Explaining Japanese Grammar in the Christmas Story, Verse 22 of the First Chapter of Matthew 日本語

It seems when I explain Japanese grammar, the blogs come out intermittent with only one verse at a time. I can carry on a conversation in Japanese, but the Japanese people who see my blog can tell you that Japanese is not my best foreign language. I have really found the kanji a block in trying to improve. However, God has given me the gift of gab, and I have been known to use it in Japanese. When I taught Japanese at the second university where I taught it, my Japanese son in law was my helper, and he insisted on grading all the homework, and I was glad. I know he could help the students on the written page much better than I could, but I could teach them to carry on basic conversations, and I did. The Japanese students gave a party and invited all the American students who were studying Japanese. They decided to test the Americans in their Japanese abilities. They placed several Japanese around a table and took the students around the table one at a time letting the Japanese ask the American students anything they wanted in Japanese, and the Japanese students were very impressed and pleased because my students could answer all their questions. I had a good teacher, and I just did for them what she did for me. You can learn to carry on a conversation in Japanese without learning the kanji.

However, I still try to learn to read, and one of the ways I have always tried to improve my foreign language skills is by studying the Bible in the foreign language. If I get completely stuck, I can always look at the English, and it helps me figure out what I didn’t understand in the foreign language, and I learn from it. It is very convenient that the Bible is written in so many languages. Let’s continue the Christmas story now from Matthew 1:22.

マタイによる福音書 1:22: すべて これらの こどが おこったのは、しゆが 

よげんしやに よって  言われたことの じよじゆ する ため である。すなわち

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

マタイによる福音書 ‐”the Gospel of Matthew.”  マタイ(ma-ta-i) means “Mathew” in katakana. による (ni-yo-ru) means “according to” or “by.” 福音書 (ふくいんしよ)(fukuinshiyo) is kanji and means “gospel.”

すべて – “all” or “everything.” It is pronounced” su-be-te.

これらの – “these.”  It is pronounced (ko-re-ra-no).  If you said “これ” (ko-re), it would only be “this.” And, both これ and これら、they are in the form that it doesn’t need a noun after it。However, with の after either one of them, you need a noun after it. この means “this,” and needs a noun after it. これらの is “these” and needs a noun after it.

こと – “thing” or “things.” Japanese is not always specific about how many. This is “things” because これらの means “these.”

が – This is a post position particle that puts emphasis on これらのこと (these things). It can be used either for the subject post position particle or the object post position particle. In this case, it means こと(things) is the subject.

おこった – “happened” or “took place.” おこった (o-ko-tta) is the past tense of the verb with the form that is used inside the sentence for おこる (o-ko-ru) which means “to happen” or “to take place.”

天使は ヨセフへ はなしました。(An angel talked to Joseph.)Photo by SHAHBAZ AKRAM on Pexels.com

のは – This means that the clause すべて これの ことが おこった (all these things happened) is a subject clause.

じゆ が – “the Lord.” じゆ (ji-yu) means “Lord.” が (ga) is the post position particle or article that puts emphasis on じゆ. Since it puts emphasis on (ji-yu), it can be translated at “the.”

じゆは よげんしやはで たくさん ねんのまえに はなしました。(The Lord spoke many years ago through the prophets.) Photo by Aa Dil on Pexels.com

よげんしやに よって- “by prophecy.” よげん (yo-gen) alone means
“prediction.” しや (shi-ya) means “view” or “vision.” If you put the two words together, they become “prophecy.” に (ni) is a post position particle that means “to,” “at” “by,” “for” “from” “in” or “per.” If you tag よって (yo-tte)means “by” or “through.”

言われたこと -”what was said.” 言われた (I-wa-re-ta) means “was said.” 言is a kanji for the verb “います。” (imasu) which means “say.” われた (wareta) is a verb ending that makes it passive voice and past tense inside of a sentence. こと (ko-to) means “thing.”  In this case, it makes it into a relative clause in English and actually translated as the relative pronoun “what” or can be translated “the thing that was said.”

じよじゆするため – “In order to mention these things.” じよじゆ する (ji-yo-ji-yu su-ru) means “to mention.” When you see する on the end, you know it is a verb, and it is in the infinitive form. If you have only する、it means “to do.” If you use this verb form at the end of a sentence when you are speaking, it is rude, so if you are speaking and want to say “do,” “does,” or “will do,” say します。(shi-ma-su) at the end of the sentence. However, this verb is not at the end of the sentence because ため (ta-me) comes after it which means “in order to.”

である - ”was.”  Don’t use this at the end of the sentence when you are speaking, but it is used at the end of the sentence in a book, and it is okay. If you want to say “was” at the end of the sentence, say でした (deshita) meansing only “was” or “were,” or ありました (a-ri-ma-shi-ta) meaning “there was,” “there were,” or “had,” or if you are talking about a person, いました (I-ma-shi-ta)。

すなわち – “especially” or “i.e.” すなわち (su-na-wa-chi) is written here because the next verse tells what the prophecy is, and we will do that verse next time.

Let’s put this all together: “All these things fulfilled what the Lord said through a prophecy, i.e…….”

えいごをはなすのひとのために にほんごの どくしは むすかしです。(Japanese’reading is hard for English speakers.)Photo by meo on Pexels.com

As usual, it was complicated to try to get through it. Japanese conversation is much easier than trying to read the Bible. I have actually heard lots of foreigners in Japan say that Japanese conversation isn’t that hard, and they are right. It is the writing that is hard. I have the hiragana next to the kanji in my Bible, so I usually put most hiragana when I write these verses out. However, even if you have the hiragana, the constructions within the sentence are so different from English and seem so convoluted that it also makes it complicated to try to understand. I used to think that I spoke Japanese better than Korean, but as time has gone on, because I can read Korean easier, I have begun to wonder if I do Korean better than Japanese. It also helps that I have a Korean expert in my house if I have a question. My daughter is so good at Korean that she can teach Korean grammar to her husband who is a Korean, so speaks Korean as his first language.

It took a long time for them to talk me into teaching Japanese.Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

The first time I was asked to teach Japanese, it took them two years to talk me into it. I knew I could carry on conversations, but I didn’t feel qualified to teach it even though I had studied it at the university in Japan. I have learned, though, that Japanese is one of those languages that is never going to leave my life. Even when I wasn’t teaching Japanese, there were Japanese students at the university who needed me to speak to them in Japanese. Sometimes I wonder if my Korean has become better than my Japanese even though I spoke Japanese first. I struggled in Korea because Koreans love English so much they made it difficult to learn Korean conversation. Even if they knew only one phrase in English, if I spoke to them in Korean, they loved to reply in English. The Japanese aren’t like that. The Japanese really want foreigners to speak Japanese. I had friends in Japan who could speak English, but refused to speak it to me because it was easier to lean on my Japanese. Initially, it was a bother, but I appreciated it because it was good for me. My Japanese teacher spoke no English, and she loved to talk my ear off because I was the only foreign student at the university who learned to speak Japanese. My Japanese may not be perfect, but the Japanese usually like it.

Here are some good grammatical principles to take away from today’s reading that will make your vocabulary bigger:

する (su-ru) – “to do.”  If you don’t know this verb, it will be one of the most useful verbs you will learn. It will stretch your verb knowledge. If you know a noun, you can put する on the end of it and can change it into a noun. Here are some examples:

べんきょ (benkyo) is the noun for “study.” To make it into a verb, tack する to the end of it.

はつおん (hatsu-on) is the noun for “pronunciation.” to change it into “to pronounce.” tack する on the end: はつおん する (hatsuonsuru).

しつもn (shitsumon) means “question.” If you want to say “to ask,” say, “しつもん する” (shitsumon suru).

する means “to do.”  します (shimasu) means “do,does, or will do.”  して ください (shite kudasai) means “please do.” して います (shite-imasu) means “doing.”しました (shimashita) means “did.” Tack any of these on the nouns, and it makes them verbs.

もの (mo-no) means “thing,” but knowing this word can really increase your vocabulary because you can use a verb and make it into a noun with this.

たべる (taberu) means “to eat.” たべます (tabemasu) means “eat, eats, or will eat.” たべもの (tabemono) means “food” or “eating thing.”

のむ (nomu) means “to drink.” のみます(nomimasu) means “drink, drinks, or will drink.” のみもの (nominomo) means “a drink” or “drinking thing.”

わする (wasuru) means “to forget” or “to lose.” わすります (wasurimasu) means “forget, forgets, will forget, lose, loses, will lose.” わすれもの (wasuremono) means “the thing that was lost,” or “the thing that was forgotten” or “what was lost” or “what was forgotten” with “what being a relative pronoun, and わすれもの a relative clause.

はしります– (hashirimasu) means “run, runs, or will run.” はしれもの (hashiremono) means “a runner” or “the thing that runs.”

I hope this helps you understand that Japanese conversation can be easier than writing and reading in Japanese.

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