sentence:

"She took a peek at the book her sister was reading once or twice, but it did not appear to have any pictures or dialogue."


Be careful, words that have multiple senses in English may not have all the same senses in Japanese. でてくる is "appear" in the sense of "come out" or "emerge" i.e. the opposite of "disappear". It can't mean "seem to be" which is the other sense of the English "appear", and the one you've used in your translation.

In Japanese we can say 台詞がでてこない "no lines of dialogue came out/appeared" but in English it would be more natural to say: "There weren't any pictures, or even any dialogue." I believe the original sentence is:"...it had no pictures or conversations in it..."
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