Maplopo Presents:

Intermediate Japanese Language Learning with Dazai Osamu

Complimentary Japanese Reading Lessons From Maplopo Schoolhouse

Season ONE—水仙 (Page thirty three)


EP.33 Spotlight: ばかり, Dazai Osamu (太宰治), Daffodil (水仙)

Video file / Audio File / Online Intermediate Japanese Course

ばかり, EP33 Transcript | Intermediate and Advanced Japanese

[Quiet Jazz Piano Music Playing]
Okay troopers… last video tutorial for Section ONE.
Nice work—you made it.
We’re gonna look at ばかり today, which is a word you’ve seen before—but maybe,
haven’t heard—and certainly not heard to this extent.
So, let’s take a look at it and listen to Dazai’s sentence right now.
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“My worry increases and worsens.”
Two examples:
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“With private student loan interest being so high,
student repayment amounts will only continue to balloon.”
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“The rain is getting heavier and heavier, and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop at all for now.”
So, this basically means that, uh…,: “something continues along a certain path,
…and then gets progressively worse as it travels that path.”
That’s essentially this one in a nutshell.
Okay, let’s get into the weeds here a little bit…
…and, I’ll try not to confuse you.
So, as with many of these expressions, there’s a core meaning…
and then, a derivative meaning (or, many derivative meanings).
This instance of Dazai’s, is one of these derivative meanings
of a core meaning.
And with ばかり there are actually multiple core meanings.
So, this usage from Dazai is one of these core meanings, and it basically means, “only.”
Now, the best way to really understand this is, of course, to look at examples.
Because, trying to explain what “only” means is *only* impossible.
So, let’s take a look at some examples… first, in Japanese:
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“It’s always just me who gets the short end of the stick.”
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“That restaurant is just cheap. The food and service are terrible.”
So, this usage that you’ve just heard is probably pretty familiar…, uh, to you, right?
And that particular usage, uh, when you see it used in this way (this kind of “only,” right?)
If I were to kind of rephrase those two sentences:
“It’s only me who gets the short end of the stick,” or, “That restaurant is only just cheap…,” right?
If we’re zeroing in (and focusing on) those specific, uh, instances of “only,” then you can switch out ばかり with だけ.
だけ being, of course, another word that covers this essential core meaning of “only”
That, of course, changes when you get into some of these derivative, uh, usages which
is really what we’re all here to talk about today.
Still, having said that, these are different words, right?
And, so… they have slightly different usages even though they are interchangeable at this kind of core level, right?
Um, you’re gonna’ use either one of these to talk about some sort of action or state.
And, you’re limiting your focus on what’s happening, right?
As always, a good way to look at this is maybe through the power of example.
Hopefully, this is a powerful example.
So, imagine you’re in Japan.
And, you get on a train car.
And…, you sit down… (and you’re a man).
And, you’re very comfortable, and you’re, maybe… a little tired, and you close your eyes for a minute.
And, a few minutes later, uh, … maybe (at) the first stop… you open up your eyes just to see what’s happening… (to) make
sure you don’t need to, maybe, stand to give your seat to somebody…, and then you realize…
uh, there’s a lot of women on this train, actually…
there’s one over there… and, there’s one right next to me… (and maybe she’s looking
at me kind of funny) and, there’s one across from me…
So, in that moment I’m in a ばかり situation.
There’s just a lot of women around, and I can kinda’ pick them out one by one.
They haven’t kinda’ joined into any mass… at this point.
But, if I start to think: “Maybe I’m on a ‘Woman’s Only Car’…” then I start to lump
those individual women into kind of one mass of “women.”
I’m on the “Women’s Car.”
And, then I can switch my tone to だけ.
And, if I were to be looking at the train car, and see that pink sign…, that says:
“Women’s Only Car”… then, I’m definitely in a だけ situation, because I’m essentially, uh, in
the wrong place—because men are excluded on this car.
So, that’s the difference…
It’s very, very, very subtle.
Um, but, an important subtlety worth knowing about.
So, now that you have a general feeling for the difference between ばかり and だけ,
and when you might use both… or, rather, when you might use one or the other,
at least in this train car scenario. There’s one thing I want you to keep in mind as we navigate
into this next derivative… that will help, uh, flesh this out a little bit more for you.
So, when we were thinking in ばかり mode, and we were on the train (and we could, uh, count
women on the train). There’s a certain kind of number there, right?
And, you can identify *that* woman and *that* woman… but, the moment things kind of switched
to だけ, you’re, you’re grouping everyone together.
And, “they” (the women) kind of lose their plurality in a way.
They become a single entity.
They’re “women” in the car. Because it’s the “Women’s Car.”
This idea of things being countable, in a sense, plays a minor role in this next thing
that we’re going to talk about.
So, before we get into it, let’s do some examples.
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“Don’t just play games till no end, go study.”
(Speaking Japanese—1st Reading)
(Speaking Japanese —2nd Reading)
“I’m sorry, I apologize for asking for favors over and over again.”
This derivative meaning is probably pretty obvious, right?
It’s about doing “nothing but.”
And, over and over, and over again.
If you are a gamer, you may have heard somebody say this to you before.
Um, but that’s the meaning.
Now, I mentioned a moment ago this idea of being countable, right?
Well, we’re talking about an action (for one), that’s being done more than once.
You can count the occasions of this activity, right?
Just like when we were on the train, we could count, if you will, the number of women that
were on the train.
But, with だけ…
だけ is singular in nature.
And, it’s exclusionary as well.
So, we’re counting things OUT.
Because だけ doesn’t possess this flexibility within this context of ばかり…
…uh, it’s not interchangeable.
So that’s it!
You made it to the end of Section ONE.
Section TWO is a whole different story.
We get out of the “old times” with Dazai and into the “new The NEW ‘old times'” with Dazai.
So, stay tuned.
Review what you’ve learned so far…
there’s lots more good stuff to come, and probably even, uh, … maybe…
some more ばかり in there somewhere…
I don’t know.
[Quiet Jazz Piano Music Playing]

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