Quick and ugly translation frenzy

The more free time I have, the less blogworthy my life becomes. Not that it was especially blogworthy in the first place, but now I pass my time by noticing that 私のハートは (watashi no haato wa, "My heart (TOPIC)") has the same length in Japanese as ストップモーション (sutoppu mooshon, "stop motion (COMMENT)", but not the Harryhausen type -- I think it just means "stops" in this case), in this awesome song from 1979:

Ah, my heart was stop-motiony
At the dazzlingness of meeting you [for the first time]
Ah, my heart was stop-motiony
I can't just walk on by
Without even knocking, love burst in
I'm not going to let you go

I especially like the "heart stops"/"without knocking" thing, which kind of makes two cliched ideas fresh. Kudos to you, RYUU Machiko.

I have also decided to read all the way through NATSUME Souseki's 『我輩は猫である』 (usually translated "I Am A Cat", but closer to something more pompous like "I, gentlemen, am a cat"). Souseki originally intended it to only be a once-off thing, so I read chapter 1 and called it a day last year, but I've got plenty of free time now.

I've noticed that -kutte was apparently used quite a lot by classy lady cats in the early 1900s. Mikeko says things like:

  • 「あら御師匠さんが呼んでいらっしゃるから、私し帰るわ、よくって?」
    "Oh, my master [a music teacher] is calling me. I'll be off -- if you don't mind?" [politeness, not sarcasm or genuine permission-seeking]

    Here the よくって seems to be something like modern よかったら.

  • 「あなた大変色が悪くってよ。どうかしやしなくって」
    "You look terrible. You must do something [for your health]."

    There are two kuttes here. The first one is a form which has, I think, survived into modern times, although I see just plain -kute yo more often, and I actually associate it more with tough-guy male talk -- so maybe it's a different form after all. The second one is attached to a verb instead of an adjective and is apparently equivalent to modern -[na]kute wa ikenai or (abbreviated) -[na]ku[c]cha

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I bet you feel bad now for giving away that banjo and that 4-track. You could be writing awesome banjo-based traditional Japanese music with lyrics about various linguistic topics.


What do you think of analyzing it as "[na]ku" + "tte" instead? The "ku" being here the "te"-less continuative form. I've seen it before, and it reminds me of the pattern "やったっていいじゃない” "so what if you did it? (who cares?)", which by analogy produces sentences like "金なくたっていいじゃない" in the negative, despite the unsettling weirdness of the extra "ta" in なくた.

In which case the "よくって?" would mean like ”何々がよく(て)...っていうの?” It could help soften the quoted phrase in the same sort of way Japanese people prefer to say 何々じゃなくて...rather than 何々じゃない.

Maybe...not to confident about it yet.


With all that free time, you could surf the net for interesting Japanese sites to blog about...


Eric: Actually I still have another banjo, although it's at a friend's house. I do wish I'd kept the 4-track. Dammit.

GB: I have the time, but not the internet connection! O, cruel fate. Unless you know of any handy wifi hotspots in the Meguro area.

Elessorn: oh, that's interesting. Yeah, I guess it makes sense to analyse it as -ku + tte since those are the component pieces. It would also mean that in the first example Mikeko was trying to soften a "yoi?", huh? I can see that. That works for the "warui" too. Only the verb stands out. Maybe it was kind of an all-purpose sentence ender, exact meaning dependent on context..


Well, think about it though- "nai" may be a verbal ending, but it works like an adjective in form--"naku naru", "nakatta", "nakute" and so on. So I think the theory would still hold. I think the verbal parallel would be "-tta tte", like in the examples above. The non-symmetry of verbs in past, adjectives in present, also has a parallel in the "hou ga ii" pattern.

I'm not certain about it, but it would be neat if this were the case, since it might mean that the "ta" in "warukutatte ii jan" is a very recent analogical change. I should just remember to ask at work, though, really.

Good luck with finding a job, by the way. I'll be where you are in another year, and I'd like to believe it's possible to find a job outside the private ALT market, too.


Oh, right, I just mean that it stands out because you have to have something after the "shina[i]", whether it's "to (ikenai)" or "-kereba (naranai)" or "-teha (ikenai)" etc. That would mean that the "-tte" is doing the job of those extra verbs.. although now that I think of it "-cha" isn't really that much more meaningful than "-tte", so it doesn't stand out so much after all.

Re the job -- I have one, I just don't have the visa to do it! So my advice would be to find and get a commitment from your new employer early, so you can start the visa change process early.. preferably months early.

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