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Explaining Japanese Grammar in the Christmas Story, Verse 21 日本語

Yes, I am back again to explain Japanese grammar. I have struggled with my Japanese Bible because it is so small. I think I need to buy a magnifying glass. When I work with my Japanese Bible, I have to make sure I have very good lighting. On top of that, my kanji is terrible. That means that I have to rely on the hiragana written next to many of the words. Since my Bible is small to start with, that hiragana is so small I often misread what is there and have to keep looking back. I use a notebook and copy the verse onto a notebook in hiragana first trying to get all the letters is a shape where I can read them. It is like decoding something. If I recognize a kanji, in my notebook, I write the hiragana, and I write the meaning I know in English next to it. It seems to be quite a process for me just to understand one verse in Japanese. As many people have said, Japanese conversation isn’t that hard, but the reading is a killer. I have almost given up, but I have decided maybe the thing that will help me is to go to the store and buy a magnifying glass, so I plan to. I have a Japanese son in law, and I know he would be very disappointed if I gave Japanese up because he loves to have conversations with me in Japanese. I also have two half Japanese grandkids now who are babies, but they live in Japan, and their dad stays with them all day while my daughter works as a lawyer for the NCIS, so they are going to speak Japanese very well, much better than I do. My Japanese son in law is not just a house husband. He is a house husband, but also stays home and makes investments.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Okay, now lets talk about the Christmas (キリスマス) story. Today, I am going to talk about verse 21 of Matthew (マタイによる福音書)the first chapter. I have tried to get the kanji for numbers on my computer, but I just have no luck. I am not sure why, but the kanji for 21 is very easy. It looks like three hyphens in a row.

Verse 21: かのじよは 男の子を むで あろう。その 名を イエス と 名つ”けなさい。かれは おのれ の 民を その もろもろの つみ から すくう もの と なる から で ある。

天使ははしています。(tenshi wa hanashi te imasu) (The angel was speaking.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

かのじよは – ” She.” かのじよ (kanojiyo) actually means “she,” and the ”よ” part actually had the kanji for “woman”: 女.The は means that this is the subject. Usually, は is pronounced “ha,” but when it comes after the subject, it is a post position article or particle that is pronounced “wa.”

男の子 でした。(It was a boy!)Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

男の子 – “man child.” 男 is a kanji that is pronounced “otoko” which means “man.”  の (pronounced “no”) is a post position particle that makes either a possessive or makes the word before it an adjective, so 男 (otoko) is an adjective here. 子 (pronounced: “ko”) means “child,” and you often see this on the end of a girl’s name in Japan.

を – This is a post position particle that comes after “man child,” so “man child” is the direct object, and を is pronounced “o” or “wo.”

むであろう。- ” will be or will have” This is a “to be” verb (ある) put into future tense. It is pronounced: mude-aro-u. This is the last verb of that sentence which means that it is the end of the sentence. Usually, don’t worry about future tense in Japanese. If you learn this form: あります(arimasu), this can be used for both simple present tense and future tense, and it is Tokyo dialect, the dialect that can be understood all over Japan. It means “there is,” “there are,” “it is,” “are,” “have,” “has,” “will be,” “will have.”

(I used the kanjis for “woman” (女) and “man” (男) here because they are important kanjis to know if you go to Japan. You will be able to tells which bathroom is form women, and which one is for men.

Let’s put this sentence together: “She will have a boy child.”

その – “that.” This is a special “that” used only before a noun. If you don’t have a noun, use それ (so-re). その is pronounced “sono.”

名 – “name.” This is a kanji pronounced “na.” It is an important kanji to know because if you go to Japan, you will have to fill out forms, and if you see this, you know they want your name.

を – Again, this is pronounced “o” or “wo,” and it is the post position particle used after the direct object. That means that 名 is the direct object.

日本に 行くのとき この言葉を要ります。(nippon ni iku no toki kono kotoba wo irimasu.) (When you go to Japan, you need these words.)Photo by Yuliya Strizhkina (Cartier) on Pexels.com

(By the way, to ask someone’s name, say, “あなたの名前はなんですか?” (Anata no nama-e wa nan desuka?) Then to tell them you name, say 私の名前は (your name) です。(watashino nama-e wa (your name) desu.)

イエス (Jesus)Photo by Juhasz Imre on Pexels.com

イエスと- “Jesus.” イエス (ee-e-su) means “Jesus.” と (to, with a long “o”) is kind of like a quotation mark.

名つ”けなさい。- “please name.” This is the request form of the verb. It is pronounced “nazukenasai.” The request part is the “なさい。” This is the last verb of the sentence, and it means this sentence has come to an end.

Let’s put this sentence together: “Name him that name: “Jesus.”

かれは – “he.” かれ is pronounced “ka-re.” かれ means “he.” は is pronounced “wa” here because it is used as a post position particle meaning that かれ is the subject. Just as a letter, は is pronounced “ha.”

おのれのたみ – ” own people.” おのれ (ono-re) means “one’s self.” の (no) is possessive, and if you put おのれの all together, it becomes “own.” たみ (tami) means “people。”

イエスは私たちの罪ですからしんだ (iesu wa watashitachino tsumi desukara shinda) (Jesus dies because of our sins.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

もろもろのつみ – “many sins.” もろもろの (moromorono) means “all kinds of.” つみ (tsumi) means “sin.”

から – “because of” or “from.” から is pronounced “kara,” and it always comes after the thing is its referring to.

おくう – “take care of” or “save.” This is pronounced “oku-u.”

ものと – “thing.” もの (mono) means “thing.” と (to, with a long “o”) is a kind of quotation mark.

なるから – “because becomes or will become” or “from becomes or will become.” なる (naru) means “to become.” から (kara) means “because” or “from.”

で – this is a post position particle that can mean many things. It can mean: at, in, on, because of, using, or from.

ある – “to be,” “is,” “are,” “there is,” “there are,” “have,” or “has.” If you are speaking, you don’t want to use this at the end of the sentence. Use あります (arimasu) which is Tokyo dialect for the same word, and considered more polite. It is okay to use ある in a book.

Let’s put this sentence all together: “Because he is to become the one who will save his people from their many sins.”

Flip the sentence over to change it from English to Japanese.Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You just have to sort through it to find the meaning if you want to say it in English. Remember that Japanese sentences begin with the subject and end with the main verb. However, there may be clauses inside of the sentence, and they have to be recognized too. Everything in a Japanese sentence comes between the subject and the main verb, where unlike in English, we begin with the subject and the main verb. You have to get used to things coming after instead of before. For example, if you want to say “I will do it because I am American,” it might come out something like this: 私は アメリカ人 ですから します。(watashi wa amerikajin desukara shimasu.) If you look, the sentence structure is completely flopped around from English to Japanese. In English, we end with “because I am American,” but in Japanese, they begin with the same clause, and they put から at the end to signify “because.” The Japanese sentence ends with します (shimasu) which means “do,” “does,” or “will do.” You just have to learn to wrap your brain around another way. As for me, I learned to forget that I know English when I speak Japanese because if I try to translate from English to Japanese in my head, it is just too hard. I put my Japanese disk in my head when I speak Japanese. If I didn’t I would get confused. My Japanese teacher did me a great favor because she gave me lots of Japanese sentences to copy in hiragana. She said just copy, copy, and copy, and say it out loud until you can begin making your own sentences. She was teaching me like a baby. A baby listens, and listens, and listens, and they copy what we say, and eventually, they are speaking. That is how we learn our first language, and that is how my Japanese teacher taught me. She also spoke those sentences to me, asked me questions, and made me answer in Japanese using those sentences I was copying. You have to program you brain if you want to speak Japanese. Many people make the mistake of just studying kanji, but never learn to speak. Kanji is for after you learn to speak.


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