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Set phrase?

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Set phrase?

Postby chibola » Tue 02.22.2011 6:05 pm

僕は何度も砂場の中に腕を差し込んでそれを確かめた。それは何回目のことだったかすでに忘れてしまった。

What I don't understand:

- What is that 目 doing there? Is it the one for eye? I can't seem to make sense of its purpose in the sentence... I don't see any "eye" in the translation so I'm confused.

- "sore ha....no koto datta." My book, I quote, says, "...is a phrase used, mostly in written Japanese, to set the scene for some past event. Since in this case we don't yet know what the event was, there is an element of suspense: 'I no longer recall how many times I had stuck my arm in the sand by the time it happened.'" I'm still not clear on what it is, though. Could someone please provide me with some more examples of this phrasing?

- What is that "ka" doing after "datta"?

Thank you in advance >_<!
Last edited by chibola on Tue 02.22.2011 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Set phrase?

Postby TJack » Tue 02.22.2011 9:33 pm

Quelle coincidence! This is from むかし夕日の公園で correct? We just started reading this this week in my Japanese class!

My teacher gave us some grammar points for this book, and he has it listed as:
#+回目 (#)th time (counter). I know, I remember seeing this before and wondered why 目 was used in this way. So the eye definition of 目 isn't used in this phrase.


I'm not sure about the other two, but I'm sure someone here can help!
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Re: Set phrase?

Postby NileCat » Wed 02.23.2011 3:00 am

See the difference between the following two sentences.

A) On the fourth night on the island, we heard a strange sound from the graveyard at last.
B) At last, we heard a strange sound from the graveyard. It was on the fourth night on the island.

I suppose you can see that the use of ‘it’ has something to do with “an element of suspense”. The sentence could translate like this:「それは4日目の夜のことだった」
Now, on B, let’s say that you no longer remember when it happened.
B-2) At last, we heard a strange sound from the graveyard. (But) I no longer recall how many nights we had spent on the island.
(しかし)それは島での何日目の夜のことだったかもう覚えていない。

Regarding the usage of “か” here, see Tae Kim’s guide.
"「か」 used in subordinate clauses"
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/question
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Re: Set phrase?

Postby chibola » Wed 02.23.2011 8:46 am

OH, I understand it now! Thank you two very much for your helpful responses! This makes much more sense to me...

Also, thanks for the link.

And, yes, TJack, it IS a weird coincidence :o! Ha ha.
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