Deconstructing Japanese Part 2

Since part one was just the last post, let’s not recap, shall we?  (This article will probably make more sense if you read yesterday’s post first.  Don’t feel obligated.  Just a suggestion.)

In his article, Tim Ferriss adds two new sentences to his original six, so let’s see what they teach us about Japanese.

I must give it to him.


Literally this would be I は him に (it) を give needful が exists.

So, we certainly that Japanese is a little funky (and I mean that in a good way).  Technically, as this sentence is written, everything before が is actually just one long subject.  We might translate this sentence as “As for me, a necessity for giving it to him exists.”  That’s clunky, but it’s pretty much what the Japanese says.  I’m going to say that the most important thing we learned here is that Japanese is not English, so don’t expect it to be.  Whew.  Oh, and while to need is a verb in English, the Japanese equivalent is an adjective.

I want to give it to her.


I certainly could have translated this in a similar way to the sentence above making use of 欲しい.  Just as we might call 必要 an adjective meaning something like needful, we can call 欲しい and adjective meaning something like wantable, but let’s go a different route, shall we?  So I は her に (it) を want to give です.  There are really only two new pieces of information about Japanese here, I think.  One is that you can make the want to verb form by sticking tai on the stem of the verb instead of having to use something like want + infinitive as in English, and that です on the end of this sentence doesn’t really have a meaning.  It just makes the sentence less abrupt and, therefore, more polite.

So, how much new did we learn about Japanese from these sentences?  Were they a good addition to his original six sentences?  What do you think?




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