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To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Thu 11.05.2009 5:36 pm

Astral Abraxas wrote:If you want I can explain to you why は = subject marker and が = topic marker.


Um, are you sure you didn't get that the wrong way around?
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Astral Abraxas » Thu 11.05.2009 8:49 pm

Yeah I got it the wrong way around ^^; it's because of jumping around erasing things and copying and pasting etc...
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby IceCream » Thu 11.05.2009 8:50 pm

はじめまして!よろしくお願いします :)

hi. i read this forum from time to time, but haven't joined before. I guess it isn't my place to do so really, but i just wanted to step in and defend magamo a bit. I regularly visit the RTK forums, and magamo has been helping everyone there for a lot of months now. He always provides excellent insight and responses into anything he comments on there. So, i'm kind of surprised to see this going on here...

Magamo earlier posted a link to a topic i started on RTK back in July. Further down the page, he gives a really detailed answer to how he thinks about grammar, and methods of learning japanese / any language (at a time when i think he was more awake). The thread continues with us discussing various points on that. It's here: http://forum.koohii.com/viewtopic.php?pid=66425#p66425 . I hope that clears some of this up...

On the "subject" and "topic" thing, i'm sure you know that "subject", as used in English, just isn't a good word for describing anything in Japanese, tbh. It's very easy for learners to mix up the conception of "subject" in the english language, and so not be able to apply it properly.

I also speak with magamo on IRC sometimes, and not long ago we were talking about this forum. Actually, it's funny this topic happened. Because we were talking about the high quality of NileCat's responses!! lol.

I understand that your methods here are probably different from people on RTK (though theres plenty of different opinions there too). But, i do agree with magamo to a large extent. When you first start learning, textbooks are a lever into the language, and understanding the very basics. But, they soon become obsolete, boring, and unencouraging for learners i think. Obviously, everyone has different skills and different ways of learning. But, for most purposes, textbooks, and textbook sentences lack the major thing you need to learn a language - context.

Of course, plain immersion isn't going to help much if you can't understand grammar too. So, refering to a grammar book when you come across something you don't understand is great. But, the assumption that you have to be a high level learner before you can understand natural language, or use natural language, i think, is both misguided, and slightly patronising to learners.

I've been learning japanese 6 months. In places, my grammar sucks. My output still sucks a ton!! And yet, i can understand spoken japanese well enough that i can hear sentences instead of words now. I can understand a huge proportion of the dialogue in easy dramas, and keep up with it, and pick out the individual words i don't know. I can do that because i've learnt from dramas, instead of spending all that time on contrived textbook examples. My reading skills are decent, though slightly slow, for example, i can understand a good deal of the posts in japanese in this thread, though it took me a while. I'm really happy with my progress, and i know that it is down to things like subs2srs.

A huge proportion of any language is made of idioms, common phrases, and colloquialisms. These are also the most interesting and fun parts of a language for lots of people. I'm sure theres tons of people who want to be able to write in a textbook-like way too, and if that's someone's aim, i wouldn't knock it. But, lots of people want to be able to enjoy the things they like in japanese, mostly, so...

Anyway, to NileCat, i think your responses are really great. I'm always impressed when anyone can explain their native language as well as you and magamo can. But, i kindof hope you don't always give textbookish examples too, BECAUSE there are so few native Japanese speakers on forums like this who can explain stuff!! yknow, anyone can go and look at a textbook, but it's not easy to find people who can tell you about and help with real japanese, with all its exceptions and idioms, and stuff.

Sorry for the huge post!!
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ss » Thu 11.05.2009 9:07 pm

Magamo wrote:
to each his own. I think different methods work for different people. You might disagree though.


No, I thought that was exactly what people were telling you? Exactly, to each his own, but then, you had different opinions and you talked pompously, would you please go re-read your previous comments again?
(Please read carefully that I don't mean you can't have different opinions.)

.......... Are you the kind of person who takes it as showing off when learners try to their best Japanese? If that's the case, I don't know what to say.


While I'm definitely not the kind, but you do give me the impression that you talk down on using textbooks and that you are the only one here who can talk naturally. That's why I asked "Do we talk to impress or to convey the idea across?"

If someone said something like this 「私の趣味は本を読むです。」 and 「私は、日本語で手紙書くを難しい思います。」
Native Japanese would definitely understand what that person was trying to say even though particles and some basic grammar were mixed up. They may even be kind enough to correct that person.

However, with a good textbook, you are taught how to phrase these sentences into grammatical proper Japanese and you can try to write or expand your vocab (using the same grammar pattern) to communicate with people already.

私の趣味は本を読むことです。
日本語で手紙を書くことが難しいと思います。

What's wrong with the above sentences? Unnatural?

暇なやつだ。何だよ、取り消せよ!
These are natural Japanese, but I can say this to all people?
A good textbook will provide notes to advise you on using speech like those.
(Note also some good books are written by native Japanese and non-native JP professor)

Obviously, there are tons of ways to convey the same message using different word choice, but that just needs time and experiences, that's what I'm trying to convey. (like I said earlier, I understand what you said perfectly)

------
Magamoさん、
I don't chime in here to squabble nor to dwell on what's already clarified. I read the whole thread, I completely understood what you said and I didn't disagree with other things you mentioned.
The only thing was, you kept mentioning "natural Japanese", which gave me the impression you were not putting yourself in our shoes. It's definitely not encouraging. No one can stop you from twisting everything they say, or perhaps you are not, whatever ...... please relax, sit back and think. I believe you have a lot to offer in TJP.

Let's stop here. Thanks.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby coco » Thu 11.05.2009 10:55 pm

IceCream wrote:I also speak with magamo on IRC sometimes, and not long ago we were talking about this forum. Actually, it's funny this topic happened. Because we were talking about the high quality of NileCat's responses!! lol.

I made a new thread because I want to clear some points up.
viewtopic.php?f=30&t=13927

Magamoさんもお目通し願います。
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Sairana » Fri 11.06.2009 12:36 am

UGH.

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

EDIT: I hope no one quoted part of this post from before this edit and are still typing. Anywho....

I'm leaving it at this quote. It was a big long rant that I probably shouldn't have ultimately hit "submit" for. I think all this time would be better used by helping the OP instead of arguing about helping the OP. If you think it was rude or misguided to suggest that he get a textbook, then help him the best way you know how instead of griping about it. For cryin' out loud.

EDIT2: Holy carp, this is my 666th post. EVILNESS.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ヴェンリメル » Fri 11.06.2009 4:59 am

Hah. And you still had a typo. =P

You make a good point, Sairanaさん, but I must point out, for comedic purposes, that I've shifted my focus of posting to a new thread in a different subforum. ^^

Then:
EDIT: Actually, there's one more thing I'd like to ask, here.
Astral Abraxas wrote:If you want I can explain to you why は = topic marker and が = subject marker. There are no exceptions to this rule. The situations that you believe are exceptions can be nullified if you understand passive verbs, intransitive verbs, what a subject is, and what a topic is. If you understand all of this in addition to maybe a couple of other things that aren't coming to mind at the moment you will realize that it's the perfect definition of は and が。 If you understand all of this the way it's suppose to be understood then you will realize why is used to contrast and is used to talk about something specifically and every other instance that may seem strange to someone learning Japanese.

You bringing up は vs が is the perfect example of what I was talking about. They don't go and explain transitivity and everything else under the goddamn sun when you're trying to make sentences like "私は猫が好きです!”。¹ They give a basic explanation of は and が not a completely accurate one for a good goddamn reason. They'll expand on it when they get to the point of teaching passive verbs, intransitive verbs etc. Like I said, you just don't understand the learning process.
Bold, underline added.
¹I laughed a lot at your phrasing, while understanding this point. lol

My question: Where I've altered text, are those also in need of switching? Because my understanding of the two has been this:

は marks the topic of a sentence.
が marks the subject of whatever action will be mentioned or as the end of one idea to be partially or completely negated by a subsequent one.
を marks the object if the verb relating to the subject is transitive.

By this, the context of my alterations in the quote do become confusing. I just want to be certain whether it's you or me. ^^
Last edited by ヴェンリメル on Fri 11.06.2009 5:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Sairana » Fri 11.06.2009 5:21 am

ヴェンリメル wrote:Hah. And you still had a typo. =P


Totally not a typo: bow to the Holy Carp and you will See. ^_^
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Fri 11.06.2009 1:27 pm

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby tiestotaku » Fri 11.06.2009 5:42 pm

Doggammit. :D

This has been a very interesting thread. If you lived in a project in downtown Montgomery, AL, "natural" English would be very far from what most other American English speakers consider natural. If you were to learn through the immersion method in a place like that, without any persuasion from mass media, you would have a hard time communicating with most of the rest of the people in the United States. Standard English, however, is still entirely comprehensible to even the dirtiest slang-spitting thug. Just thought I'd throw that out there. :mrgreen:
Please forgive me if my attempts at communicating in Japanese come off as rude or vulgar.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ヴェンリメル » Sat 11.07.2009 7:45 pm

This post serves to point out the editing in my previous one. I think I didn't get to it fast enough.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby Hyperworm » Sun 11.08.2009 9:03 am

No, those two don't need switching. :)
は is for the topic and for contrast.
が is for the subject and for specificity and emphasis.
fun translation snippets | need something translated?
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby ヴェンリメル » Sun 11.08.2009 4:28 pm

Okay, that's contrary to description in one of the books I have.

Okay, looked up 「は」 again and found a matching explanation with the above post. The book does say that it's used for contrast, but it seems to me that the compound sentence merely has two topics and that 「私」 is the common over all topic of discussin.

The example given: 「私はりんごは好きですが、みかんは嫌いです。」

"I" is the subject of the following discussion. Apples? Prefer, yes. Subject particle, marking that this is only part of a further sentence, thereby also serving as a way to indicate some contrast. Mandarin oranges? Heavy dislike.

Is it bad to be thinking of these particles' usage in these fashions?

With my current understanding, siting 「は」 as for use in contrast seems only to serve as a confusion.

I'm mulling over this as I type it, honestly. I do recognise that this explanation proves a point that you can easily have more than one "topic" in the sentence. Conversational participants must merely keep in mind what's been said.
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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby furrykef » Sun 11.08.2009 6:39 pm

Well, the contrast is why you would use two topics in the same sentence. If you just said 私はりんごは好きです and left it at that, it would likely sound unnatural. The reason you put は after りんご is because you're about to contrast りんご with みかん. Otherwise, you would use が.

In fact, some people have approached は from the other direction and claimed that its only purpose is to show contrast, and marking a topic of discussion is just a particular type of contrast. (It does make a certain amount of sense: when you say "as for X", you are contrasting X with anything else that one might want to talk about. "Never mind anything else we could talk about, we're going to talk about X now.")

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Re: To (probably) discuss a lot of basics

Postby NocturnalOcean » Sun 11.08.2009 7:00 pm

furrykef wrote:
In fact, some people have approached は from the other direction and claimed that its only purpose is to show contrast, and marking a topic of discussion is just a particular type of contrast. (It does make a certain amount of sense: when you say "as for X", you are contrasting X with anything else that one might want to talk about. "Never mind anything else we could talk about, we're going to talk about X now.")

- Kef



Actually, I think it is more like what my professor said when I started on my masters in east-asian linguistics.
Which was that there is only one は, and that is to make a topic. What people consider as contrastive usage, is just topical usage, but from the nature of having for example 2 topics in the sentence, they become "contrastive" by themselves.
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