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The "What's this word/phrase?" thread

(2017-06-28, 11:08 pm)Eminem2 Wrote: It had knights in different colours, some of which were illusions that sent you back to the very beginning of the castle (some 20+ maze screens previous, *sigh*!). So 一回 means something like "once more on the merry-go-round"? That's certainly appropriate.
No, the whole phrase means "each colour one time", so it'll be a hint about which knights to fight and which are illusions (first guess being that if you've already fought one blue knight every other blue knight will be an illusion, and so on, so the right path is through one knight of each colour).
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Help!  What would be a reasonable English translation of the following sentence:

バス が なかなか 来ません。

My grammar book doesn't provide an English translation (?!) but only says that "nakanaka...nai suggests that something will be or is difficult to realize or achieve."

OK that's very nice but WHAT DOE THE SENTENCE MEAN IN ENGLISH?

Let me take a stab at it:

"I fear that the coming of the bus will be difficult to realize or achieve." [sarcasm]

"So like, I bet the bus is totally not coming."

Google translate is not helpful:  "The bus does not come easily."

Any ideas?  Is it possible the sentence itself is ill-chosen as not likely to be encountered in real life?
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(2017-07-11, 10:06 pm)phil321 Wrote: Help!  What would be a reasonable English translation of the following sentence:

バス が なかなか 来ません。

My grammar book doesn't provide an English translation (?!) but only says that "nakanaka...nai suggests that something will be or is difficult to realize or achieve."

OK that's very nice but WHAT DOE THE SENTENCE MEAN IN ENGLISH?

Let me take a stab at it:

"I fear that the coming of the bus will be difficult to realize or achieve." [sarcasm]

"So like, I bet the bus is totally not coming."

Google translate is not helpful:  "The bus does not come easily."

Any ideas?  Is it possible the sentence itself is ill-chosen as not likely to be encountered in real life?

What about "the bus is hardly coming"? I'd suggest that, but here's my twofold problem: 1) my Japanese level is still far from the point where I could claim I really know what the sentece means, and 2) as English is an L2 to me, I'm unsure about the correctness of that sentence  d¬_¬;b . So any comments or corrections are much appreciated.
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バスがなかなか来ません。
The bus is taking ages to arrive.
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(2017-07-11, 11:29 pm)Katsuo Wrote: バスがなかなか来ません。
The bus is taking ages to arrive.

Thanks.

This book (see it here: https://www.amazon.com/Kanzen-Grammar-Ja...=N4+master) is ok except that it is sometimes frustrating in that it does not give any English translations of the sample sentences.  In many cases I had to refer to other textbooks and then pencil in the English translation.

They must be following some weird educational philosophy about "forcing the student to think in Japanese".  Unfortunately, when you are a student learning Japanese, accurate translations into the student's native language are essential to coming to an understanding of the Japanese.
Edited: 2017-07-12, 7:54 am
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(2017-07-12, 7:54 am)phil321 Wrote: They must be following some weird educational philosophy about "forcing the student to think in Japanese".  Unfortunately, when you are a student learning Japanese, accurate translations into the student's native language are essential to coming to an understanding of the Japanese.
I learnt all my Japanese right from the beginning in Japanese-language-only classes; having translations into English isn't really necessary, though of course depending on your learning preferences it may be more or less helpful. Especially as you move away from beginners' resources, only-Japanese becomes more common. (Among other things there's a commercial imperative -- a book with only Japanese works for students of all native languages, but one with English translations limits its market quite significantly.) And at some point (preferably sooner rather than later) you want to be trying to simply understand the Japanese without trying to translate it.
Edited: 2017-07-12, 8:13 am
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(2017-07-12, 8:12 am)pm215 Wrote:
(2017-07-12, 7:54 am)phil321 Wrote: They must be following some weird educational philosophy about "forcing the student to think in Japanese".  Unfortunately, when you are a student learning Japanese, accurate translations into the student's native language are essential to coming to an understanding of the Japanese.
I learnt all my Japanese right from the beginning in Japanese-language-only classes; having translations into English isn't really necessary, though of course depending on your learning preferences it may be more or less helpful. Especially as you move away from beginners' resources, only-Japanese becomes more common. (Among other things there's a commercial imperative -- a book with only Japanese works for students of all native languages, but one with English translations limits its market quite significantly.) And at some point (preferably sooner rather than later) you want to be trying to simply understand the Japanese without trying to translate it.
You say that "having translations into English isn't really necessary".  This is another "we'll have to agree to totally disagree."  The N4 book I made reference to doesn't have English translations of the sentences, however it DOES have explanations of the grammar in English.  So it's intended for English speakers.  Therefore it should have English translations of all the sentences.  If they wanted the user of the book to make do without English translations they should provide more context so you can better "guess" what it means.  I don't like guessing.

At the end of the day, there ARE correct English equivalents of all the sentences.  Just tell the reader what they are.  (If you have an "agenda" and refuse to do so, you must warn potential purchasers before they click on the "buy" button).
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(2017-07-12, 9:10 am)phil321 Wrote: At the end of the day, there ARE correct English equivalents of all the sentences.
The thing is, it's not all that uncommon that there isn't. Or there are multiple possibilities. Or the natural English thing to say in a situation (what you'd put in for a natural translation) isn't very close to what the Japanese is saying. Consider やっぱり or ちなみに (which have coherent meanings which don't map nicely to a single English equivalent) or as a very simple example いただきます at the start of a meal, which has no equivalent in English at all.

I agree that if they're going to provide explanations in English then translating the examples wouldn't be totally out of place. But it's not all that surprising that they don't either -- for instance the 'Donna toki dou tsukau' book has brief explanations of the grammar point meanings in English (and Chinese and Korean) but no translations of the examples. This isn't the Kanzen Master publishers being weird -- I think they're broadly in line with everybody else in the field. (Similarly, later levels of the KM series drop the English entirely, in line with other book publishers.)
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(2017-07-11, 11:29 pm)Katsuo Wrote: バスがなかなか来ません。
The bus is taking ages to arrive.

It's interesting because today I was looking at an old copy of Takahashi's Romanized Japanese dictionary in a used bookstore and I looked up nakanaka and it gave this example:

Basu ga nakanaka konakatta.  The bus was a long time coming.

Which implies that the above use of nakanaka is idiomatic and would not be apparent to the foreign learner of Japanese. 

Which makes the fact that my textbook doesn't provide an English translation all the more reprehensible and vile.
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Wow. If you think the Japanese sentence is idiomatic, look at that English :D.

I'm not kidding, as a foreigner it's really hard to wrap you head around "the bus was a long time coming". The first thing that came to mind is that the bus has been here with us since a long time ago, to the point where it is already part of the family :DD

Also, I know it's a little off-topic given that we are here to talk about Japanese, but I'll insist: I'd really appreciate any comments on my tentative "the bus is hardly coming"... Is that b0rk'n Inglish?
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(2017-07-13, 9:34 pm)faneca Wrote: Wow. If you think the Japanese sentence is idiomatic, look at that English Big Grin.

I'm not kidding, as a foreigner it's really hard to wrap you head around "the bus was a long time coming". The first thing that came to mind is that the bus has been here with us since a long time ago, to the point where it is already part of the family Big GrinD

Also, I know it's a little off-topic given that we are here to talk about Japanese, but I'll insist: I'd really appreciate any comments on my tentative "the bus is hardly coming"... Is that b0rk'n Inglish?

I'm a native English speaker, so the meaning of "the bus was a long time coming" is clear to me.  So all is good.  I have my answer.

Note that "the bus was a long time coming" = "the bus took a long time to come."  "The bus is hardly coming" is not correct.

Here's a reference: 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictiona...e%20coming
Edited: 2017-07-13, 10:14 pm
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I have another sentence from Full Metal Alchemist which I'm confused about (this is Volume 3 page 23). Pinako is talking about Edward and Alphonse:

なんせ こんな田舎だ
都会の情報は あまり入って来ないし
あの子らもあの子らで手紙のひとつもよこさないから あたしゃ心配でね

I pretty much understand what it means:

Anyway, it's that kind of town. We don't get much news from the capital, and those kids haven't sent even a single letter, so I've been worried.

But what exactly is going on with the  あの子らもあの子らで part? Is that a set expression of some kind?

thanks very much for any help...
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あの子らもあの子らで = "Those kids are those kids, so..." (I.e. Alphonse and Edward aren't the types to write letters.)
It's the same as we might say "Edward being Edward..."

Edit2: Realised a point of confusion might be the use of も in the middle of this phrase. I think if this was the first cause she'd brought up for the lack of news it would have been あの子らあの子らで, but because she's putting あの子ら forward as another problem she use も instead.

Also can't tell from your translation whether you got this but 田舎 implies rural isolation and that's why they don't get news from the city. It's not exactly "that kind of town" so much as "out here in the sticks"

Edit: after double checking the dictionary I don't think 田舎 can mean "town" at all. The definition "hometown" seems to mean "place where I am from". Whether that is a town or city or village does not seem to be the point.

3) 生まれ故郷。郷里。父母や祖父母のふるさとについてもいう。「うちの田舎は四国の港町です」

https://kotobank.jp/word/%E7%94%B0%E8%88...E.E6.B3.89
Edited: 2017-07-15, 7:21 am
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That kind of 'obviously a pattern but almost impossible to look up in a dictionary or grammar reference' is particularly irritating. [A few other examples of the phenomenon here under the label 'unlookupables'.
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There is an entry close to that one in the 日本語文型辞典.
XもXならYもYだ
Stating that it is used when you have something to complain [about X and Y].
Given exemples are:
1.親も親なら子も子だね。
2.兄さんも兄さんだが、姉さんだってひどいよ。
3.賄賂をもらう政治家も政治家だが、それを贈る企業も企業だ。

Meaning is about what Splatted said in his post.
Reading the exemples I feel the complain focus more on Y than X (though both are to be blamed).

Seems the expression given by ergerg is a variant of that one with only X and no Y.
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Thanks for your help with this, I think I understand now, Splatted's explanation is very helpful.

And I actually was thinking as I wrote "town" that it wasn't quite right, I even thought about editing it, but since that wasn't really the area of my confusion I left it. In any case thanks very much for the detailed explanation, always appreciate it!
Edited: 2017-07-16, 1:43 am
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Hi everyone, can someone please explain what this means and what the grammatical construction is:

(In this short story, some babe is shopping for an apartment and she's telling the real estate agent why she prefers a particular one):

風が強い日は窓を閉めておけばいいから。

I don't know what the construction -TE OKEBAII is.  I've never seen it before.  Thanks.
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閉めて+おく means to close/shut smthg in advance, but here you have conditional form of おく(おけば), so the translation of that sentence would go along those lines:

On the days when the wind is strong, it would be good if you closed (in advance) windows.

One comment on the ending から - typically it can be replaced with よ, so that sentence could easily be phrased as:
風が強い日は窓を閉めておけばいいよ。
Edited: 2017-08-02, 4:11 am
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(2017-08-02, 4:00 am)Inny Jan Wrote: 閉めて+おく means to close/shut smthg in advance, but here you have conditional form of おく(おけば), so the translation of that sentence would go along those lines:

On the days when the wind is strong, it would be good if you closed (in advance) windows.

One comment on the ending から - typically it can be replaced with よ, so that sentence could easily be phrased as:
風が強い日は窓を閉めておけばいいよ。

OK, thanks I get it now.  It's simete okeba ii kara, not simete okebaii kara (in which okebaii is some strange verb form I've never seen.  This is the problem with Japanese not having spaces between words).  Thanks.
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(2017-08-02, 4:00 am)Inny Jan Wrote: 閉めて+おく means to close/shut smthg in advance, but here you have conditional form of おく(おけば), so the translation of that sentence would go along those lines:

On the days when the wind is strong, it would be good if you closed (in advance) windows.
I feel like that translation doesn't quite capture the meaning here -- I think it's closer to "I can just close the window if the wind is strong" (and so a point that seems like a disadvantage of this apartment isn't a big deal to me), especially given that it's the woman saying the line rather than the estate agent. More context would probably clarify one way or the other.
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(2017-08-03, 4:33 am)pm215 Wrote:
(2017-08-02, 4:00 am)Inny Jan Wrote: 閉めて+おく means to close/shut smthg in advance, but here you have conditional form of おく(おけば), so the translation of that sentence would go along those lines:

On the days when the wind is strong, it would be good if you closed (in advance) windows.
I feel like that translation doesn't quite capture the meaning here -- I think it's closer to "I can just close the window if the wind is strong" (and so a point that seems like a disadvantage of this apartment isn't a big deal to me), especially given that it's the woman saying the line rather than the estate agent. More context would probably clarify one way or the other.

You are exactly correct.  In the story the idea is that the woman was concerned about the strong winds, but in the end that is the only apartment available, so she is saying she can put up with the wind because she can always close the windows when it's windy.
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Following some advice I was given in this thread a little over a month ago, I studied Jay Rubin's "Making Sense of Japanese - What the Textbooks Don't Tell You". While it's both a very informative and a very enjoyable read, it raised quite a few new questions for me. Since there doesn't appear to be a specific thread for this book (although there's a YouTube channel with almost the same name), I hope this thread is an appropriate place for some of said questions. Here goes...

On page 59, Rubin gives the following sentence:
たろうちゃんにちょっとやらせてあげてください, which he translates as "Please let little Taro do it (try it, play baseball, etc.)"

Although this follows a discussion of the causative in relation to the various verbs for giving and receiving, I feel this sentence doesn't quite flow naturally from what came before. The following things I think I do understand about it:
- there are 3 parties involved here: the speaker, the listener and Tarou-chan;
- やらせて is やる in the causative (te-)form, which can both indicate making someone do something and allowing someone to do something. Since this translates as a request to let Tarou do something, that seems to track;
- ください indicates that it is a polite request to the listener.

The following points elude me:
- why is あげて included? The te-form of the neutral verb for "to give"... Since ください already makes clear that something is being requested, it seems superfluous to add an extra request to "give" the action. Even more so because the causative itself is already in the te-form, which can also indicate a request. So the fact that something is being requested is already signalled twice in this sentence. Why include a third time? To add something in the sense of "please grant the opportunity" or something along those lines?
- why is やる, as a less than respectful way to describe outbound giving, used to describe what Tarou is requested to be allowed to do? It seems a little odd to make a guess about how Tarou-chan feels toward the party who stands to benefit from his work, so why not stick to neutral あげる?
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agete confused me a little when I read your example as well, but my guess is that you're doing Tarou a favor by letting him try it. "yarasete ageru" = "I'll let you try it" (I'm doing you a favor); "yarasete agete kudasai" = "Please let him try it."

The yaru being used here is do, not give. I'm not sure if these are actually considered separate verbs, or just different meanings of the same verb, but yaru when it doesn't mean give doesn't imply anything about relative status. It only implies relative status when it's in sentences like "I'll give the dog food" or in a -te yaru combination. I think "yarasete kudasai" or "yarasete kuremasen ka" (let me take care of that) to a boss would be entirely appropriate.

Someone else might have a better answer, though. Even after reading Rubin's excellent explanation, I still fumble this often, especially in the more complex variations.
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(2017-08-04, 5:35 pm)tanaquil Wrote: agete confused me a little when I read your example as well, but my guess is that you're doing Tarou a favor by letting him try it. "yarasete ageru" = "I'll let you try it" (I'm doing you a favor); "yarasete agete kudasai" = "Please let him try it."

The yaru being used here is do, not give. I'm not sure if these are actually considered separate verbs, or just different meanings of the same verb, but yaru when it doesn't mean give doesn't imply anything about relative status. It only implies relative status when it's in sentences like "I'll give the dog food" or in a -te yaru combination. I think "yarasete kudasai" or "yarasete kuremasen ka" (let me take care of that) to a boss would be entirely appropriate.

Someone else might have a better answer, though. Even after reading Rubin's excellent explanation, I still fumble this often, especially in the more complex variations.

Maybe the following from another book will help:

-te ageru:  perform an action for the benefit of somebody else, e.g.:
 
Haha ni atarasii boosi o katte agemasita. I bought my mother a new hat.
 
Kutu o migaite agemasyoo ka. Shall I polish your shoes for you?
 
-te kureru:  perform an action for the benefit of the
 
speaker, or somebody that the speaker considers as in his
 
group, e.g.:
 
Eigo no zibiki o kasite kuremasita. He lent me an English dictionary.
 
Hi o tukete kuremasen ka. Won't you please set fire to it?
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(2017-08-04, 5:35 pm)tanaquil Wrote: agete confused me a little when I read your example as well, but my guess is that you're doing Tarou a favor by letting him try it. "yarasete ageru" = "I'll let you try it" (I'm doing you a favor); "yarasete agete kudasai" = "Please let him try it."

The yaru being used here is do, not give. I'm not sure if these are actually considered separate verbs, or just different meanings of the same verb, but yaru when it doesn't mean give doesn't imply anything about relative status. It only implies relative status when it's in sentences like "I'll give the dog food" or in a -te yaru combination.
Yes, I'd agree with all that. Just 'yarasete kudasai' here would be pretty close to 'yarasete agete kudasai', but the latter choice of words implies that the speaker thinks that this would be the listener doing a favour for Tarou. (For yarasete in the "make X do something" sense you probably wouldn't use agete, because making somebody do something is not generally doing them a favour, so using agete also pushes the meaning towards "let"...)
Edited: 2017-08-05, 3:49 am
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