Short Grammar Questions (Part 2)

Yeah, it makes perfect sense with the line preceding and the one following. Thanks for the feedback.

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構成のしっかりしたプロットでも、台詞がありきたりだと面白くなくなる。

This comes from the WK example for 構成.

It says 構成のしっかりしたプロット is ‘well structured plot’, but wouldn’t that be しっかりした構成のプロット? I feel like I don’t understand the word しっかりした, or something.

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If I wrote it as 構成がしっかりしたプロットwould that make sense to you.

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Absolutely. So how does の come to work out the same way?

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Uhh I don’t know the technical reasons so maybe someone can give you the proper explanation, but you can use it in place of ga when it’s in like a smaller clause. I think it’s called a relative clause if you know what that means

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Scroll up a bit:

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Historical digression follows, which is of no practical use for understanding modern Japanese…

The history of the ‘no’ and ‘ga’ particles is complicated.

Frellesvig says that in Old Japanese there was no subject-marker (nominative) particle; both ‘no’ and ‘ga’ were genitive and did the job of modern ‘no’, which is to say marking that one noun modifies another (NOUN-no-NOUN) plus marking subjects in relative clauses. The distinction was semantic – ‘ga’ for humans, and ‘no’ for anything. Main-declarative-sentence subjects were zero-marked (as is still possible in spoken Japanese today).

But at some point in Late Middle Japanese ‘ga’ makes a big change, losing its role as a genitive particle and becoming a subject-marker particle. Frellesvig says this is “one of the few major syntactic changes to have taken place in the attested history of Japanese”. This big role change for ‘ga’ has pushed ‘no’ out of most of the ‘works as subject marker in relative clause’ work that it previously had, but ‘no’ is still clinging on in short clauses. You might want to check back in 400 years to see if ‘no’ has lost the battle entirely. Conversely, because ‘ga’ has given up on the genitive role, that ground is now left entirely to ‘no’, though you can occasionally see its fossilised remains in words like ‘wagaya’ ‘my house’.

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This sounds right, listen to this guy @scallions

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I’m reading a manga where occasionally an old fox spirit shows up. When they do, their past tense is in an unusual form. For example, 言うた instead of 言った. This reminded me of how 請う・乞う and 問う conjugate that way even in modern Japanese. Does anyone know if all verbs (or at least all 四段 or う四段 verbs) used to just attach the た to the verb for past tense? Or is this た not even past tense? I tried looking on this 四段 conjugation page and didn’t see any information there in the conjugation table or examples. Googling for “言うた” gives some results claiming that it’s just kansai-ben, but that explanation is unsatisfactory given the context of the manga. Any explanation or reference on this would be helpful.

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Do you have other examples of this unusual form ? What about ichidan verb?

Kind of a long shot, but maybe the spirit’s speak is written in historical kana? Before ww2 the little っ was just written つ (and people had to figured out based on context).

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Some normal usages:

  • あった
  • 追った
  • 持った

Other “weird” usages:

  • 会うた and 思うた in the sentence 千矢に初めて会うた時、面白い目をしていると思うたか…

No ichidan verb usages in past tense that I can see. I do find it a bit odd that 言う, 会う, and 思う get the weird conjugation, but 追う gets the normal conjugation… Could just be an oversight I suppose.

I don’t see any historical kana spellings. No ふ in place of う or anything like that here. There’s plenty of other older language like ending sentences with じゃ, わらわ as the first person pronoun, lots of ぬ for negation. But nothing that unusual other than these past tense verb conjugations.

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I think this is about what Frellesvig calls vocalic versus consonantal onbin, and it affects -w, -b, and -m base verbs, and should be visible in the -te form as well as the past tense.

In Late Middle Japanese these could apparently be pronounced either way, eg yobu → yoode or yonde; yomu → yoode or yonde, towu → toote or totte, and F says the same verbs were sometimes written both ways within a single text. However by the end of that period (early 1600s) this seems to have settled down into a dialect difference, with the Christian sources of that time consistently using the vowel version for the Kyoto/Kansai speech that they took as the baseline, and noting use of the consonant version as a particularity of Eastern/Kanto dialects. Which is roughly where we are now, give or take the effects of losing ‘w’, since modern standard Japanese is based on Kanto dialect, not Kyoto.

No idea what the author’s intention or a typical native reader’s reaction to this particular dialect quirk would be, though. Does the fox spirit present as noble/aristocratic? Country/rural? Elderly?

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Which of those verb endings represents modern Japanese’s う ending though? Given what little knowledge of classical Japanese I have, I would expect these う verbs to historically be ふ. The dictionary I just checked agrees with that and then also describes them as ハ四, which makes sense since that’s the row that ふ is in. That doesn’t seem like -w, -b, or -m, so I might still be missing something.

Ah, so it’s both regional and historical. Interesting.

The fox spirit appears by possessing one of the main characters. So no physical representation unfortunately.

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The “w” one, I think. Technically the w- row of kana is missing a few sounds, but for the purpose of verb conjugations those would be わいうえを. So the “wu” equivalent in modern Japanese would be う.

Knowing that the verbs ending in ふ got changed to う due to phonetic changes makes me think of this post I read recently about は, which makes me wonder if maybe there’s a similar connection between ふ and う.

I’ve often seen the trope in fiction for supernatural entities like foxes to speak in a Kansai-ish dialect. It may be something simple as an association between “Kyoto” and “old-fashioned”. It could be because Kyoto used to be the capital, which would make Kyoto dialect the “standard Japanese” of its time, which would reflect the character’s age (or something like that).

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Yeah, sorry, I kind of skipped that bit. The modern verbs iu ‘say’ au ‘meet’ tou ‘ask’ kuu ‘eat’ are all listed by Frellesvig as -w stem. The sound changes are complicated and I can’t find a clear place where F describes them, but I think what happens is that initially (ie in Old Japanese) these verbs are pronounced with a ‘p’ sound, eg ‘to meet’ has a verb base ‘ap-’, and written with はひふへほ which at that time were pronounced pa pi pu pe po. Then there is a -p- to -w- sound change when the ‘p’ is between two vowels (complicated by it being different when the following vowel is ‘u’…) in the second half of the 10th century. After that comes the p-to-f-to-h change. In particular the latter did not come with a change to the kana – はひふへほ just used to mean ‘p plus vowel’ and then changed to mean the new f/h pronunciation. So ふ is the historical kana used for this set of verbs, because they used to be -p verbs – but the first of the above two sound changes shifted them out of the way to -w, so they didn’t get caught by the second change and were still -w at the point of the LMJ vocalic-vs-consonatal onbin thing (but I guess they were still written with the same kana spelling). Frellesvig talks about -w stems when discussing the onbin because he cares about how they sounded at that point in time, rather than the kana written form. -w then later still ends up largely disappearing itself, which is how we get to modern ‘sounds like u’.

Disclaimer: it’s late here and I tried to synthesize that from a quick scan of multiple different bits of the book, so there’s a fair chance I mangled some of it along the way.

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I’m reading よつばと!and I came across this grammar construction I haven’t noticed before:

せっかくなんでちょっといい女になっとこうかと思います.

Could someone help break this down for me?

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成っておく in volitional form.

Does that help?

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Soo, I’m doing a challenge book to get my speed up a notch and this sentence tripped me up.
それについて、もう少しご説明いただけたらと思いまして。
Good ol keigo :smiley:

The challanges are little sentences without context and you have to answer if it is a correct sentence or not. This one is marked as correct.

Now stuff I found online has most often ご説明いただけたら/ければ幸いです or somesuch as example wich is totally understandable. But the と思いまして ater the たら throws me for a loop. I have a problem making that sentence make sense in my head.
“If i could get a little more explanation, I think” what the hell should that mean?

Any help appreciated.

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I think something is implied after the いただけたら, such as いい. I’ve also seen sentences ending with たら in a rising inflection with an implied どう. Either way, something left unsaid after the たら makes the most sense to me.

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Yes, たら isn’t the end of a sentence, so there must be something omitted from the thing the speaker is ‘thinking’. This kind of “leave the end of the sentence unsaid for the listener to fill in” trick is very common, especially if you’re being polite.

As a translation:
“I think perhaps if you could provide a little more explanation?”
is not too unnatural as spoken English and is using basically the same trick of providing an ‘if’ clause and leaving the ‘then’ unspoken. (Saying it in a received-pronunciation British accent may help :-))

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