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Talking About Japanese Grammar Using the Christmas Story

Here I am again to talk about Japanese grammar. I do this, but I am by no means an expert. I can only tell know what I know. Yes, I studied, but I never felt like I had the chance to study enough. We have already done Matthew 1:18: イエスキリストの丹治陽の志田はこうであつた。(The birth of Jesus Christ was like this.) After that, it goes on to tell us that Joseph and Mary were engaged, and before (前に) they came together【いつしように】, Mary was found to be pregnant。Now, we are ready for verse 19.

この人たちのsひょがいは ムスカ氏でした。 (These people’s lives were difficult.) Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

verse 19: おつと ヨセフは ただし ひと で あつたので この じよの ことが おおやけに なる ことを ひと まだ ひそこに りえしようとけつしんした。

おつと -”man, male.” The letter in the middle should actually be smaller than the others, but I don’t know how to make my computer do that. The pronunciation is: “o-tto.” That つ, if it were not where it is, would be pronounced “tsu.” However, if it is small, it is not pronounced, but the next letter is doubled. Hence, と(to) becomes “tto.)  Remember that the vowels are like the vowels in the Latin languages, so the “o” is a long “o” in English.

ヨセフは-”Joseph.””Joseph” is actually written in katakana, and not hiragana. Foreign words are written in katakana. The first three letters are actually the name Joseph, but it pronounced differently in Japanese: yo-se-fu. After that, は is hiragana, and it is not part of the name. If it were a letter, it would be pronounced “ha,” but it is a post position particle that means that Joseph is the subject.

ただし- “correct” or “righteous.” The letters are hiragana, and they are pronounced: “ta-da-shi.” The “a’s” are like the “a” in father, and the “I” is pronounced “ee.”

ひと – “person.” This word is written in hiragana, but the computer keeps wanting to make it kanji. The kanji for this word is actually pretty easy: 人。The hiragana are pronounced “hito.” The kanji can be pronounced “hito” or “jin.” 日本人= Japanese person, and is pronounced “nihonjin.”  アメリカ人=American person, and is pronounced “amerikajin.”

であつたので - ”because he was.” あつた is a past tense verb. It is pronounced: “a-tta.” It is a form of ありました which means “was” or “were.” ので means “because” and is pronounced “no-de.”

ヨセフは正の人でした。(Joseph was a righteous man.)Photo by Amine M’Siouri on Pexels.com

Since we found a verb, let’s put this much of the sentence together because the verb signals an end to this part of the sentence. Putting it all together, it says, “Because Joseph was a righteous man.”

この じよの = “this woman’s.” この is pronounced “ko-no.” It means “this.” There is more than one “this” in Japanese. This is the form that needs a noun after it. If you want to just say “this” like “this is a book,” use これ (ko-re). This is a book = これはほんです。(Kore wa hon desu.) There is a noun after この (ko-no) just as there should be. The noun is じよ (ji-yo) which means “woman.” After じよ, you see の。の is the post position marker that is a possessive like our apostrophe “s” in English.

ことが – “thing” or “matter” with a post position particle that puts emphasis on it. こと is the part that means “thing” or “matter” and is pronounced “ko-to.” が is the post position particle that puts emphasis on the noun it comes after, and it is pronounced “ga.”

マリヤの ことのおおやでに似りました。(Mary’s circumstances became desperate.)Photo by João Jesus on Pexels.com

おおやけに- “really desperate.” おおきゅ actually means “emergency.” It is pronounced “o-o-kyu.” やけ (pronounced “yake”) actually means “desperate.” That おお from おおやく was put there to let the reader know just how much trouble Mary was in. The に (ni) is a post position particle that must me used before なります(narimasu.)

なる – “become.” This is なります. However, it is not conjugated and inside of a sentence. なりますis the form used at the end of the sentence, and なる (na-ru) is used inside of the sentence, but they mean the same thing.

ことを- “thing” or “matter” with a direct object post position particle after it. こと (ko-to) is the part that means “thing” or “matter,” and を (o) is the post position particle that signals a direct object is before it. If を were just a letter and not a post position particle, it is pronounced “wo,” and sometimes, people still pronounce it “wo” as the direct object particle.

ひと – “person.” This is the pronunciation that was next to the kanji (hi-to).

まず – “possibly.” This is pronounced “ma-zu.”

ひそがに- “quietly.” The pronunciation here is “hi-so-ga-ni.”

りえしようとしようとけっしんした。- “split up, divorced privately.” The word for “divorce” is actually ”りこんします” (rikon shimasu). The word for “privately” is しようと (shi-yo-u-to). You can see how things get meshed together in Japanese. The word for “split” is けっしんした (ge-sshi-n-shi-ta). It has that small つ before し (shi), so it doubles the “s.” けっしんした is the past tense form like 決心しました。(けっしんしました). In the first one, it is the same as the second one, but the computer took over and put a kanji here, and Iet it stay to show you what the kanji is for “split.” It is in past tense, and the one with-しました on the end is Tokyo dialect, the dialect they want all foreigner to learn that is considered very polite. The one that ends in -した is the past tense you will see in books. It is not as polite if you use it in speaking. This is the verb at the end of the sentence, and these are forms of the verb used at the end of the sentence.

Let’s put this part of the sentence together: ” Since this woman’s matter had become really desperate, he was going to divorce her and split from her away privately.”

離婚は悲しいです。(Divorce is sad.)Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

The whole verse together: Because Joseph was a righteous man, since this woman’s matter had become really desperate, he was going to divorce her and split from her privately.”

Marriage and engagements are different from country to country. For the Jews, the vows of being engaged were as strong as marriage vows, and you had to legally break them. In America, if you are engaged, it is not a legal thing. If you want to break up, you just give the ring back and leave. In Japan, the engagement period is more like for the Jews. It is not legal, but it is just as binding. Japanese engagements don’t break up. The Bible says that God hates divorce.

This verse actually shows what a good guy Joseph was. Can you imagine being engaged to a woman and finding out she was pregnant, but the baby isn’t yours? What a terrible thing for a young man and a young woman to go through. He still loved her because he wasn’t going to let her get hurt. It says her situation had become desperate. You must remember, in the time of Christ, the Jews were still stoning people who messed up, and Mary could have been stoned to death had Joseph made a public spectacle of her. She really was in really desperate circumstances. He didn’t want to marry a woman who had been unfaithful to him, but he also didn’t want to see her killed.

We want to think stoning no longer exists, but it does in some countries. I have some friends from Bangladesh, and they told me in their country, people can still get stoned. Most of the world thinks it is barbaric, but there are countries where it is still practiced. If you were born in a country where they don’t practice it, just be thankful to God and thankful to Christ that he came into the world to teach people how to love one another. Jesus doesn’t condone immorality, but he also doesn’t condone treating one another badly.

If you lived in a country where they threw rocks at you until you are dead if you are immoral, you better believe more people would be more moral. However, both the throwing of the rocks and the immorality is wrong.Photo by nicollazzi xiong on Pexels.com

There is a story where a woman was caught in adultery, and there was a group of men who were going to stone her to death. Jesus happened on them, and the men wanted him to join them. He said to them, “The one who is without sin can throw the first stone.” Every person there put their stone down and left. They all knew they had sinned. Just Jesus and the woman were left. Jesus told the woman, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t tell her just to go, but also to sin no more. He didn’t approve of her sin, but he gave her a chance to change.

Jesus came to earth to show us the way to God. Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

The Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin is what separates us from God. Jesus came to make a way for us to go back to God. Jesus show us the way. He never sinned, and he was killed for it. However, because he was faithful and did what God asked him to do, God raised him from the death on the third day. This is why the birth of Jesus is so important. He came especially so show us how to raise from the death and live with God forever like he is doing. We are human, and we sin, but his death on the cross paid for our sins, and he made a bridge back to God. All we have to do is walk over that bridge by doing what Jesus tells us to do. We need forgiveness, and others need forgiveness too.

Here are ten important things to remember in Japanese:

1. 人、and ひと mean “person.”

2. こと means “thing” or “matter.”

3.の is the possessive post position particle.

4. -した and しました are both past tense verbs that mean “did.”  They can be tacked onto the end of a noun to make the noun into a verb. The come from する (suru) which means “to do.” Simpe present tense and future tense are the same: しんます (shimasu.) Present progressive is しています(shite imasu) meaning “doing.”

5.を isthe post position particle that comes after direct objects, and it is pronounced “o” or “wo.”

6.この (ko-no) means “this” before a noun. If you just want the word “this” without a noun following it, say, ”これ” (ko-re).

7.あります- (arimasu) means “there is,” “there are,,” or “has or have.”  You can find it in the sentence written as ある(a-ru), “to be” or “to have.”  You can find the past tense in the sentence as: あった (a-tta). If you want to use the past tense at the end of the sentence, say ありました (arimashita).

8.です (desu) also means “is, am, or are,” but not “there is or there are.” If it is inside a sentence, you might just see で (de). At the end of the sentence, you will see です which means “is, am, are, or will be.” If you want to use past tense, say “でした” (deshita) at the end of a sentence.

9. は (wa) is the post position particle that points to a subject being before it.

10. が (ga) is the post position particle that puts emphasis on what it follow. It can come after the subject or the direct object.

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