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Intermediate Japanese Language Learning with Dazai Osamu

Complimentary Japanese Reading Lessons From Maplopo Schoolhouse

Season ONE—水仙 (Page Nine)

 

EP9. Spotlight: ~ていたら~た, Dazai Osamu (太宰治), Daffodil (水仙)

Video file / Audio File / Online Intermediate Japanese Course

Read the full EP9 transcript, Spotlight: ~ていたら~た | Intermediate and Advanced Japanese

Let’s take a look at some pretty cool grammar from this second sentence. And, first we’ll listen to a portion of the sentence read in Japanese first.

(Speaking Japanese)

Here we have the lord walking in the garden and hears off in the distance in the rear
of the garden some nasty whispering. And we have one little grammar point here. The grammar point that we want to highlight here, is a single grammar point, but it basically includes two actions, if you will.

The first action is what we would call a “durative action” which is: the lord walking. He’s walking through (or, IN the garden). The second action is him hearing people talking about him, right? Part of what makes this point very interesting is exactly how useful it is, okay? So, you have a durative action (something that’s happening…) interrupted by something unexpected. So, the lord is walking along the garden…

[making whistling sounds]

…and then (!) …he hears something.

Whispering, right?

It “interrupts” his action and that’s what we have here in this grammar point. Okay. It’s something that has unfolded by chance—totally coincidental and not planned and this grammar point captures those two things in one example. Let’s listen to some more examples.

(Speaking Japanese)

So this sentence means: “I was boiling pasta in the kitchen, and the doorbell rang.” Now, if this sounds a little bit familiar to you you probably read Murakami, and this is a slightly bastardized version (or adapted version) of a very famous first sentence of his from “[The] Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” …just a slightly different thing ringing… [laughing] Okay. Second sentence.

(Speaking Japanese)

This sentence says: “I was shopping in the department store and ran into my sister.”

So. In both of these sentences you can see this grammar point at play, right? You have this first durative action playing out—boiling pasta in the kitchen. Then, the doorbell rings. In the second sentence—shopping in the department store (maybe buying some chocolates…? Chocolates are always good). Maybe you’re shopping in the department store for chocolates, and you run into your sister. So, durative action… interrupted (surprisingly) by running into your sister. Okay.

Now, you can also translate both of these sentences in a much more different way. You can just say: “When I was boiling pasta in the kitchen the doorbell rang.” Or, “When I was shopping in the department store I ran into my sister.” On the page, they lack a little bit of drama… I can read them with drama, but on the page they’re missing something. So, the next sentence would normally follow with: “What happened next?” Right? But, just to let you know you can translate these sentences in these two different ways.

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Page 9 (click here for the next lesson)