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Intermediate Japanese Language Learning with Dazai Osamu

Complimentary Japanese Reading Lessons From Maplopo Schoolhouse

Season ONE—水仙 (Page TWENTY THREE)


EP23. Spotlight: おいう, #2, Dazai Osamu (太宰治), Daffodil (水仙)

Video file / Podcast Episode / Online Intermediate Japanese Course

Read the full EP23 transcript, Spotlight: という, #2 | Intermediate and Advanced Japanese

[Soft Piano Music Playing]

Let’s shine the spotlight again on という. Now, don’t skip over this because it’s different than the last one you learned. All right.

We’re going to flip the model again here for you and start with, uh, examples, because it’s a little bit more helpful with these complicated ones. So, let’s listen first to Dazai’s sentence in Japanese:

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)


So, loose translation of this one. Uh, … “These days, that senior is quite spry and we don’t have to coddle him anymore. Ha!

—We’d exchange truly crude remarks like that.”

I’m not gonna laugh like Reiko.

And, the next one…

(Japanese Speaking—1st Reading)

(Japanese Speaking—2nd Reading)

“I heard a rumor that Terumaru opened a yakitori joint in Kyoto.”

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)

(Speaking Japanese—2nd Reading)

“Word on the street is, that movie’s pretty good!”

(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)

(Speaking Japanese—2nd Reading)

“Kotoko has a dream to become a shipmaster and voyage the world’s deep blue.”

All right. So, let’s talk about this a little bit. To keep things simple, we’ll use blocks. Blocks are good. Legos! Everybody loves Legos, right? That’s kind of what this sentence is look… [stuttering] … is looking like to us.

So, in this first part, here, you have a rectangle, right? And then in the middle, you have という. Or, とゆ… you might remember it can be pronounced that way, right? We have a rectangle. という. And, then a circle. What’s happening here? This rectangle represents a clause (essentially). And our circle is going to represent the, uh, the focus of the, uh, the sentence… it’s probably a noun. It is in our examples.
And, in the middle という is a functioning word. So, it’s functioning as an identifier of this “circle thing.”

Let’s take a look at our examples.

So, in this first one, our rectangle includes: “Terumaru opened a yakitori joint in Kyoto.” And then, our circle is “a rumor.” (In) the next one, our rectangle is “that movie is pretty good.” And, the circle is: “Word on the street.” In the last example, our rectangle is: “Kotoko becomes a shipmaster and voyages the world’s deep blue.” The circle here is “a dream.” Now, you probably are noticing that I’ve changed the sentence a little bit. And say… I’m saying— “becomes,” right? Because, uh, to make sense as I’m explaining it to you, I need to do that. Because what we’re doing here in this… this grammatical setup, is we’re asking:

“What kind of dream,” right?

Well, it’s a dream where she “becomes” a shipmaster and voyages the deep blue sea.

In the second example “what IS the word on the street?”

Well, the word is that it’s a pretty good movie.

And, “what kind of rumor? Or…, what’s the rumor?”

That he opened a yakitori joint in Kyoto, right?

So that’s what’s happening here with this, という. It’s a functioning word. It doesn’t really have meaning—like functioning words in English—(don’t). And it’s just there to kind of complete that idea that’s not described very well. It’s answering, or allowing you to tell the reader, (or the listener) “what kind of thing
it is.” That’s all it does.

All right. Let’s look at Dazai’s sentence. It’s actually not that complicated even though it might look a little bit more complex. He’s doing two things that make it a little bit interesting. First, is he’s sticking this entire quote block into the rectangle, right? And so that’s a lot of words that he sticks in there. But, don’t worry about it… it’s just a… quote. And in the circle, we have “remarks.” So, “what kind of remarks?” The kind of remarks that we just told you about. And, など, here, tells us that the quote is a representative example of the remarks—that’s all, right? So, that’s the first thing.

The second thing that makes this a little bit tricky (if you just kind of look at it and worry about it—which maybe you’re doing) is that, wow, “remarks” is SO far away from という, and in the other examples it’s right there after it, right? Well, he’s just sticking in an adverb and an adjective there to describe a bit more completely what kind of, uh, talk or gossiping was happening, right?

And, we could do the same thing in all of these other examples, right? So, you could say, like… “a big rumor,” … “a scary rumor,” … “an interesting rumor,” … “a word on the street…” So, you could say it’s, uh… “the hot word on the street.” A dream could be: “a big fantastical dream,” right? That’s all.

It just kind of pushes a little bit away from という, but… um, the [stuttering] uh, the message is still there… don’t let it freak you out too much.

[Soft Piano Music Playing] 

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