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Talking About Japanese Grammar Using the Christmas Story, Part 2

After I finished my blog yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t given you all of verse 18 of Matthew chapter 1. I only gave you the first sentence. Today, I will finish the whole verse. Since I don’t know who can read Japanese letters and who can’t, it seems there is a lot more explaining to do with this kind of a blog. It is also much more complicated for me because I read in Japanese, but not well. It takes a lot of work for me to make sure that what I think I see is right. When I was studying Japanese, I had Japanese friends who liked to correct my homework for me and explain what I did wrong. When I was teaching Japanese, my Japanese son in law was my helper. He and I modeled Japanese conversations in front of the class, and when they turned in homework, he graded it, and it was fine with me because I knew he could do better than I could. My Japanese son in law has always been fascinated with me speaking Japanese, and when I was in Japan, all the Japanese loved to hear me having a Japanese conversation and pushed me to do more, but I have always felt an inadequacy because I was never able to study as long as I wanted to in Japan. I appreciate all the encouragement the Japanese have given me.

Now, let’s get to the second part of verse 18 of Matthew chapter one, the story of the birth of Jesus. Yesterday, I gave you this much of the verse:イエス クリスト のたんじようのしだいは こうで あつた。(The birth of Jesus was like this.)

イエスキリストのたんじよび (the birth of Jesus) Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Here is the continuation of the verse:  母マリヤはヨセフと 紺ゃくしてくしてついたが またいつしよに ならない まえいつ市世にならないまえにせいれいによつてみむもになつた。

母-”mother.” This is pronounced “haha.” This is a kanji. I kept putting the hiragana into my computer because the hiragana has the pronunciation, but my computer refused to give me hiragana on this. Actually, using the Japanese program on my computer is very difficult because it is often uncooperative and tries to read my mind and gets it wrong. I was thankful that if it insisted on changing this to kanji, it is the right kanji for “haha,” mother.

マリヤ・母 (Mary, the mother) Photo by Jou00e3o Jesus on Pexels.com

マリヤー”Maria.” This name is written in katakana because it is not a Japanese word.

は -”wa.”  this is written in hiragana.  It is a post position particle that comes after the subject.  If it were used as a letter instead of the post position particle or article, it would be pronounced “ha,” but since it is after “Maria,” we know that “Maria” is the subject, and “は” is pronounced “wa” and pointing to “Maria” as the subject.

ヨセフ ―”Joseph.”  This is also written in katakana because “Joseph” is not a Japanese name. The Japanese pronuncian is actually “Yosefu.”

と ―”and.” This is written in hiragana. It is pronounced like the word “toe.”As you can see, it is not exactly placed where our “and” would be placed.  We would put “and” between “Joseph” and “Mary,” but they put a post position particle meaning Mary is the subject after Mary, and then after Joseph, they put “and” to tell you that he is added to Mary.

紺ゃくしてついた (betrothed) Photo by Maria Lindsey Multimedia Creator on Pexels.com

紺やくしてついた。- “betrothed.” This word is in kanji and hiragana. It is written that way in the Bible with the hiragana next to it so you will know the pronunciation if you aren’t good at kanji which I am not. I tried really hard to give it to you all in hiragana, but my computer refused. The kanji you see is pronounced” kon.” The whole word is pronounced “Konyaku shite iita.” The “knonyaku” part is a noun that means “a betrothal.” The “shite iita” part comes from “suru” which means “to do.” You can take Japanese nouns and put “suru” on the end of them to make them into a verb. “Suru,” here, is in the “te” form: shite. You can do a lot of different things with this “te” form. If you say “shite kudasai,” it means “please do it.” If you say “shite imasu,” it means “I am doing it,” “he is going it,” “you are doing it,” etc. You just have to put in the pronoun in English because it is left out in Japanese, and you have to guess from context who they are talking about. In this case, “shite” has the ending of “iita.” If you can read hiragana, you can see there is aつ”tsu” before the  い”I.” That 津 before the い makes the い doubled.  The ending itself “iita” makes this a past tense verb, and the level that is used is only used in books. If I were to say, “I was doing it,” it would be the same meaning and grammar, but when I speak, I would say, “して他。”(Shite imashita.) Again, the subject is from context, and in this context, “Mary and Joseph” is the subject.

まだ – “not yet.” This is pronounced “ma-da.”

いつしよにー ”together.” This is pronounced “isshyoni.” Again, that つ (tsu) actually has no pronunciation here, and should be smaller than the other hiragana, but I don’t know how to make it smaller on my computer. When it looks like a つ is randomly placed like that, it means the next letter it doubled. The next letter is し, which is pronounced “shi.” The “s” in “shi” much be doubled. After that, you have よ (yo) which is also ususally small here. It is still pronounced “yo,” but it is pronounced in conjunction with the し as “shyo.” The last letter is “ni.”

ならない – “doesn’t become.”  This comes from なる (naru) (to become). なります which is pronounced “narimasu” means ” become, becomes, or will become.”  That に on the end of いつしよに is tacked on because before なる you always have to have に。ならない is the negative form of なる that comes in the middle of a sentence.  If you use it at the end of a sentence, they will understand, but it will be considered rude. If you want to say “doesn’t become at the end of a sentence, say なりません。(narimasen.)

まえに – “before.” This is pronounced “ma-e-ni.”

せいれいによつた (pregnant) にんしんしています (ninshinshite imasu) (a more common way to say “she is pregnant)Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

せいれいによつて - “prengnant.”

みむもに なつた。‐”was found.”   If you look in the Bible, the kanji for み (mi) here is the kanji that means “look or see.” 見つける (mi-tsu-ke-ru) means “to discover,” so that is where 未無も (mimumo) came from.  You can see the kanji in the word “mitsukeru” that means “look or see.”  It can also mean “eye.”  That に (ni) is there again because なつた (na-tta) is another form of past tense for なりました (narimashita) which means “became.”  なつた is the form used only in books or in a sentence. It is much more polite when you are speaking to say なりました。

There are two sentences here, and you must remember that in Japanese, the sentences begin with the subject, and the main verb is the last thing in the sentence. For the first sentence, “Mary and Joseph” is the subject, and the main verb is “betrothed.” In the next sentence, it doesn’t give us the subject, and we have to guess at what it is. Since the sentence before was about Mary and Joseph, so probably, they are also the subject of the second sentence, but just the first part with the verb of that part of the sentence as “become together”. The subject of the second part of the sentence must be Mary because Joseph can’t be pregnant. The main predicate (the whole verb) of the second sentence is “was found to be pregnant.”

Let’s put this all together:Mary and Joseph were betrothed. They hadn’t come together yet, and she was found to be pregnant.

The Japanese call these kani, and the Koreans call them hanmoon. //Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

There you have it, the first verse of the story, verse 18 of Matthew 1, is finished. I guess you can see where it can get complicated. The grammar is a lot like Korean. The writing is even harder because the Japanese are still using kanji, the pictographs, but the Koreans have given the pictographs up, except the scholars. The Korean scholars say they can get more out of a text by using the pictographs. The Koreans call them hanmoon, and the Japanese call them kanji. The Japanese refuse to give them up because they want to know every detail of what is written there. The Koreans just want to learn to read and be done with it. The Japanese spend all their time in school studying those kanji and taking tests all the way through, even in high school. I asked my Japanese teacher what it would take for me to read the Japanese newspaper, and she said, “Twelve years of study in Japan.” She considered it impossible to read that newspaper unless I put my time in that I just didn’t have to put in. However, I have discovered books that have the hiragana written next to the kanji, and it enables me to read them, if I can get past the complicated grammar. I will continue explaining the Japanese grammar as long as I can figure it out.

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