Saturday, September 19, 2015

Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Is the glass half empty or half full? You may have heard of this question. Though we see the same situation, how one expresses depends on one's point of view. Not only this expressions, half empty or half full, what we say conveys how we see the world.

Speaking of Japanese language, we can use both or to describe the same situation, but there's an implicit meaning in each sentence. I mean, which I use depends on what I focus on. (Check this page to see the difference between them!)

I've been tried to explain about the nuance of meaning in terms of point of view (what the speaker focuses on or how it sounds to the listener), rather than just picking up grammar rules. Well, it might not a clear explanation as I'm not a teacher nor a kind of language specialist. :( So excuse me, and please feel free to ask me if my explanation doesn't make sense!

*Japanese Word of the Day*
1) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)し残(のこ)っている。
/koppu ni mizu ga sukoshi nokotte iru/
2) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)しだけ残(のこ)っている。
/koppu ni mizu ga sukoshi dake nokotte iru/
3) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)ししか残(のこ)ってない
/koppu ni mizu ga sukoshi shika nokotte nai/

*コップ(こっぷ) /koppu/ a glass
- I guess it's one of 外来語(loan words), from "a cup” in English. But コップ usually means " a glass", and we say カップ(かっぷ) as "a cup" in English.
*水(みず) /mizu/ water
*少(すこ)し /sukoshi/ a little, a bit
*残(のこ)っている /nokotte iru/ to remain, to be left
- In daily conversation, we often omit and say 残ってる.
- 残って(い)ない is the negative form of 残って(い)る.

All these three sentences can be translated as "A little water remained in the glass". As you guess, it reflects how the speaker feels. Let's have a closer look at each of these sentences.

(1) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)し残(のこ)っている。
This sentence just describes the situation. There's a glass of water, which has a little water.

(2) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)しだけ残(のこ)っている。
Here I added だけ to emphasize there's only a little water in the glass. It focuses on the small amount of water.

/tanjoubi wo oboeteite kureta nowa kare dake datta/
It was only him who remembered my birthday.
*くれた (the past form of くれる) indicates the speaker feels thankful. (Here's more detailed explanation about くれる)

/karakatta dake dayo/
I was just teasing you.

(3) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)ししか残(のこ)ってない
It rather can be translated as "there's little water in the glass". しか always makes the verb negative.

/kono houhou shika nai/
I have no choice except this way.

As you see, it focuses on the negative aspect. There's nothing but something. It's kinda like "half empty". Do you get the picture? :) Now I'd like to add one more sentence.

(4) コップ(こっぷ)に水(みず)が少(すこ)しだけしか残(のこ)ってない

Here, you see both だけ and しか in one sentence.The base of the sentence is (3), so the speaker thinks there's LITTLE water. It's not enough, or too little. He sees its negative aspect. And だけ lays emphasis on the amount of water.

(1) 日本語(にほんご)を少(すこ)しだけ話(はな)せる。
/nihongo wo sukoshi dake hanaseru/

(2) 日本語(にほんご)を少(すこ)ししか話(はな)せない
/nihongo wo sukoshi shika hanase nai/

(3) 日本語(にほんご)を少(すこ)しだけしか話(はな)せない
/nihongo wo sukoshi dake shika hanase nai/

Now you know what the nuance of these 3 sentences, do you?

That's all for today! Thank you for reading, and see you soon! ;)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

It Takes Time

In my previous post, I wrote about transitive verbs and intransitive verbs.

- A transitive verb is a verb that takes objects, and it expresses an action of its subject. The particle comes after the object.
- An intransitive verb, on the other hand, describes the movement of its subject. So you should use the particle は/が which marks the subject of the sentence.

Which you should use, a transitive verb or an intransitive verb, depends on what you want to focus on.

Today I'm going to talk about the verb かける/かかる. Guess which one is a transitive verb? かける/kakeru/ or かかる/kakaru/?

開ける/akeru/ transitive verb <-> 開く/aku/ intransitive verb (to open)
閉める/shimeru/ transitive verb <-> 閉まる/shimaru/ intransitive verb (to close)
つける/tsukeru/ transitive verb <-> つく/tsuku/ intransitive verb (to turn on)

Well, this pattern isn't applied to all transitive verbs, but it would be one clue to guess.

かける/kakeru/ transitive verb <-> かかる/kakaru/ intransitive verb
It has several meanings, but I want to pick up one of them. I show you some example sentences to help you understand its meaning. (I believe it's much better to know how it is used in a sentence than just to see the word to word translation.

かける/kakeru/ to spend time
1a) テスト(てすと)の見直(みなお)しに時間(じかん)をかける
/tesuto no minaoshi ni jikan wo kakeru/
I spend plenty of time on reviewing the exam.

2a) 妻(つま)はいつも時間(じかん)をかけて化粧(けしょう)をする。
/tsuma wa itsumo jikan wo kakete keshou wo suru/
My wife always takes time on putting makeup on.

3a) 一週間(いっしゅうかん)かけて作品(さくひん)を完成(かんせい)させた。
/isshuukan kakete sakuhin wo kansei saseta/
I spent a week to complete my work.

かかる/kakaru/ to take time
1b) テストの見直(みなお)しに時間(じかん)がかかる
/tesuto no minaoshi ni jikan ga kakaru/
It takes time to review the exam.

2b) 妻(つま)は化粧(けしょう)をするのにいつも時間(じかん)がかかる
/tsuma wa keshou wo suru noni itsumo jikan ga kakaru/
My wife always takes time on putting makeup on.

3b) 一週間(いっしゅうかん)かかって作品(さくひん)が完成(かんせい)した。
It took a week to complete my work.

The sentence 1a and 1b, 2a and 2b, 3a and 3b are corresponding to each other. The meaning of the two sentences are very similar but not the same. What the speaker wants to tell, or how it sounds to listener is different. Let's take a closer look at each pair of sentences.

1a) テスト(てすと)の見直(みなお)しに時間(じかん)をかける
1b) テストの見直(みなお)しに時間(じかん)がかかる

*テスト /tesuto/ test, exam
*見直(みなお)し /minaoshi/ review, recheck, double-check

Let's say you have finished the test but still had some time. If you're careful, you'd double check your answer. (If you're not, you still had better do it, though!) You took time to check the answer on your own will. And this is what the sentence 1a implies. On the other hand, 1b implies that the speaker feels bothered or has hard time to finish it. Both 1a and 1b express the same situation (it takes time to do something) but it sounds different, isn't it?

2a) 妻(つま)はいつも時間(じかん)をかけて化粧(けしょう)をする。
2b) 妻(つま)は化粧(けしょう)をするのにいつも時間(じかん)がかかる

*妻(つま) /tsuma/ wife
*化粧(けしょう) /keshou/ makeup

かける is often used before the verb like 時間をかけて〜する, but we don't say 時間がかかって〜する. If it's specific time like 30 minutes, two weeks or a day, besides if you're talking about the past or what you have done, then you can say  かかって〜した.  It's usually used with やっと/ようやく/ついに, which means finally, at last or after all.

/ni jikan kakatte youyaku kaki oeta/
After all it took 2 hours to finish writing it.

*書(か)く /kaku/ to write
*終(お)える /oeru/ to get something done
---> 書(か)き終(お)える to finish writing

Let's get back on the track. As かける intends the subject's own will, 2a implies that his wife takes time as long as she wants, and it's very slow. If he says 時間がかかる like 2b, it implies he thinks it's too long and feels bothered.

3a) 一週間(いっしゅうかん)かけて作品(さくひん)を完成(かんせい)させた。
3b) 一週間(いっしゅうかん)かかって作品(さくひん)が完成(かんせい)した。

*作品(さくひん) /sakuhin/ art work
*完成(かんせい) /kansei/ completion, accomplishment
 -> 完成する to be finished or to be completed
 -> 完成させる to get something done, to complete or finish something

Okay, I'll give you a quiz. =)
There's an artist who's working on a large painting. He never  slack off on any works, and he always spends enough time until he's satisfied. Which sentence implies that he devoted himself to completing his work? 3a, or 3b?

That's all for today, thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave your comment ;-)