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! ;)

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