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A compilation of random questions

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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby squarezebra » Fri 08.19.2011 8:25 am

Blindreader, may I direct your attention to this site, http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar

You may do well to go through that grammar guide as I'm sure it will answer many of your questions. Tae Kim's grammar guide generally comes quite highly recommended :)
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby NileCat » Fri 08.19.2011 2:16 pm

BlindReader wrote:I have some new questions.

Warm up:
すまない means "sorry" すみません also means sorry but isn't it literally "not sorry"?


Sumimasen vs. Sumanai

The simplest explanation would be that Sumimasen sounds more proper/polite/decent.
You can break down the word Sumimasen into Sumu+Masen as well as Sumanai which is made of Sumu+Nai. Both of the two expressions negate the verb ‘Sumu’.
The origin of these words which have a similar meaning with ‘sorry’ in English is that ‘I can’t satisfy myself” (私の気がすみません/私の気がすまない). So it should to be a negative form in any expressions. (すまない/すみません/すみませんでした/すまなかった/すいません)All of them can be translated as apologies like “I’m sorry”. "I can't satisfy myself without expressing my apology to you" is the literal meaning.
But we use ‘Sumimasen’ very frequently, perhaps more than you use ‘sorry’ in your daily life. That would be a cultural thing. As you might know, this word is similar to ‘excuse me’ as well. Moreover it is sometimes used as if it means ‘hello’ or something. We say Sumimasen even when someone gives you a gift. In that case, it has to be translated as 'thank you'.

On the other hand, Sumanai is usually used only when we want to express a casual apology (or gratitude). I don’t know why, though, I personally think there is a very tight relationship between the concept of apology and gratitude in our culture.
Hope it helps. :)
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby BlindReader » Sat 08.20.2011 2:03 pm

Thank you squarezebra but these questions arised from studying Tae Kims guide.
He never explains what parts of the sentence the particles work on.
I know what they mean but I am lacking something.
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby furrykef » Sat 08.20.2011 11:20 pm

BlindReader wrote:I have some new questions.

Warm up:
すまない means "sorry" すみません also means sorry but isn't it literally "not sorry"?


No... すまない is the plain form and すみません is the polite form. They are both negative forms of 済む (すむ). It's negative because you're saying what you've done is unjustifiable, unpardonable, etc. -- the negation is the "un-" part. I've never seen 済む used to mean "justifiable" or "pardonable", though... I've only seen it with this sense in the negative.


The following one makes Japanese hard for me.
Are there any rules about what parts of a sentence certain particles effects?
Like の effects both around it
から effects the one before it (?)
some effect the ones after it .. and so on
Can such a guide be made?

This isn't a correct usage of the word "effect". "Affect" would be a bit awkward here too. Maybe "has an effect on"?

I can't think of a particle that has an effect on only what follows it. The particle is always most strongly associated with what precedes. Likewise, prepositions in English are most strongly associated with what follows. For example, if I say "castle of doom", the "of" is much more associated with "doom" than "castle" (in English we say that "doom" is the object of the preposition). So it is with 命運の城 -- the の really goes with 命運. It's the entire phrase 命運の that modifies 城, not just the の.
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby blutorange » Sun 08.21.2011 4:50 pm

I've never seen 済む used to mean "justifiable" or "pardonable", though... I've only seen it with this sense in the negative.

How about 罰金だけで済んだ・少しの損で済んだ ? I think the meaning is pretty close to "pardonable" and also yields some insight why すまない means what it does. The literal meaning of the negation すまない follows quite naturally: このままでは済まない(=決着しない)の意からいう [明鏡国語辞典]

This isn't a correct usage of the word "effect". "Affect" would be a bit awkward here too. Maybe "has an effect on"?

To modify. Words are modified by particles, or affixes (prefix, infix, suffix) in general.

Are there any rules about what parts of a sentence certain particles effects?

As furrykef pointed out correctly, as a general rule, particles modify the word that comes before. As for の, what seems like an exception, consider the following:
泥棒(ドロボウ)は私の鞄(カバン)を盗(ト)った. The thief took my bag.
Now the following rephrasing is possible.
泥棒は鞄を盗った、私の. informal perhaps, but informal usage often tells us best how the language works
Trying to be general, no modifies the word that comes before as being modifying itself. What it modifies may be left unspecified (rare, usually there's at least some context before that tells you what it modifies, as in the example above). Or it is specified and since language is usually meant as a tool for communication, it should be easy for the listener to quickly figure out what is modified by what, it seems quite natural to just put it directly after 〜no. But again, as shown above, it is possible not to "say anything" after ~no.

On the other hand, this の鞄が盗んだ does not mean "The bag of someone was stolen", and in fact, this is not even correct Japanese. A particle need something before it to modify. This is clearly evidence (not "proof") that the exception is only apparent, due to what speakers wish to express.

Another instance of a class of exceptions that just seem to be one: 最(モット)も 安い - even cheaper. Although it seems mottomo modifies the adjective cheap, which comes after the modfier, mottomo is not a particle. The really particle is mo, which comes after motto. motto is actually an adverb which means (より一層・さらに), ie "(even) more", and mo mostly adds emphasis in accordance to its basic meaning, which is, well, "(in) addition, also, more". And adverbs and adjectives usually go before what they modify.

Could you tell us which particle you think exclusively modifies the word after the particle?
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby J.J. Perec » Mon 08.22.2011 2:44 pm

Hey guys, I'm working through some children's stories, and they always start "昔々/むかしむかし". Does this phrase have the same nuance as "once upon a time" in English, and is generally just used for children's stories, or can it be used generally as "a long time ago" in adult conversation as well?
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby Ongakuka » Mon 08.22.2011 3:46 pm

J.J. Perec wrote:Hey guys, I'm working through some children's stories, and they always start "昔々/むかしむかし". Does this phrase have the same nuance as "once upon a time" in English, and is generally just used for children's stories, or can it be used generally as "a long time ago" in adult conversation as well?


Whereas 昔 on its own is just 'a long time ago,' I think you are right in saying that 昔々 has the 'once upon a time feel' as in children's stories. However, this phrase in both English and Japanese may still enter adult conversation!
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Re: A compilation of random questions

Postby furrykef » Tue 09.06.2011 11:11 pm

blutorange wrote:
This isn't a correct usage of the word "effect". "Affect" would be a bit awkward here too. Maybe "has an effect on"?

To modify. Words are modified by particles, or affixes (prefix, infix, suffix) in general.

But saying that の modifies both what precedes and follows would be incorrect. The の itself only modifies what precedes. You could say it links what precedes with what follows, though, or something like that.
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