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~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

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~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby ThePacster » Wed 10.20.2010 9:59 am

Hey there guys. I tried to do a little digging on this, but I'm still feeling fuzzy so I thought I'd post and see if it clears anything up for me.

I was going over some dialogues for class, and their usage as well as what my teacher explained to me in class somewhat conflicts from what I've previously read in other books and places. Here's an excerpt from the dialogue.

A: 大久保さん、もう一杯いかがですか
B: ううん、今日はこのぐらいでやめとくよ
A: えー!めずらしい。どうなさったんですか。
B: うん、最近お酒を飲むと、すぐ酔っちゃうんだよ
A: へー、そうなんですか。
B: うん、もうとしなのかなあ。
A: そんなことないですよ。あ、そういうときは、お酒を飲む前に牛乳を飲むといいみたいですよ

Most of my books simply describe みたいだ/ようだ as something looking like something, but one describes it as a conjecture based on first handle reliable information (usually visual), another describes it as judgment based on what the speaker has read, heard, or been told. Am I correct in assuming the main difference between そうです as hearsay and ようです(みたいです) as a conjecture is that そうです assumes no use of personal judgment in relaying information from a source while ようです/みたいです relays information based on an outside source as well as personal judgment or experience?
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Re: ~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby NileCat » Wed 10.20.2010 4:45 pm

お酒を飲む前に牛乳を飲むといいみたいですよ。
→ という話を聞いたことがある気がします
(情報源は不確実であることを強調)

お酒を飲む前に牛乳を飲むといいそうですよ。
→ という話を聞きました
(情報源はほぼ確実であることを強調)

Meaning-wise, there is not a very big difference in our actual usage.
Since みたい is usually used like "like", many people would assume みたい is an informal/causal use of ~そう in many cases. And I personally would have an impression that 飲むといいそうですよ is more reliable information than 飲むといいみたいですよ in this context.

However, for instance,
TJPはいいサイトみたいですよ vs. TJPはいいサイトだそうですよ
In our casual conversation, the former sometimes can give more credibility than the latter because the latter clearly states that the information is from outside and it is not the speaker's own opinion. On the other hand, いいサイトみたいですよ can convey the nuance that the speaker himself has the impression although he is not sure yet. Therefore, (in the conversation level), in terms of credibility, I can't tell which can deliver "reliable" impression to the listener.

So, the difference in the actual usage depends on the context, as usual. Sorry.
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Re: ~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby ThePacster » Wed 10.20.2010 6:33 pm

Now I feel more confused. :shock:

I was under the assumption that because ようです(みたいです) involves the speaker's reasoning first hand information and prior knowledge, its degree of certainty is higher than other forms of conjecture (at least according to dictionary of basic grammar). Also, given the context of my example where the speaker is giving the listener his opinion / advice relating to the situation, I don't see a difference in context.

For the sake of simplicity, in my particular scenario, would it be safe to assume they are both a form of hearsay from some other information previously heard by the speaker?
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Re: ~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby NileCat » Thu 10.21.2010 12:10 pm

For the sake of simplicity, in my particular scenario, would it be safe to assume they are both a form of hearsay from some other information previously heard by the speaker?
(Underline added)

That’s correct.
I’m sorry for confusing you. But it IS a confusing issue.

I was under the assumption that because ようです(みたいです) involves the speaker's reasoning first hand information and prior knowledge, its degree of certainty is higher than other forms of conjecture (at least according to dictionary of basic grammar).

That’s not necessarily correct, I’m afraid.
To begin with, what did make you assume ようです and みたいです are the same? Of course they have similar grammatical function. But what you were trying to understand here is the specific nuance of the words in terms of certainty, isn’t it? In that case, I recommend you not to mix them up.

It seems to me that you are trying to find out which word specifically implies “firsthand” experience.
ようです
みたいです
そうです
Unfortunately, the function of all those words is “how to make the resource of the information ambiguous”, in many occasions.
a) インドで地震があったようです
b) インドで地震があったみたいです
c) インドで地震があったそうです
Here, none of the statements is based on the speaker’s firsthand experience. Can you see that?

<Degree of Certainty>
It depends on the credibility of the speaker.

If the speaker is expected to be familiar with the issue, (b)みたいです can sound the information is more certain than そうです or ようです. And only (c)そうです can specify that the information is brought by someone else. (Which means the speaker hasn’t evaluated the certainty, at the same time.) That’s why そうです sometimes sounds like the speaker doesn’t want to be responsible for the credibility of the information.

If the speaker is a news anchor speaking to the public, (b)みたいです and (c)そうですwouldn’t be acceptable. Only (a) can have a kind of certainty. Only ようです can convey the proper nuance that the information is certain. (But not confirmed officially about the details yet.)
Reason 1; みたいです sounds too casual
Reason 2; みたいです and そうです both sound as if the speaker abandoned the responsibility of the certainty.

If the speaker is an average high school student, (c)そうです would sound the most certain information. He is sure that someone actually said about the earthquake, at least.

If the speaker is a high school student whose parents are living in India, (b)みたいです can be the most certain statement. Only in this case, it can convey the “firsthand experience” nuance. He heard terrible sound over the telephone while he was speaking with his mother on the telephone, or something like that.

Sorry. I realize my explanation is not clear enough. All I can say is that “it depends on the context”. I wish you could get something reasonable in my poor explanation.
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Re: ~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby ThePacster » Thu 10.21.2010 9:31 pm

You've helped me a great deal Nilecat. It seems whenever I come to these boards once in a blue moon I end up giving someone a hard time seeking explanations but it's greatly appreciated. However, I need just a little more clarification.

To begin with, what did make you assume ようです and みたいです are the same? Of course they have similar grammatical function. But what you were trying to understand here is the specific nuance of the words in terms of certainty, isn’t it? In that case, I recommend you not to mix them up.


I don't have my textbooks with me right now, but I was lead to believe from my text that in many (if not all) circumstances ようです and みたいです are essentially the same word, only that ようです is more formal than みたいです. If you know of any online resources (preferably written in Japanese) that can help me distinguish between these two it would be very much appreciated. I honestly can't think of an example sentence where switching ようです with みたいです would have a different meaning, but I'm afraid this is because I don't understand any difference in their nuance.

a) インドで地震があったようです
b) インドで地震があったみたいです
c) インドで地震があったそうです
Here, none of the statements is based on the speaker’s firsthand experience. Can you see that?


Yes, I can see none of these sentences are based on the speaker's experience. However, when I think of "experience" it varies with the context.

In the case of (a) I would assume it isn't necessarily first hand experience but rather first hand knowledge of something related to India (perhaps having visited the area after the earthquake, or recalling from a newspaper or a friend mentioning an earthquake) that would lead them to make the conjecture that they believe there was an earthquake. They did not experience an earthquake firsthand, but based on what they saw, read, or heard, they believe there was an earthquake.

In the case of (b) based on what I've studied, I would assume the same nuance as (a).

In the case of (c) the speaker is simply citing another source that an earthquake occurred in India without any conjecture, essentially leaving responsibility of whether its true or not to the source the speaker is referencing.

I know my (a) and (b) scenario understandings are not quite correct, but hopefully I'm on the right track.

If the speaker is expected to be familiar with the issue, (b)みたいです can sound the information is more certain than そうです or ようです. And only (c)そうです can specify that the information is brought by someone else. (Which means the speaker hasn’t evaluated the certainty, at the same time.) That’s why そうです sometimes sounds like the speaker doesn’t want to be responsible for the credibility of the information.


I feel that I understand そうです as it is simply hearsay from an outside source without conjecture, but みたいです and ようです still feel to be the same to me. :(

If the speaker is a news anchor speaking to the public, (b)みたいです and (c)そうですwouldn’t be acceptable. Only (a) can have a kind of certainty. Only ようです can convey the proper nuance that the information is certain. (But not confirmed officially about the details yet.)
Reason 1; みたいです sounds too casual
Reason 2; みたいです and そうです both sound as if the speaker abandoned the responsibility of the certainty.


First, am I correct in saying the nuance of ようです for the news anchor would be him making a conjecture based on research done by his news team and his personal knowledge of the situation, although the information is not yet fully confirmed?
Second, although I still do not quite understand the distinction between ようです and みたいです, I can understand that みたいです would be more casual and therefore inappropriate, although I don't understand how in your previous quote, みたいです can be used if the speaker is expected to be familiar with the issue, yet みたいです for the news anchor would show abandoning responsibility of certainty, that sounds contradictory to me. :?

If the speaker is a high school student whose parents are living in India, (b)みたいです can be the most certain statement. Only in this case, it can convey the “firsthand experience” nuance. He heard terrible sound over the telephone while he was speaking with his mother on the telephone, or something like that.


This nuance I more or less understand, but again based on my studies, I would assume that ようです would have the same meaning, but be considered more formal to use whether or not it is more certain I do not know.

Again, sorry for giving you so much trouble, but I'm trying to make it click in my brain and it's not quite there yet. :sweatdrop:

----------------

Edit: ちょっと待って~ さっき先生と相談して、確認してみたいです。 文法は悪いですが、これはどうですか。 これは僕のメモです。

ー まず、レベルが違います
「みたいです」より「ようです」のほうが丁寧です。

ー ニュアンスも違います
・「ようです」は「2nd hand information」から来て、そして「objective」です。
・ほかの情報と自分の考えと一緒に発表する (伝聞表現)。
・自分で調べて、結果を見てから、発表すること。

・「みたいです」は「witnessing」(友達からとか)や「experience」(自分でやる)のこと、そして「見ること」がいいです。
・この場合はシーンの一部分だけを見て、「本当かどうか分からないんですが、そうと思います」という感じです。

Looking at this things make more sense I think. For example, taking this into consideration, it makes sense to me that your scenario of a news caster using みたいです is inappropriate not only because it is impolite, but as you said he "abandoned responsibility of the certainty" because みたいです would imply he observed something without actually seeing the result. :) I'm hoping this is more accurate.
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Re: ~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby NileCat » Sat 10.23.2010 7:55 am

Yes. I think your gist is pretty much accurate.


If I said this as a Japanese who doesn’t find it difficult:

1)日本語は難しいようです。
・・・いろいろな人の意見を総合すると、日本語は難しいという事実は正しいであろうと私も思っています。

2)日本語は難しいみたいです。
・・・多くの外国人が、日本語は難しいと感じるらしいということを、私は知っています。しかし、私自身の意見は、はっきりしません。


3)日本語は難しいそうです。
・・・単なる「伝聞」情報です。私自身の意見は入っていません。


If I were a Mac fan :

1)新しいMacbook Air は、かなり薄いようです。
・・・薄いという事実は、ほぼ確実だと私は思っています。

2)新しいMacbook Air は、かなり薄いみたいです。
・・・(1)よりも砕けた言い方です。同時に、私は、この情報の正確性にあまり責任を持っていません。

3)新しいMacbook Air は、かなり薄いそうです。
・・・単なる伝聞情報です。私は、まだその情報の真偽を確認していません。従って、私自身の意見は入っていません。
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Re: ~ようだ similar to hearsay? (conjecture)

Postby ThePacster » Sat 10.23.2010 11:33 am

After all this time, I think I finally have a good grasp of it. I as well as my teacher was pretty shocked to find that dictionary of grammar I've used all this time wasn't completely truthful about this bit of information as well. Thanks so much Nilecat. :D
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