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Intermediate Japanese Language Learning with Dazai Osamu

Complimentary Japanese Reading Lessons From Maplopo Schoolhouse

Season ONE—水仙 (Page Fourteen)


EP.14 Spotlight: ~ていく, Dazai Osamu (太宰治), Daffodil (水仙)

Video file / Audio File / Online Intermediate Japanese Course

〜ていく, EP.14 transcript | Intermediate and Advanced Japanese

Okay, so next up…

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)

(Speaking Japanese—2nd Reading)

So, a loose translation on this is something like: “Without satisfaction, the lord wins
and retainers die.”

Now, a quick little history note on this last word here ゆく. You may see it more commonly these days as いく… but, since the 8th century, this word can be used interchangeably. ゆく, いく… same meaning.

Okay, folks so… “spotlight time.” てゆく. てゆくis a helping verb—like many of the ones we’ve already discussed—and so it works in concert with the verb that just precedes it, right? So, てゆく, if you can imagine like, a… person… and they’re standing… on a line… or, they’re existing in a certain point in time… in space… and then this thing that they’re engaging with is kind of slowly (or maybe even, quickly) just going away from them. It’s becoming more distant… it’s progressing to this far off limit that’s no longer near the person. That’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about てゆく.

So, it shows the speaker’s relation to the thing discussed… going away, becoming more distant…, progressing to the next level, and no longer able to stop the progress. So, what used to exist, no longer exists. So, three examples for ていく:

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)

(Speaking Japanese—2nd Reading)

So, basically this one means: “Each year 300 students graduate from this vocational school.”

Example number two:

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)

(Speaking Japanese—2nd Reading)

“Hey, look! The rainbow is slowly disappearing!” Oh, no…

Number three:

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)

(Speaking Japanese—2nd Reading)

So, this final sentence is a kind of nod to Ango, and it says, uh: “Although I memorized Pali greetings, the moment I remember them, I forget.”

I’d like to draw attention to ていく’s usage in these three examples. Let’s look at the first one really quickly.

So, it’s helping this verb “graduate” in the way we’ve translated the sentence. But, if we wanted to, in English, really kind of infuse the sentence with this idea of something going away from us, we might use “move on” instead of graduate—gives a little bit more of this kind of tension to the sentence, right?

In the second sentence, instead of saying “slowly disappearing,” we might just say “fading.” Disappearing captures this essence of “going away,” but we could also use “fading” for a little bit more of that. And then in the third sentence, this idea of “remembering something and then forgetting,” we would probably say “fleeting” to capture, again, that kind of… (same idea) of something passing beyond us, right?

So…ていく adds an additional layer of meaning to this first verb. Because without it, uh, the verb is just kind of stating matter-of-factly that something happened, and it lacks emotion. Just like in the first example: “the students graduated.” Okay, students graduate all the time. But, it doesn’t really kind of make you feel anything. If you say they “moved on” you kind of sense that a little bit more, right? So, there’s some measure of disappointment going on there. Some loss is felt. That’s the general idea here with this, uh, てゆく.

And if you notice, I might be saying てゆく, instead of ていく. Maybe that’s why they’re both used. That’s kind of hard to get out of your mouth. Okay…

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