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

When I began these Japanese blogs about the Bible, I was really unsure because of the kanji. However, it seems I know a lot of the kanji that is in the Bible, and decoding the Japanese is getting easier. I have enough Japanese grammar and Japanese vocabulary to circumvent any problems the kanji presents me because of the hiragana next to the kanji, and I also know some of the kanji. To prepare for these blogs, I get out my Japanese Bible and write the verse down in hiragana to make sure I know everything that is there. If I run into any words I don’t know, I can look them up in a dictionary, and so far I haven’t had to look that much up, but I am not all knowledgeable, and I do look things up. However, I have to know the grammar too. My Japanese teacher did a fantastic job teaching me grammar. However, there are some tenses she didn’t teach me, but I have heard Japanese people use some of the grammar that I encounter in the Bible, and I struggled in the beginning to figure out what they were saying because they don’t always use the conjugations my Japanese teacher taught me. I knew when I began studying Korean that knowing Japanese grammar helped me with Korean, but I am realizing now that Korean grammar also helps me with Japanese grammar. I know several Koreans who speak Japanese because it is one of the languages that is easier for Koreans to learn and several Korean high schools teach Japanese. Many Koreans like to go on vacation in Japan because it is close and because their language is easier for Koreans to understand. I hope talking about the grammar in these verses helps your Japanese too.

There were about forty different men who lived at different times in different places who wrote the books in the Bible, and these books were collected and put into one book we call “the Bible.”Photo by Aa Dil on Pexels.com

We are on verse 23 of Matthew chapter 1. The angel had just appeared to Joseph to tell him to go ahead and marry Mary, and Matthew just explained that a prophet from the Old Testament predicted what was happening. The prediction comes from Isaiah 7:14. It is word for word what Matthew wrote in the 23rd verse of the first chapter of Matthew. Isaiah was written in 740 B.C. Matthew wrote this book about the life of Christ somewhere between 50-70 A. D. There are over one hundred predictions like this in the Old Testament about Jesus that came true in the New Testament. You see the Bible was not originally one book, but it was written by about forty different men who lived in different times in different places. Most of them didn’t know one another, but they came up with a cohesive story when the books were all put together in one big book. It is amazing that so many prophecies came true that were written so many years before Jesus’ birth and that all the men who wrote the different books in the Bible came up with a cohesive story since the majority of them didn’t know one another or even know the other existed when they were writing. The hand of God can easily be seen in the creation of the Bible just as the hand of God was on this prophecy that was fulfilled in the birth of Christ.

マタイによる福音書 1:23– ”見よ、乙女が みごもって 男の子を 生むであろう。“  その名は イマヌエル と ばれので あろう。これは、”神 われらと ともにいます。” という いみで ある。

I explained in my last Japanese blog that マタイによる福音書 means “the gospel according to Matthew.” If you want to know the specifics, you can look back at my last Japanese grammar blog.

見よ、= “Behold.” 見 is a kanji pronounced ”mi.”  Any time you see that kanji, you know it has to do with seeing. 見る(みる)(miru) is how to say “to see” in Japanese. 見ます(みます)(mimasu) is the basic simple present tense and future form of this verb that you will see at the end of sentences.

よげんしやはたくさん都市の前にマリヤについて わかれました。(The prophets knew many years before about Mary.)Photo by Laura Garcia on Pexels.com

乙女=”maiden.” おとめ (otome) is the pronunciation for this kanji. In previous Japanese blogs, I taught you that the kanji for woman which is女. This shows you how kanji works. The way to say “woman” in Japanese is おおな (onna) . The meaning is in 女. but not the pronunciation.

が – This is the post position article or particle that tells you two things: 1) 乙女(otome) is the subject. 2) The author is putting emphasis on 乙女。が is pronounced “ga.”

みごもって = “is pregnant.” みごもる (migomoru) means “to get pregnant.” みごもって (migomotte)is the て (te) form of みごむる (migomoru)。 The て (te) form can be used for many things. If you put ください (kudasai) after it, it is the request form. If you put います (imasu) after the て (te) form, it becomes the present tense continuous form. However, this one has no ending like one of those, and that just usually means this verb is being used inside of the sentence. I think it is important to say that a word in Japanese for “wonderful” in Japanese is みごと (migoto), and the way to say “have or has” is もちます (mochimasu)、and the て (te) form of もちます(mochimasu) its もって. (motte).

よげんしやじゃは あかちゃんのたんじようもにつてわかりました。(The prophets also knew about the birth of the baby.)Photo by kelvin octa on Pexels.com

男の子 = “boy.” 男の子 is pronounced おとこのこ (otokonoko). 男 (otoko) is actually the kanji for “man.” の(no) means that 男 (otoko) is an adjective, and 子 (ko) means “child.”

を is the post position particle that means that 男の子 (otokonoko) is the direct object. を is pronounced “wo” or “o.”

生むであろう。= “will give birth.” 生 (う)(u) is the kanji for “life.” Whenever you see that kanji anywhere, the word is related to “life,” and the kanji carried the meaning of “life.” The verb for “to be born” is うまれる (umareru), and “to give birth” is うむ (umu). であろう (de-a-ro) means “it would be.” It is important to say there that in Japanese, it is considered polite to use a conditional mode.  If they speak too directly and too confidently, they are considered rude. で あろう (aro-u) comes from である (aru) which means “to be.” であろう(de-aro-u) is in the future conditional mode. Basically, putting all this together means that うむであろう (umudearo) ends up as “will give birth.” This is the main verb of the sentence because it comes last.  

Let’s put this sentence together: “Behold, a maiden is pregnant, and will give birth to a boy.”

その名は= “that name.” その (sono) means “that” before a noun. 名 (な)(na) means “name.”  Okay, there is the noun. は is the post position article or particle, and because it is, it is pronounced “wa.” This post position article or particle tells you そのな (sono na) is the subject of the sentence.

イマヌエル = “Immanuel.” This is a foreign name in Japanese, so katakana is used. イマヌエル is pronounced (imanu-eru). Remember, those vowels are pronounced like Portuguese or Spanish vowels. With English vowels, it would be pronounced “ee-mahn-oo-eh-roo).

と is a post position particle written in Romaji as “to,” but we pronounce it in English like our word “toe.” If something is said or thought, you put this after what was said or thought, and then you say “said” or “thought.” It is almost like quotation marks.

ばれのであろう。= “it will bear.”  However, it is still in the future conditional mode and could be translated at “it might bear,” but in English, it is not rude to be straight forth like it is in Japanese. In Japanese, this actually carried “would” or “maybe” instead of “will,” but it is a cultural idiosyncrasy that we don’t have in English. In fact, if you wrote this on your paper for a professor of English as a conditional trying to be polite like the Japanese, the professor would mark it wrong because we are supposed to be straight forward and confident with we write in English. It is part of our culture. ばれのであろう is pronounced (barede-aro-u). Remember to use the Portuguese or Spanish pronunciation on the vowels. This is the last verb in this sentence which means it is the main verb of the sentence. Remember, verbs always come last in Japanese.

イエスは神様 われと ともにいます。(Jesus is “God with us.”)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let’s put this sentence together: “He will bear this name: Immanuel.”

これは = “This.” This is the form of “this” that is not used before a noun. This is a pronoun that is the subject. これ(ko-re) means “this,” and は(ha) is the post position particle or article that makes “this” the subject. In the Japanese Bible, there were lines next that separated the next clause from this subject that were like quotation marks. However, they look a bit more like an upside down capital English “L” kind of laying on its side. That means what comes next is separate from this subject.

日本人は いつも 神様と います。
(The Japanese usually say “Kami sama.) 神様のいみはしゅかみとである。(”Kami sama” means “Lord God.”)Photo by istlife on Pexels.com

神 = “God.” 神(かみ)(kami) is the kanji for “God.”

われらと = “with us.” You have probably learned that わたしは(watashi wa) means “I,” and that わたしたちは (watashitachi wa) means “we.” There is an old form of “we” that is said われわれは (wareware wa). If you take that は (wa) off of these words, わたしと (watashi to) means “with me.”  わたしたちと (watashitachi to) means “with us.” And, われらと (warera to) becomes the old form of “with us.” That と (to) is a post position particle that means “with.”

ともにいます。- “is together” or “is with.” ともにいます is pronounced “tomoni-imasu.” とも(tomo) alone actually means “both.” い(I) as a post position particle kind of points the verb toward the noun いcomes after.  います (imasu) is the “masu” form of “iru” which means “to be,” and it is only used for a person, not for inanimate objects. います is in simple present tense here, so it means that this is for everyday, all the time. This is the last verb inside the quotation marks. In the Japanese Bible, we get another mark that looks like an English “L” laying on the bottom of the like on its side after this. This means that this is the end of what is inside of the quotation marks.

という (to-I-u) can mean “named,” “called,” or even “that is.” it is not the regular word used for “that.” This is referring to the name “Immanuel.”

じしよへ いみを みつけだす ことが できます。(You can find the meaning in a dictionary.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

いみ = “meaning.” いみ is pronounced “i-mi.”

である。= “it is.” である is pronounced “de-aru.” This is the last verb of the sentence which means it is the main verb of the sentence, and it is paired with the subject of the whole sentence: これこは (kore wa) which means “this.”

かれの なまえは イマヌエルが あります。(His name is Immanuel.)かれのなまえはイエスキリストデス。(His name is Jesus the Christ.) かれは かみ わたちたちと います。(He is God with us.)Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com 

Let’s put this sentence together: “This name’s meaning is, “God is with us.”

Let’s put the whole verse together: “Behold, a maiden is pregnant and will give birth to a boy. He will bear the name Immanuel. This name’s meaning is, “God with us.”

With one blog, we accomplished a lot. We only threw one stone. Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

There you have it. Stay with me because as your Japanese gets better, mine does too, and on top of it, you are getting Bible. We are killing several birds with one stone. If you aren’t a native English speaker, this is a saying in English that means we are doing one thing, but accomplishing a lot more. These type of Japanese blogs seem to take a longer time than the others, and I know that everyone is looking for something different on my blog, so you won’t get Japanese grammar blogs everyday, but I will continue sending them out there periodically, so look for them. I hope they are helping you both to understand Japanese better and to understand the Bible better.


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