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Concept of plural

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Concept of plural

Postby NileCat » Sun 09.12.2010 11:43 am

Hi everybody.
Could someone tell me the meaning of the following English passage?
This is a text from a Japanese learning website.
http://hararie-japan-tokyo-tokyo.com/japanese_alphabet/

Concept of plural form in Japanese
...
Third, the distinction between "Word" and "Object" doesn't exist in Japanese.

In other words, in English, it is said to be "The word isn't the object" , but Japanese doesn't have such concept.

Therefore, even if it is "Object", it is "りんご(ringo)[Apple]" in Japanese.
And even if it is "Word", it is "りんご(ringo)[Apple]" in Japanese.
"Is this a object or a word?"
If it is not such a question, they are all "ringo" in Japanese.

What I don't understand is "the word isn't the object" part. What is the writer getting at? Does my question seem silly? Well, I always have a difficulty to grasp the concept of singular/plural in English. It occurred to me that this passage which I don't understand could be the reason that I don't understand the concept.
Well...I mean...I had thought I am able to distinguish a material object from a word on paper in Japanese. Or maybe I was wrong?
I would appreciate if someone could kindly explain about the meaning to me.


EDIT:
Hmm...my question seems odd. :blush:
Therefore, even if it is "Object", it is "りんご(ringo)[Apple]" in Japanese.
And even if it is "Word", it is "りんご(ringo)[Apple]" in Japanese.

Even if it is "an object", it is an apple in English and even if it is "a word", it is an apple in English, isn't it???
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Re: Concept of plural

Postby TJack » Sun 09.12.2010 12:29 pm

To be honest NileCat, I really don't understand what the author is trying to say here. The word apple and the object of an apple are both apple. If there is more than one apple like picture two, then it would be apples. I can't for the life of me figure out what "the word isn't the object" means. If I see the word 'apple', I think of an apple. Or if I see an apple, I think 'apple'. I don't think I make a distinction with the word and the object itself.

When the American corrects the Japanese girl by saying "No, these have a different meaning", he is right only in the sense that the second picture is not apple, but apples. However, the first and third picture equals each other, and I can't think of a reason why the author would say "the object 'apple' does not equal the word 'apple"

Hopefully someone has a better idea what the author is trying to say.

NileCat wrote:Even if it is "an object", it is an apple in English and even if it is "a word", it is an apple in English, isn't it???


You're right, and that's why I'm confused.
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Re: Concept of plural

Postby Hyperworm » Sun 09.12.2010 12:31 pm

It says that in Japanese, the answer to
              ↑ これなに? (<- that should point to the word 'answer')
is
「答えです」「answerです」など

which is the same as the answer to
2+2=?
4 ← これなに?

again:「答えです」「answerです」

In English the answers to those two questions would be different: the first,
"it is the word 'answer'", or " it's 'answer' "
and the second,
"it is an answer", or "it is the answer" (using an article).

Each of those English answers tells whether the thing described is an "object" (an actual answer to a question) or just the "word" ('answer').
You can't make a sentence in English that leaves it unclear whether we're talking about an object or a word.
Japanese does not require you to make that distinction (though you still can - e.g. 「answer」という言葉です).

So the object-word distinction is an element of English language grammar that is not important when speaking Japanese, just like singular/plural, and a/the.

I wonder if that actually helps you with anything... ._.

Edit: here's another way of stating it.
In Japanese:
りんごはことばですか? - Depends on context of りんご
In English:
Is an apple a word? - Always No
Is apple a word? - Always Yes
fun translation snippets | need something translated?
BTC@1KMZXgoWiDshQis5Z7feCx8jaiP4QAB2ks
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Re: Concept of plural

Postby NileCat » Sun 09.12.2010 1:03 pm

Thank you for your quick reply, TJack and Hyperworm.
Your answers helped me a lot!
:)

EDIT:
I personally found the linked website good for Japanese learners.(beginner-intermediate)
The example sentences are practical and natural. And the pictures are cute. :)
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