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sumofan

Translation question

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Hey guys, I've been studying Japanese for some time now, and I have started translating a children's tale in an attempt to read it and get some feeling for the actual language patterns instead of just grammar and kanji.

I can make sense of it, but something is puzzling me. The story is about momotaro (which you might know). Anyway, in the beginning some people are introduced, one of which is an old man who gathers firewood to make a living. it says '薪を取ってきてそれを売って暮らしを立てています' which translates to gather firewood to sell at the village to make a living'

A Japanese person once wrote that translation for me, but at the moment I can't easily ask him for more explanation. The first thing I did was to figure out which kanji were used (it was written in hiragana) which I think I did correctly. But I have 2 questions

1) the part about gathering firewood uses tottekite which I've had trouble interpreting. The to part means 'to gather', so why is the 'ki' still needed? The only sensible thing I could come up with was that it stems from 'kiru' in which tottekite means 'cut and gather' rather than just cut. Is that correct?

2) if kurasu itself already means 'to make a living', why would the writer use ' kurashi o tate' instead of 'kurashite'

I hope my questions are at least understandable. I know what confuses me, but I don't know if I was able to correctly explain it, with my limited grasp of Japanese grammar.

Edited by sumofan

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Hey guys, I've been studying Japanese for some time now, and I have started translating a children's tale in an attempt to read it and get some feeling for the actual language patterns instead of just grammar and kanji.

I can make sense of it, but something is puzzling me. The story is about momotaro (which you might know). Anyway, in the beginning some people are introduced, one of which is an old man who gathers firewood to make a living. it says '薪を取ってきてそれを売って暮らしを立てています' which translates to gather firewood to sell at the village to make a living'

A Japanese person once wrote that translation for me, but at the moment I can't easily ask him for more explanation. The first thing I did was to figure out which kanji were used (it was written in hiragana) which I think I did correctly. But I have 2 questions

1) the part about gathering firewood uses tottekite which I've had trouble interpreting. The to part means 'to gather', so why is the 'ki' still needed? The only sensible thing I could come up with was that it stems from 'kiru' in which tottekite means 'cut and gather' rather than just cut. Is that correct?

2) if kurasu itself already means 'to make a living', why would the writer use ' kurashi o tate' instead of 'kurashite'

I hope my questions are at least understandable. I know what confuses me, but I don't know if I was able to correctly explain it, with my limited grasp of Japanese grammar.

Tottekite as I see it: Totte comes from toru (to take, to gather) and kite is the "come about" as it were. Mottekite means go bring it, or goes and brings it- tottekite is " goes and takes/gathers it", I think..The "ki" is from kite, to come - like in "kokoni kite kudasai". Difficult to explain, sorry..

Kurashi wo tateru simply is the more elaborate way of saying "earning a living" or,. technically - "making the living stand", if you can see what I'm getting at. Probably like the difference between "earning a living" and "sustaining a living".

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Thanks. Now I see. The ki is from kuru, not kiru...

You know, this is imo the hardest part about Japanese. Not the kanji or kana. That's just a matter of repetition.

What really makes things difficult, is that there is no 1 to 1 relation between words and meaning. In English, Dutch or French, 1 word (1 collection of phonems) means 1 thing. In Japanese, 1 concept has multiple phonems attached to it (unyomi and kunyomi), and 1 phonem (such as to, or ki) can mean multiple concepts.

So when you hear spoken Japanese, or read hiragana, it is a big challenge to figure out not only the grammar, but what the phonems probably mean in that particular context.

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You know, this is imo the hardest part about Japanese. Not the kanji or kana. That's just a matter of repetition.

What really makes things difficult, is that there is no 1 to 1 relation between words and meaning. In English, Dutch or French, 1 word (1 collection of phonems) means 1 thing. In Japanese, 1 concept has multiple phonems attached to it (unyomi and kunyomi), and 1 phonem (such as to, or ki) can mean multiple concepts.

So when you hear spoken Japanese, or read hiragana, it is a big challenge to figure out not only the grammar, but what the phonems probably mean in that particular context.

Well, coming from Hebrew, Japanese is a walk in the park.. Try remembering that the word for "you" in Hebrew is subject to gender, so you(feminine), you (masculine) and you (plural, different word for plural feminine and masculine) are different words .

And that's the easy part.

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You know, this is imo the hardest part about Japanese. Not the kanji or kana. That's just a matter of repetition.

What really makes things difficult, is that there is no 1 to 1 relation between words and meaning. In English, Dutch or French, 1 word (1 collection of phonems) means 1 thing. In Japanese, 1 concept has multiple phonems attached to it (unyomi and kunyomi), and 1 phonem (such as to, or ki) can mean multiple concepts.

So when you hear spoken Japanese, or read hiragana, it is a big challenge to figure out not only the grammar, but what the phonems probably mean in that particular context.

Well, coming from Hebrew, Japanese is a walk in the park.. Try remembering that the word for "you" in Hebrew is subject to gender, so you(feminine), you (masculine) and you (plural, different word for plural feminine and masculine) are different words .

And that's the easy part.

Not to mention that you're supposed to guess the vowels in Hebrew ... wouldn't leave much of my name.

Orion

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Not to mention that you're supposed to guess the vowels in Hebrew ... wouldn't leave much of my name.

Orion

Well, that's writing which is a totally different and impossible package..

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Hey guys, I have a follow up question.

In the first part of the page, the story tells how the old man collects firewood (takagi wo tottekite) and kintamayama said it means something like 'goes and gathers firewood'. Would it be correct to say that even though kuru means 'to come', the Japanese sometimes use it in the same way that we would say 'go and do something'?

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Hey guys, I have a follow up question.

In the first part of the page, the story tells how the old man collects firewood (takagi wo tottekite) and kintamayama said it means something like 'goes and gathers firewood'. Would it be correct to say that even though kuru means 'to come', the Japanese sometimes use it in the same way that we would say 'go and do something'?

Exactly- "mottekite" literally means "bring and come" somewhat..

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Hey guys, I have a follow up question.

In the first part of the page, the story tells how the old man collects firewood (takagi wo tottekite) and kintamayama said it means something like 'goes and gathers firewood'. Would it be correct to say that even though kuru means 'to come', the Japanese sometimes use it in the same way that we would say 'go and do something'?

"-te kuru" vs. "-te iku" is somewhat of a nightmare, one of the function is to indicate for example a direction that is moving away from the current location of the speaker ("-te kuru) or coming ( darn! you see?) moving towards the current location or time of the speaker ("-te iku). I think this is the case for your example, an indication that some action is pointing away from the current location of the speaker/narrator.

It is a matter of perspective / reference, but there are other meanings as well, so it is fair to say that it's

a nasty can of worms (Thinking in depth...)

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Thanks for your help, all.

I am currently trying to translate page 2 of momotaro. As soon as I have that ready, I'll probably want to check if my translation matched the actual text. It's frustrating that 4 lines of text, meant for an audience of 5 year olds, can take so much time.

Then again, Japanese people learning Dutch are not having an easy time either.

:-)

Edited by sumofan

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Hey guys, I have another question. Btw, if you get annoyed with my questions, just say so and I’ll stop pestering you. :)

I understand the difference between te and tari, however, there is something still unclear to me. Or rather, 2 things. The first is this: With the list of stuff the old man does, the te form is used to indicate that the various things belong together: Collecting firewood to sell in the village to make a living. However, the sentence ends with 暮らしを 立て ていました. Why is the ‘te’ 2 times at the end there?

And then the second thing:

For the old woman, there is a list of things joined together with tari, which I interpret as just a list of independent things. However, at some point, tari and te are joined together. Would it be correct to conclude that the ‘shitarishite’ concludes the general listing of things, and then joins that list to the household work to mean that she did the household work AND a list of other things?

お祖母さんは 畑を耕したり,お掃除したり、川で 洗濯したりして、留守番を していました

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I'll give it a shot. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

1. The verb is 立てる with the te-form 立てて

2. I'd say her household work included the listed things, among other things

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