レンタルおにいちゃん - Week 3 Discussion (Absolute Beginners Book Club)

this is a contracted form of: かえらなくては(いけない・ならない・だめ)
if don’t go home, (implied not good) → should go home.

This sentence was discussed previously in the first couple responses to this topic.

As for quick breakdown:
  • おにいちゃんとして (as a big brother)
  • (おれ)は (I)
  • 上手(うま)(わら)えている (successfully/well smiling - a little odd to directly translate, but the idea is “smiling good”, “smiling like a good brother would”)
  • だろうか (-“I wonder (if)”, self-question-)
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For a comparison with English, imagine you’re somewhere with a friend, and they look at the time and say “If I don’t head home now…” From context, you can tell that something bad will happen if they don’t head home now. Maybe they’ll be caught in traffic. Maybe they’ll miss the last bus. Maybe they’ll miss their favorite game show on TV. Maybe they won’t be there when their kid gets home from school. The bad result isn’t spoken, but you can gather that when they say “If I don’t head home now…” what they mean is “I’d better head home now,” “I have to head home now”, “I must head home now.”

You will see this construct used commonly in Japanese. It took me a while to fully wrap my head around the grammar behind it.

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I’ve seen instances where the main word is what’s really said, and I’ve seen instances where the furigana is what’s really said. Sometimes I’m left trying to figure out which is really being said!

This is another reason I like this manga for ABBC. You get to see crazy furigana usage. (I think this only happens maybe twice in the volume.)

In other manga, I’ve seen where the word is a bunch of kanji, and the furigana has an English word in katakana as the reading. I’ve also seen where the word is hiragana or katakana, and the furigana is kanji (sometimes called furikanji).

In this case, I’d learn toward he’s saying レンタル, but the furigana is emphasizing the meaning of the word.

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When an い adjective modifies a verb, the い becomes く, and as a modifier, it limits the meaning of the verb. Rather than simply “smile”, it gives an indication of the type of smile. Is it a joyful smile? Is it a sorrowful smile? Big brother is thinking about how this moment (the end of the rental period) always feels, and he’s thinking of how he should probably skillfully smile. “Skillfully” in this case refers to how good he is at it. It would be bad for him to look sad that the rental is over, so he has to do a good job at smiling. He has to be skillful at smiling as he takes his payment.

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Page 26 bottom panel

A couple of questions about this one:
それからまた兄に拒絶されたらまたここでひとりきりでなくのだろうか

In 拒絶されたら, されたら is a conditional with the た form of される, like in the passive form of する?
In ichi.moe gives the following indication for されたら: “makes a verb from a noun (honorific or passive)”, that I don’t understand very well, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something here.

As for the complete meaning of the sentence, I understand something on the line of “I wonder if after this, when she is rejected from her brother again, she will be here crying all alone again”, but both google translator and DeepL give a different meaning, “If my brother rejects me again, I’m not alone here again” and “And if my brother rejects me again, I won’t be here alone again.” respectively, that seem to agree in a negative sense for the second part… is that so?

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I read it as “If her brother rejects her again, will she cry by herself here again?”

される is the passive form of する, which in this case implies the potential rejection is a bad thing (which is pretty obvious anyhow). It’s got たら smacked on the end of it (される→された→されたら) which is a grammar point that means “if.” So, the first chunk of the sentence is something like “If her older brother rejects her again.”

Regarding those translations: a key thing to keep in mind is they lack the context of the dialogue. DeepL is actually pretty good these days in my experience, however it often assumes a sentence is talking about the speaker when that isn’t the actual intent. This is simply because information that is obvious due to context is typically left out in Japanese. So, without the context of of the manga, it assumes the speaker is talking about themselves, because no subject is mentioned. However, since we’re reading the manga, you and I know that おにいちゃん is talking about Kanami; it is her that will be alone, not おにいちゃん。

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Translation seems to be mistaking なく, connective form of ない with 泣く, “to cry.” Try using the kanji to give it a hint?

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Regarding the passive form of verbs in Japanese, there’s something I wish I knew about it a long time ago, as it was a very long running source of confusion for me.

This is a bit long and grammary, but I highly recommend it.

What does passive mean in grammar? According to “Grammar and Composition Handbook High School 1” (Glencoe, McGraw-Hill):

passive voice: An action verb is in the passive voice when its action is performed on the subject.

Here, the action is performed on the subject, whereas in Japanese, the action is always performed by the subject.

When is the passive voice used in English? From the same book:

Generally the active voice is stronger, but at times the passive voice is preferable or even necessary. If you don’t want to call attention to the performer of the action or don’t know who the performer is, use the passive voice.

The big takeaway here is “if you … don’t know who the performer is”. In Japanese, the subject is left unspoken all the time, and there’s really no distinguishing between a sentence where the subject is unspoken yet known from context, and a sentence where the subject is spoken and unknown even within context.

Here’s the main portion of the sentence from the manga (with the subject added and the conditional removed):

叶実(かなみ)ちゃんがまた(あに)拒絶(きょぜつ)される」

Passive voice: “Kanami-chan was rejected by her brother again.”

In this sentence, the brother is performing the action of rejecting. However, in Japanese, the が-marked subject is the one performing the action. We know the brother cannot be the subject, because he’s marked with に.

Active voice: “Kanami-chan received rejection from her brother again.”

Here, Kanami is the one performing the action. What is the action? “Receiving rejection.” This is consistent with Kanami being the subject of the sentence, and her brother not being the subject.

This form, which is explained on this page of a Japanese grammar site, is known in Japanese as ()().

What is うけみ? If you look it up in a Japanese to English dictionary, it’ll simply say “the passive voice”, but this isn’t an actual translation. This is “there’s no English grammar term for this concept, so here’s an English grammar term for a completely different concept that sounds a bit similar”.

If you break ()() apart, you get:

  • ()ける: to receive
  • (): body

That matches up with the active voice sentence I wrote above, where Kanami “received rejection”.

The Japanese grammar site goes on to define/explain うけみ (I’ve added English translations), starting with example sentences:

Example sentence: 「他人 笑われる。」

「笑われる」は、話し手(書き手)が他人の「笑う」という 動作を受ける という意味を表しています。

In the word 「笑われる」 (the うけみ form of わらう, to laugh), the speaker (writer) is is receiving the action from another person laughing.

Example sentence: 「観客 から 声援せいえんを かけられる。」

同じように、「かけられる」は、観客の「かける」という 動作を受ける という意味を表しています。

Likewise, the word 「かけられる」 (the うけみ form of かける, to address someone), the subject is receiving the action of being addressed by the audience.

どちらの例文も、 【―に】 または 【―から】 の形の文節が「笑う」「かける」という動作をする主体を表しています。

In both cases, the word or phrase marked by 【―に】 or 【―から】 marks the actor of the action “to laugh” or “to address”.

このように、 他からなんらかの動作を受ける ことを 受け身 といいます。

In this way, the concept of receiving an action from another is called うけみ.

Anyone who’s seen CureDolly’s grammar videos on this form know she prefers to call it the “receptive form”, a term I personally agree with, and use myself.

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Was just about to mention this, that video really helped me to get it into my head

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:heart: I’ve always struggled with passive form so I really appreciate this explanation!

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Right! While transcribing it I forgot the 泣 kanji, putting it back in the sentence instead of な change the translation of both sites to a correct one.

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I know this is a little off-topic, but I have to ask: what IS this channel?

I’ve seen content from this channel shared in this forum multiple times by now, and it is always held up to such high regards. I myself found the content very clarifying, but also very… different?

I just don’t understand what’s going on there. Who is CureDolly? Is she Japanese? Is she even a real person? I know all of this doesn’t matter in the end, because the content and explanation are very good, but I can’t help but wonder…

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She’s certainly an acquired taste, lol. I’ve tried watching her videos on several occasions, but I can’t get past the presentation.

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CureDolly is presented as a “self-learning A.I. android”, but is essentially an avatar used by a non-Japanese person who has learned Japanese. Aside from her YouTube channel, she also has a Japanese language learning web site.

Her main claim to fame is that she focuses more on learning Japanese grammar using Japanese grammar, rather than English grammar. (See: receptive form versus passive voice.)

I’m sure other sources do similar, but CureDolly wraps them up into an audio/visual format, which is beneficial for learners who need more than a bunch of text alone.

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Page 26 Bottom middle

またここでひとりきりで泣くのだろうか

What is this きり after ひとり? For the のだろ is it making the 泣く possessive of the だろ? Or is it being used in a different way? “Crying” being possessive of “seems” is kinda confusing so I was wondering about that.

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It’s not after it, it’s part of it. :slightly_smiling_face:

Undoubtedly. However, I don’t have the book, and I’m not too clear on what it’s doing without the context.

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I feel silly now, I must’ve typed in the wrong thing on Jisho. Thanks! :sweat_smile:

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If I’m not mistaken, this is another case were の turns the statement before it into a noun, and then you have だ, making it a “A is B” type sentence:

「It is that これから また兄に 拒絶されたら またここで ひとりきりで 泣く」

It is that from here, if her brother rejects her again, she’ll be by herself and crying.

だ is a statement of fact. However, our rental big brother doesn’t know for fact that this is going to happen. In English, we introduce this uncertainty with words such as “probably”, “surely”, “maybe”. In Japanese, this is done by changing だ to だろう.

“It is probably that from here, if her brother rejects her again, she’ll be by herself and crying.

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That’s really helpful. Thank you!

のだ is something that took so long for me to really “get”, and even when I had the basics behind it down, it took a while to properly understand it. Once I learned it in a way I can understand (via “CureDolly” videos first, then the early lessons in “Japanese the Manga Way” to further clarify), it still took encountering it many times in manga (reading tens of volumes), and breaking down what it did to the sentence and what it brought to the dialogue, for me to even begin to really get used to it.

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Thank you once again for all the helpful discussion! There were some doozies in this week’s reading, but I’m happy to see myself recognizing some grammar coming back up from before (notably しか + ~ない)!

I also want to congratulate everyone on reaching the end of the first full chapter!! :grin: It feels good to end on a proper breaking point this week.

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More of a general question but: how do you guys go about writing 叶実(かなみ) on your keyboard? Do you have any tricks to finding the right kanji for her name?

I use the builtin Japanese Keyboard Input Source from macOS, and it takes me ages to find the correct kanji if I type “かなみ + space”—to a degree that I copy and paste it whenever I need it.

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