Reading ブラックジャックによろしく manga exercises (p14-and up)

I think that construct comes from the fact that the do-er of the action, and the triggerer (the one willing to do) can be different.

  • 食べる : plain transitive form; the one that eats does it because he wants to.
  • 食べられる : passive/potential form; something is eaten (and is the grammatical subject); the will of the one eating is ignored; eating “just happens”; or something can be eaten (it is the grammatical subject), again, the “will” is transferred to the thing that can be eaten, in a sense.
  • 食べさせる : causative form; the action of eating is done by the one that eats, as in the plain form; but the will to do the action is from someone else.

In French causative is done by “faire + V” (to make V happen) or “laisser + V” (to let V happen).

(私が)魚を食べる : (I) eat a fish
(私に)魚が食べられる : (I) can eat a fish
(私を)魚が食べられる : A fish is eaten (by me)
母が(私に)魚を食べさせる : My mother makes/lets (me) eat a fish

(in last example, using 母は would be more natural, but it hides the grammatical role, so I put 母が)

Allowing or requiring is, I think, understood from context; the distinction is not done, grammatically speaking, in Japanese.

(PS: they can be combined; but I haven’t yet gone so far; so I don’t know what exactly would be the meaning nor the grammar, of such things as 食べられさせる or 食べさせられる )

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@Zizka It works like this actually. Remember my ‘R sounds can become ん’ rule? This is one of the examples I mentioned. Here’s the process: 分からない→分かんない→分かんねー Usually, the last syllable is lengthened into ‘nee’, but sometimes, you can just guess from context even without the lengthened syllable. Here, I think the man says, ‘I don’t understand (such) difficult things. I’ll leave it to you.’


Re: 17 post-typo


I think I’ve asked this before so feel free to link me to a previous explanation but how does 本当に relate to 意識(いしき)?I can’t figure out how an adverb modifies a noun. I’m taking 本当に in its descriptive position of 意識(いしき).

Should I process this instead by applying the adverb 本当に to the verb of the sentence?

:speech_balloon:"Old man, are you really unconscious/not conscious?"

I’d say that in Japanese, it’s just that adverbs apply to the phrase (technically ‘clause’) in which they are found. 本当に actually modifies ない here. So yes, you’ve got it. I guess the reason it’s kinda confusing is that in English and French, adverbs are usually near verbs (or at the end of the sentence), but that doesn’t always happen in Japanese.

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Ok so while in French the adverb strictly modifies the verb, in Japanese it’s applied to the whole clause then.



:speech_balloon:Perhaps you can’t open move your eyes, your mouth as well as your body
(in other words, perhaps you are conscious but can’t move your body)

That’s one way of looking at it, but you could just as easily say that in Japanese, adverbs still modify verbs or adjectives, it’s just that word order is different, and usually very flexible. It’s like how in Latin, you can put words in almost any order as long as the verb is at the end. Japanese is a lot like that, because both languages have endings/particles that tell you what role each word plays.

OK, I’m really going out on a limb here coz I’m not sure, but another way of looking at it is that in Japanese, the verb is the centre of the sentence. After all, usually, a verb alone is a complete sentence in Japanese. Everything can be associated with the verb: subject, object, adverb… Except when the verb is だ (which is really a ‘copula’ like ‘to be’), in which case, what comes before だ carries more of the meaning of the sentence. That’s my understanding of it so far.

However… TBH, I’m not completely certain what’s ‘natural’ word order in Japanese. I’m discussing it my friend right now, and we were playing with moving 本当に around in the sentence, so… I’ll update this in a bit. (EDIT: update is below. Keep scrolling.)

In the meantime…

It’s くち unless it’s in compounds. Then it’s ぐち e.g. 入口(いりぐち).

Yeah, I thought about that after I wrote it. To say that an adverb applies to the whole sentence and to say that it applies to the verb is essentially saying the whole thing.

Il dort tranquillement: tranquillement applies to the verb but de facto applies to the whole sentence since the verb applies to the whole sentence. I guess it’d be different it we were dealing with clauses as opposed to sentences but the general concept would remain the same.


Here is (おも)ってる really (おも)って『い』る with the い missing? In other word, the continuous describing (こと)

And so, the answer is… yup, Japanese is like Latin. Word order doesn’t change meaning much, only emphasis. (My friend ended up texting his Japanese friends, and he sent me the conclusions.) What would change between…
あなたは 本当に 意識がないんですか?
あなたは意識が 本当に ないんですか?
…is that the bit before the adverb tends to get a bit of emphasis. So in the first sentence, the old man is the main topic. In the second, the old man’s consciousness is the main topic.

On a lighter note, they literally ended the conversation by saying ‘Japanese really has no grammar’. :rofl:

BTW, I know it was probably a typo, but the other day, you said おじさん=‘old man’. Actually, the length of the vowel changes the meaning. おじさん=uncle. おじいさん=grandfather. Same thing with おばさん=aunt and おばあさん=granny. The longer the vowel, the older the person.

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As the ablative is one of the worst linguistic inventions in history I much prefer the comparison to ancient Greek :smile:
Jokes aside, Japanese barely having actual grammar rules is what makes it one of my favourite languages; it’s incredibly flexible, which makes it hard to get a feel for what sounds natural and what doesn’t, but the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.

Yep! 自分の思ってる (自分が思っている) describes 事.

Don’t you mean Japanese barely has syntax rules? I personally find there’s a lot of morphology to keep track of. I guess it’s a matter of opinion as to what constitutes “barely” I suppose or “grammar rules” for that matter. I personally find there’s quite a bunch although they’re not “hard” rules I guess.

Re 19:


So in this sentence ↑ :
自分(じぶん)(おも)ってる is attributive to (こと) to create:
:speech_balloon: “A thing I’ve been thinking about myself”

Since there’s no word order except for emphasis, “a thing I’ve been thinking about myself” will be the direct object of the verb when it comes up further down the road.

(ひと)『に』will be the indirect object of that same verb later on.

That verb in question turns out to be 云られない, in the passive negative form which according to my dictionary means “to declare” or in this case: “has not been declared”.

だけ:only and じゃない: negative…

:speech_balloon:"There’s a thing I’ve been thinking about myself I just have not declared to that person."
For some reason I have a feeling it’s not right but it if is that would be pretty awesome as it wasn’t an easy sentence.

Having studied German, Latin and ancient Greek the lack of declensions, cases and whatnot constitutes “barely” for me but you’re right it’s not entirely objective haha.

It says 伝えられない - the negative potential form of 伝える.
自分の思ってる事 is 自分が思っている事 (の replaces が in subordinate phrases) - “the things you’re thinking”. 自分 refers to the patient.

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The off-topic bit :stuck_out_tongue:

それはどうかなw… no, but seriously, while I haven’t studied much Latin, I understand that the ablative is the form that basically can mean anything. I remember seeing at least four different functions for it when I tried to pick up Latin…

I’m not so sure about not really ‘having grammar rules’, but hey, I guess you’ve seen at least a bit more than me. For the moment, I agree with @Zizka that Japanese isn’t very strict on syntax. However, from what I’ve seen so far, I have to agree that Japanese doesn’t seem to have much ‘formal grammar’. It doesn’t require you to add extra letters or change the tense/mood of something ‘just because the rules say so’. There’s no grammatical gender and not much conjugation. Almost everything you put into a Japanese sentence is there because it contributes to the meaning of the sentence, and not because of some arbitrary rule, which is amusingly ironic since 仕方がない is a classic Japanese phrase when it comes to rules. I’ve been telling my friends that Japanese is like a programming language, because every word’s ‘type’ is declared and the patterns of change are so standardised.

For me, the frustrating thing is that there seem to be so many ‘grammar points’ which, as Cure Dolly said in a video (I usually don’t watch her videos, but one of them came up on the forums), are really just idioms or common ways of saying things. I’m fine with a language having many idioms, but there doesn’t seem to be a unified way of teaching them. Not to mention that I sometimes feel like certain idioms that are mentioned by JLPT prep sites are impossible to almost encounter in real life. (I mean, the average anime is probably gonna contain at least 5 expressions I don’t know per episode, but somehow, what I’m learning isn’t a grammar point, even though I can imagine using the expression in real life.)

As for how to tell what’s ‘natural’… I guess it’s really about getting a feel for what each expression or verb type is usually used for and what it isn’t used for. I remember having a discussion with my friend about the difference between 今まで…したことがない, 今まで…していない and まだ…していない. In the end, I proposed something after a lot of thinking, and when we asked a Japanese teacher about it, she said it seemed correct. But it was really something about what each type of structure suggested implicitly, because if you try to translate those structures into any European language, you’ll probably get exactly the same thing. It’s something you’ll only learn through experience, I suppose, because my friend has a far better feel for it than I do, even though he can’t always explain why he knows. I mean, it’s kinda the same thing in Chinese, where you can have maybe 3 character pairs that all have the same translation in English, but which you have to use in different contexts because each time you change one character, the nuance changes.

The on-topic bit

Anyway, that was kinda off-topic. :sweat_smile: I was gonna tell @Zizka about the kanji error for 伝えられない, but @ayamedori already did it. I guess I’ll just explain 自分: from what I understand, it’s the ‘self’ of the subject of the sentence in question or of the sentences before. (We do the same thing with 自己 in Chinese, so I have a little experience.) If, in the sentences so far, we’ve been talking about what the patient is doing, then 自分 refers to the patient. If Saitou were talking about what he himself was doing, then 自分 would be Saitou. If he were addressing somebody else and talking about what that person was doing, then 自分 would be that person.

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That’s true, I had never though of it that way. Maybe the polite prefix ーお could be considered a bit superfluous but then again it does add reverence so it’s not useless.

From my limited knowledge of Chinese, I’d say it’s the most lightweight when it comes to grammar. The tones are hard and the pronunciation in general (for someone whose first language is French anyway) but the grammar was almost non existent from what I recall (although correct me if I’m wrong).

So の becomes a subject marker like が when in a subordinate clause?

No, no, you’re absolutely right. I mean, there is grammar in Chinese. I remember finding a book on it in my school library when I was studying for my final Chinese exam. However, Chinese grammar is primarily syntax, and nothing much else: no conjugation, no grammatical gender, no declinations. Word order is important in Chinese, especially modern Chinese, because there are very few particles and function markers. I heard that Classical Chinese was a bit more flexible. I’m not sure about that though, because there are some works written in Classical Chinese that I really like (I’m not fluent enough to read all of it in Classical Chinese, but I can handle some of it), and word order is still roughly the same and sentences/clauses were a ton shorter. Modern Chinese has much longer sentences, so syntax is extremely important.

The other reason it’s important (and this, aside from word order/syntax, is where Chinese and Japanese diverge) is that in Chinese, even though dictionaries define them in a certain way, many words can be both verbs and nouns, and even adjectives, all at the same time. You can only tell what they’re doing from context. For example, almost any verb in Chinese is automatically also a noun, because it can be used as a noun that refers to the action that it describes. For instance, in Japanese, 設定 is a setting, and the verb ‘to set’ is 設定する. In Chinese, 设定 is both a verb and a noun. Also, I can instantly create an adjective by adding 的: 设定的A would be ‘the A set (by someone)’. (And yes, now you know why 的 is such a common な-adjective ending in Japanese. It’s from Chinese usage.) Ultimately though, I guess this changes depending on the dialect, coz I’ve noticed that Teochew, for instance, uses a lot of single words where Mandarin would use character pairs, so I think some dialects are closer to Classical Chinese than Mandarin.

Final thought: TBQH, although I can’t explain why exactly, because I know word order and grammar is different in the two languages, to the point that 漢文(kanbun) is a subject in Japanese schools where students learn to decipher Classical Chinese by following certain word order change rules… I feel like part of why I understand the logic behind a lot of Japanese is because of Chinese. There’s something very similar in both languages, but I’m not sure what it is. If you look at overall sentence structure, Chinese is probably closer to European languages, but if you look break the languages down to the clause level… I think Japanese and Chinese are quite close. We both usually put the topic at the beginning of the sentence, and we both have ‘verb subordinate clause + noun’ structures, just that in Chinese, you have to add a 的. They’re close enough for me to transfer concepts, but different enough that I couldn’t read Japanese without studying Japanese grammar.

Yes. When the clause describes a noun, の and が are equivalent as subject markers. My friend said that の and が used to be almost identical in Old Japanese. One example: 私の国 vs が国. They mean the same thing (‘my country’), it’s just that one structure is older.


ほんまや。Sure, the Greeks were a bit messy with their adverbial cases depending on prepositions and expressions and stuff, but at least they were sensible enough to drop the ablative early on and not make their sentences crazy long and convoluted. Homeric Greek has some remnants of the ablative and even that’s better than Latin - I’m convinced the Latin cases were created by Pluto himself, who then mixed in some Greek loan words anyway just for laughs.


Aside to @Zizka

Regarding 'forum shopping'

I think it’s great here. Any further Analysis may be you spinning your wheels at this point. I wouldn’t say constantly asking the questions of how one can improve and whether one should improve (any thing) is bad; but I can certainly see how exhausting it can be!! I think we are at the point where seeking further improvement would not pass a cost/benefit Analysis. But I enjoyed seeing your report. I agreed with your factors of health of a forum board.

Apologies, peeps.

Now with poking around on Wanikani (and TamanegiNoKame’s “write a sentence every day” thread) and two book clubs (Radish8’s Kiki’s Delivery Service and Crayon Shin-chan) plus keeping you with my regular studies, all of my Black Jack time has been getting used up reading your guys’ posts!

OOP!! I forgot to say before: “forum shopping” is a legal term about when you are searching for a court most likely to be amenable to your side. It was a poor pun (the only kind I am capable of making), but I couldn’t resist.

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Well there’s certainly a lot worse as far as forums are concerned.
‘‘Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien’’ as they say.

The interface could be more dynamic (code-less) and participation could be better. But then again, as long as I’m learning and have people to coach me, what other people do isn’t really important at the end of the day.

This is an example from Word Reference. Everything is supported ‘‘natively’’, there’s no code anywhere. Underlined is also supported. I think there’s an option to have BB Code automatically formatted into “invisible code” but I really don’t know much about forums in general.

Oh well, guess you can’t have everything.

More ancient language off-topic

Sadly, I don’t know as much as you. I’ll have to actually try to study Latin to figure out exactly what you’re saying. (I have a Latin course waiting for me at home. I’ll try to open it some time within the next four years.) However, I know that there were traditionally 9 (I think) cases, and 3 or 4 of them got merged into the ablative case in Latin (the locative, for instance. And I know the ablative indicates the manner or means as well.) I can imagine how crazy it must be when Latin sentences get longer. For that matter, when I try to read the Bible in Latin, I can’t always understand what’s going on, and that’s in spite of the fact that I roughly know what’s supposed to be written there! It’s probably OK when you keep the clauses short, but if you don’t, well… yeah. I have a feeling I’ve seen at least one Latin sentence in which one ablative case was for manner, while another was for location, and it was already hard to decipher.

About forum-shopping

@Shannon-8 @Zizka I think WaniKani is probably the best place to do this activity. I haven’t seen a language forum this dynamic and flexible before, not mention that people here are pretty participative. In terms of knowledge sharing and friendliness, I would have recommended WordReference as our next choice, but as Zizka has found out, WordReference is really meant for language questions and serious, focused discussions. I wouldn’t say it’s ‘militaristic’, but it’s definitely not meant for ‘activities’. It’s really a Q&A forum that’s more translation-friendly than, say, Stack Exchange, and where in-depth discussions are allowed. I used it when learning French. I’m no forum connoisseur, but I haven’t seen many forums that are as well-designed as WaniKani’s, and almost no other forum can handle this many posts while remaining easy to navigate. Most of the other free forums run on some version of a free framework called BBoard or something like that, which is really clunky.

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