一人 and 独り

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agathe
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一人 and 独り

Post by agathe » Tue 02.16.2010 8:49 am

Hi!

I often get confused when words can be written with different kanji. Are there any differences between 独り and 一人?

I assume when counting people (一人, 二人, 三人) 一人 is used and 独り can not be used. But I think that if I want to say that I am studying alone both can be used. 私は一人で勉強します or 私は独りで勉強します. But are they exactly the same?

Thanks for your help.

spin13
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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by spin13 » Tue 02.16.2010 10:25 am

The generic 一人 focuses on the number. You use this when you want to say, "one friend visited me" or "one by one they walked away."

独り focuses on independence, isolation, or solitude. It has more emotional nuances. You use this when you want to say "I'm better off alone" or "he talks to himself (独り言を言う)."

agathe
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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by agathe » Tue 02.16.2010 12:53 pm

Thanks for a good explanation!

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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by AJBryant » Wed 02.17.2010 6:59 pm

Interesting side note on 独り -- if you've ever read Tolkien's The Hobbit, in the Japanese translation, the Dwarves' stronghold, "the Lonely Mountain," is called 独り山.

agathe
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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by agathe » Thu 02.18.2010 4:19 pm

Thanks, that is interesting. I don't think am quite up to reading Tolkien in Japanese yet, but I'll put the Hobbit on my shopping list for Christmas. I recently thought about rereading it so reading it in Japanese would be perfect.

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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by AJBryant » Fri 02.19.2010 4:35 am

I'm a big fan of reading English lit in Japanese as part of one's learning process. If you already know the story, it helps you to "guess" at things you don't know, and allows you to read faster (glossing over the uncertain parts) than you would if you were reading new material.

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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by furrykef » Fri 02.19.2010 6:02 am

What's the quality usually like, though? I try it with Spanish and sometimes the translations are so horrible that even I can spot the mistakes.

Though I suspect this problem might be so common because English and Spanish are similar enough that people think they're better at translating between them than they really are, or employers might not be choosy enough in selecting a translator for the same reason.
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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by Harisenbon » Fri 02.19.2010 6:14 am

I find translated books (and games) to be almost unbearable.
While grammatically correct, they usually try to keep the "feeling" of the English sentences, which means picking obscure words or phrasing that aren't really used in standard Japanese speech.

Reading a book translated into Japanese is a much different experience than reading a native Japanese book.

Harry Potter I think was one of the few exceptions to this rule.

-- Currently playing through Assassin's Creed 1 in Japanese and understanding MAYBE 40% of the story... I swear it's like they chose 漢語 over 和語 at any and every opportunity.
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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by AJBryant » Sun 02.21.2010 1:23 am

You have to find the right translations. Some translators are really choku-yaku kinda folks, and tend to stick too closely to the genbun, even when it's inappropriate. Translating is an art, and for many (even in the literary world) it's a job.

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Re: 一人 and 独り

Post by agathe » Sun 02.21.2010 9:26 am

In an ideal world I would read any book in it's original language. But since my Japanese reading skills lack quite a lot reading books I already know well in English is useful. Knowing the story makes it possible for me to extrapolate across the huge amount of passages that I don't quite understand. Eventually I hope to be able to do these extrapolations without knowing the story in advance. I don't mind it when they keep some of the English words. In Harry Potter they kept all the magic words and names and I am quite happy that I don't have to relearn those. But too much of anything is rarely good so I guess I have been lucky with the choice of reading material so far.

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