April 01, 2009

Negima!? -- Kaede, de gozaru

I'm rewatching Negima!? (haven't got anything better to do). Kaede has a really odd way of using language.

For one thing she uses -dono for nearly everyone. (Except Negi; she's one of the ones who can't resist the Negi-bozu pun.) She even uses -dono for Fuka and Fumika, her best friends. They call her Kaede-nee, which is a lot more familiar and intimate. But that's not what inspires this post.

I just noticed that Kaede uses de gozaru. Which is really rare. I don't think I've ever heard it before. Or at least didn't recognize it.

Usually if you want to be informal you'd just use desu or da. If you want to be polite you'd use de gozaimasu. Why use de gozaru? It's informal yet seems a bit flowery, almost like an affectation.

Is it a regionalism? Or, like her use of -dono, is it a way of differentiating her from the other characters?

Kaede seems rather more polite, deferential, and caring than you'd ordinarily expect from a ninja anyway. In principle, she is an assassin after all. But in fact it looks like her specialty is stealth and espionage, not so much the killing part.

UPDATE: While I'm on language, there's something I've wanted to get parsed so I could add it to my "next 100" page.

It occurs at the end of ep 7. Sayo says yoroshiku onegaishimasu to Negi. Negi responds kochiokoso or so it sounds to me.

I've got that 此方 kochi means "here" and it can be read as "me". こそ koso is an emphasis, loosely meaning "for sure". I think that the "o" is a particle indicating that what precedes it is a verb object. Is that right?

Anyway, loosely what the whole phrase means is "Same here". Right?

UPDATE: Pete is right: it's kochirakoso.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 04:02 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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March 26, 2009

Online Japanese dictionaries

My usual online dictionary has been AnimeLab. One problem with it is that their database is outdated. (It doesn't include madoushi, for instance.)

J Greely's dictionary is good, and his database does know what madoushi means. But I can't link to search results.

I just learned of a new one called Nihongodict. It's spiffy as hell. It's using the same EDICT database, and results are linkable.

UPDATE: I was wrong about J's dictionary. Looks like I can link to search results. The only real problem is that his search results don't include romaji representations, which is pretty important for illiterates like me.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 11:05 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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March 25, 2009

www lol

Peter clears up something I had been confused about:

The letter "w" is also used on the net as shorthand for the Japanese word warau (to laugh), and adding "ww" to a Twitter post is roughly the same as typing "LOL" in English to indicate laughing out loud.

OK, that explains a lot. I wondered what all those w's were for. (I've been seeing them in threes, and got confused by "world wide web".)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 09:03 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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March 12, 2009


I'm not really sure how I feel about this.

独立行政法人宇宙航空研究開発機構 (Dokuritsu-gyousei-houjin Uchuu Koukuu Kenkyuu Kaihatsu Kikou) is Japan's equivalent of NASA. It has to be admitted that the Japanese name is a mouthful. (And it's entirely kanji.)

So they go by JAXA, which comes from the English phrase Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency. I know that to the Japanese, English seems modern and high-tech, but it still seems a bit strange that the official logo for Japan's space agency is based on a romaji acronym from an English translation of the Japanese name. I wonder how that happened?

In case anyone's interested, this is where JAXA does its launches.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:42 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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February 24, 2009


I've been trying to figure out this phrase for a long time, and tonight I bagged it: ii kagen nishiro

I think that's how the word boundaries land. It's written like this: いい加減にしろ and it's the imperative of ii kagen nisuru which means "to quit something one has been engaged in too long". In its imperative form it means is "Knock it off, already!" or "That's quite enough!"

I've heard it in a lot of places, but in particular one of the aliens says it in the third episode of Shingu and it's been bothering me for a long time.

I'm still having trouble parsing the phrase. I know that ii means "good" and I think that 加減 kagen means "degree, extent" (it has a bunch of meanings). But that's where I get lost, because I can't figure out what nisuru means. (Is it a variant of suru "to do"?)

I'm thinking that the literal meaning (in the imperative form) is something along the lines of "a sufficient amount has been done".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 01:51 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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February 08, 2009

Shin, god?

I'm rewatching Macademi Wasshoi, because I have in mind to do a TMW about it and I'm preparing my thoughts.

Listening to it, there's a word stem they use, shin it sounds like to me, which they're using to mean "god". For example, at one point they refer to shinkai to makai and it means "the realms of the gods and demons."

makai is perfectly fine; I've run into it before. (That's the name of the place Glenda comes from in Petite Princess Yucie, for example.)

ma means "demon".
kai means "world"

But I've been burning up the dictionaries tonight and I cannot identify any kanji or any other use of shin that means anything remotely like "god" or "deity" or "angel". The only word I know for that is 神 kami which they aren't using.

Anyone care to give me a hand here? What am I missing?

UPDATE: And no sooner do I post this than I find the answer. shin is one of the pronunciations of 神. How common is it?

So shinkai would be 神界. I wonder why they're using shin exclusively in this instead of kami?

UPDATE: I was wrong. They also use kami in some cases.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 08:41 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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February 02, 2009

Japanese -- moshikashitte

There's a phrase I've heard a lot of times, and it means something like "You don't suppose?" It's an indication that an unexpected thought just occurred to someone, a surprising idea that might be true. I just ran into it specifically in the third episode of Kirameki Project.

Anyway, to my ear it sounds like moshikashitte but that doesn't seem to be right. I've got that 若し moshi means "supposing". And tte is a quote mark, sometimes used rhetorically. It can be translated pretty well as "you say".

In the 7th episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Yuuno transforms into his boy form, and it's the first time Nanoha sees it. She hadn't suspected he was anything except a magical ferret. She gets rather incoherent for a minute, and one of the things she says is "Yuuno-kun tte! Yuuno-kun tte!" That's Yuuno, you say? That's Yuuno, you say?

Anyway, I can't figure out the middle word or the total phrase. None of the dictionary entries for it make any sense to me. (Unless, maybe it's this one: 下賜.)

Help me out here, folks. What is it I'm hearing? I want to add it to my "common phrases" list.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 07:06 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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January 21, 2009

Nanoha A's -- subtitles

It took me a while to notice that they have hardsubbed some of Raising Heart's lines in Japanese. The English subtitles lay on top of them, so it's easy to miss.

In the second episode there's a point where Raising Heart says "Let's shoot it! Starlight Breaker!" The Japanese subtitle says:

撃ってください スターライトブレイカーを
utte kudasai sutaa raito bureikaa o

I'm not absolutely certain about the first but I think it's right. I've heard "utte" before in DBZ, and I'm guessing that it's the imperative form of 撃つ utsu "to attack, to defeat, to destroy". So what she says is "Please attack (with) Starlight Breaker!" But it could be a big tsu, so it would be "utsute", also plausibly the imperative.

She also says "I can be shot." The subtitle is:


Isn't that the polite present tense of utsu? I don't quite understand what that means in this case, since it isn't an imperative any longer.

I'm wondering if it's "woman's speech", the way a polite woman would imply an imperative to a senior without actually using one. Likewise, I'm guessing that the final -o in the first one is the same as yo except more polite.

How badly did I botch that?

(By the way, it's a good thing Nanoha has been paying attention in her English classes. She doesn't have Japanese subtitles to read!)

UPDATE: Just received this by email:

"Utemasu" is the polite potential of Utsu. 
The polite simple form of Utsu is Uchimasu.

Hokay. I think I understand that. It means that utemasu means "It is possible to shoot". So "I can be shot" isn't too bad. Of course, a fluent English speaker would have said, "I can do it." But "I can be shot" ain't bad for Engrish.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 04:11 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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January 05, 2009

Magic flask

This I like: 魔法 mahou means "magic". 魔法瓶 mahoubin turns out to mean "thermos bottle". Literally it reads "magic flask".

Shades of Maxwell's Demon...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:37 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 28, 2008

Japanese -- kiwotsukeru

気を付ける kiwotsukeru is a verb that means "to be careful". In its imperative ("te") form kiwotsukete, it means "Be careful!" or "Take care!"

Is this a word that's been subject to pronunciation drift? In ep 7 of Nanoha, Lindy says it, and she leaves out the "w" sound. As she pronounces it, it's kiotsukete.

UPDATE: And later Nanoha says it the same way. And aha, I see what the problem is. This hiragana を used to be pronounced "wo" and now is pronounced "o". It's really rare; doesn't come up much. I'm guessing that the database uses wo in the romanization in order to prevent ambiguity with .

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 07:22 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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