How much can you "pile on" when it comes to grammar structures that seem to be endlessly pile-able?

Hello everyone !

I have been using Wanikani for a few months now, and started getting a little bit more into grammar as of late. I’m a complete beginner and at this point have pretty much no ear for what sounds right and what sounds awkward when building a more complex sentence than me want potty.
Now my question is, considering how many different grammar structures have a pattern of agglutinating to another grammar structure, just how far could you go with this, and whether there are actually rules about how much is too much ? I’m very curious.
Here is an example of what I mean:

食べ始めやすくなりたくなかった

In my head this would mean “I didn’t want it to become easy to begin to eat”

Could this work grammatically ? Is it awkward because of too much accumulation ? Is it complete gibberish ?

Thank you

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That looks gramattically correct to me, but I couldn’t for the life of me think of when you’d use that :joy:

Piling on more conjugations and auxiliary verbs than you’re used to is something you need to get used to in Japanese. It’s not something English does in quite that way, but in essence the phrase “didn’t want it to become easy to begin to eat” is no less complex than 食べ始めやすくなりたくなかった, the spaces just make it look that way - you still have a bunch of auxiliary verbs and such that modify each other in various ways to arrive at a single concept.

I think this is a bit like the “keep tacking on words to make a new word” thing you have in languages like Dutch. You can theoretically do it forever and end up with a word like fietsventieldopjesfabrikantenhoofdkwartierbeheerdersparkeerplaatsbewakingscamera (the security camera guarding a parking space for the manager of a bicycle tyre valve manufacturer’s headquarters) but there’s definitely a point where that becomes unnatural to do (like with that word… nobody says that).

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Many things work grammatically that people don’t actually say. You could say 痛くなくなくなくなくない if you wanted. Doesn’t mean you should. :slight_smile:

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I don’t see this as being an actual sentence I’d use either haha. I wrote it with the sole intent of piling up stuff wondering if it was technically correct and usable in real life or not.
I’m curious as to where the limit is between stuff that is usable and stuff that is not. I’ve never learned a language with a system resembling this of japanese so I have no idea what is acceptable or not in terms of accumulating stuff like that. The english sentence we may never hear in real life, but it is a structure we may read in a book and it sounds fairly natural to me. On the other hand, I have no idea if expressing it the way I wrote it in japanese would read unnatural. Maybe it is necessary with such sentences to separate the parts, I have no idea, because I can’t identify the point at which it actually becomes too much

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That’s where your limit is :wink:

It may take a while to get that feel for it, but at this point it’s not very useful to worry about that. In Dutch it’s also immediately clear that a word like the one I wrote is unusual precisely because it was written just for the sake of piling stuff on. I imagine much the same would apply in Japanese. If it’s a construction that naturally follows from what you want to say, it’s fine. If you’re tacking stuff on beyond that, it stops being natural.

As always (I’m a software engineer, I love this phrase): It Depends™. What’s natural or even expected in one context is completely out of place in another.

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It may take a while to get that feel for it, but at this point it’s not very useful to worry about that.

I’m asking out of sheer curiosity and interest rather than worry. I’m pretty certain I’ll eventually pick up on what’s natural and what’s not from exposure to material. My asking right now is a case of me trying to take a peak way ahead of my level because I get overly curious about new things that are mysterious to me

unusual precisely because it was written just for the sake of piling stuff on. I imagine much the same would apply in Japanese. If it’s a construction that naturally follows from what you want to say, it’s fine. If you’re tacking stuff on beyond that, it stops being natural.

That sounds about right

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Yomichan’s analysis of what you wrote is pretty funny :joy:

image

Checks out. It’s not not not not not painful :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I have a feeling it was a question like this that resulted in the word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

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As others noted, there’s no theoretical limit to how much you can build up conjugations, but there is a practical limit. Any verb conjugated 5 or 6 times can also be rephrased as an expression broken up into multiple words that will be more easily understood.

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Or humuhumunukuapua’a

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thank you !

It’s funny to see that the english language actually has word that started out as a hoax but people ended up actually using it in real life. I really can’t understand why people would want to actually use that word (except that it is funny). The poor medicine students that have to write that down in an exam. I’m still low-key traumatized by having to write “Heiliges Römisches Reich deutscher Nation” (the “old” name of my country) in history class. And that is ten letters shorter. I always imagine lawyers and people working in administration silently crying when they have to write or say words like “Straßenentwässerungsinvestitionskostenschuldendienstumlage” or even longer terms.

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I just stumbled across "かざっておきたくなるような” (かざる+ておく+ たい+なる+よう) and immediately had to think about this thread :joy:
As long as it conveys what you want to say everything should be fine.

oh my so the monster forms do appear in the wild
Thanks for sharing

Sure. People are people after all. :wink:

You’ll even hear @seanblue ’s ○なくなくない in even pairings for positive and odd pairings for negative.

You can also build up clauses and noun descriptors pretty much the same way as in German. I think that’s where the fun is :smiley: .

As everyone has said, I think it’s grammatically correct. However, I have a feeling that your sentence actually means ‘I didn’t want to become easy to start to eat’ (i.e. the thing that would start to be eaten would be you).

Personally, how I would parse this would be by breaking the sentence in two like this:

食べ始めやすく||なりたくなかった

The first half is fundamentally an adjective (〜やすい, with ~ being determined by the verbs you chose), and the second half is fundamentally a form of a verb (なる). The two interact the same way as in the base structure 〜くなる・〜になる (for い-adjectives and な-adjectives respectively).

However, honestly, these ‘structure chains’ are only common in writing. I don’t think they come up all that much in speech, though they can.

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