October 01, 2009

A couple more words

Now that I've figured out how to extract out useful video snippets, I can begin to pursue questions of certain words and phrases I've heard that drive me nuts.

Two of them today, both from Macademi Wasshoi. The first (4.5 megabytes) is from episode 8. There's a ghost wandering the halls of the Magician's Academy, saying something which gets translated as "Use me. Please use me."

I finally figured out that the key word in there is tsukatte which I think is the imperative of tsukaeru. Problem is that there seem to be two different verbs which are closely related: 仕える which means "to serve, to work for" and 使える which means "to be useful, to be serviceable".

Also, onegai doesn't really quite mean "please" though it's often translated that way. What it really means is "wish" or "request". In the charming Japanese way they have of omitting most of the words in sentence clauses, when used this way then idiomatically it means "It is my wish" or "It is my request".

It has the same effect as saying "please" but there's a subtle difference which I think really matters this time.

It sounds to me like she's saying onegai atashi o tsukatte. The "o" is a particle indicating the object of a verb, so what I think she's really saying is closer to "I want to be useful" rather than "Please use me".

I extracted out a pretty big section because Falche says it once, and the little girl says it twice. (Except that Falche says watashi.)

The second (630 Kbytes) is from episode 3. Falche has just said something about Miyabi (which I didn't include) and Miyabi says something which means "You got that right" more or less. It sounds to me like gomeeto. It bugs me because I keep wanting to hear omedetou and that isn't what she's saying.

Setsuna says exactly the same thing on the beach to someone (I won't say who because it's a spoiler) in the second to last episode of Shingu.

Anyway, in this case I don't have a clue what is being said, and it's driving me nuts.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 08:41 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 361 words, total size 2 kb.

1 I heard it in Naruto 64 (link with time offset into the right place). It's not in dictionaries and it's intriguing.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at October 01, 2009 09:28 PM (/ppBw)

2 Well, there's "mei" (明), which means "good insight", and thus "go-mei", but that's about as far as I can reach. No clue why -to suffix.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at October 01, 2009 09:37 PM (/ppBw)

3 In the second one it's ご名答 (gomeitou). The go is an honorific. This might also be a pun, as meitou also means a great or famous sword, and she seems to be swinging a sword. Hard to tell from such a short clip though.

In the first one the verb you're looking for is 使う (tsukau), which means use.

Posted by: tds at October 01, 2009 11:04 PM (zjX5u)

4 Disagree with the first, I'm afraid. There are other Japanese phrases that can be used for "I want to be useful"; this one implicitly objectifies the speaker. I'd also expect something more elaborate than "onegai" if the speaker was really saying "this is what I wish" rather than "please!"

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at October 01, 2009 11:09 PM (vGfoR)

5 I figured I was wrong (about both) which is why I posted this.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 02, 2009 04:00 AM (+rSRq)

6 TDS, yes, that's a sword she's swinging.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 02, 2009 04:02 AM (+rSRq)

7 Tsukatte isn't imperative for tsukau; that would be tsukae ("use this!"). Te-form has a lot of different uses, but this one is the common "X-te kudasai" request ("do X for me", literally "give to me your X-ing"), with the kudasai omitted.

[It couldn't have been any of the tsukaeru verbs, because they're intransitive, and in any case would conjugate as tsukaete]

Side note: I was told that as a male, I should never use "onegai" for "please", because it sounds feminine compared to "onegaishimasu". Senko Maynard's Expressive Japanese classifies it as an amae usage, which certainly fits this context.


Posted by: J Greely at October 02, 2009 09:21 AM (2XtN5)

8 Well, you were close on both counts. It's hard to disambiguate verbs like tsukau and tsukaeru unless you've studied the gory (well, they're not actually so bad, but...) details of how verbs conjugate, and I get the sense that you don't have a lot of interest in formally studying Japanese. On the second one you were exactly right except for the long vowel and- well, I think I started with an advantage there since I sight-read music pretty well, and that still occasionally poses problems for me even after having heard a great deal of Japanese.

I'm a bit hesitant to say this, as I don't want to offer you unwanted advice, but since you're spending a lot of time with dictionaries two things are worth keeping in mind. One is that anytime you hear a word that begins with go or o but you can't find it in the dictionary it's likely that the go or o is an honorific, and that the word is listed without it. The other is that the long e sound is usually written ei, not ee. In a two character Chinese compound like this I think that's actually always the case, off the top of my head. Anyway, I hope that's not more advice than you wanted- if so, sorry.

Posted by: tds at October 02, 2009 02:39 PM (zjX5u)


The business of go- being an honorific, plus the fact that gomeitou means "good job" means it's a lot like gokurosan or gokurosama. The suffixes are the honorifics used with people's names, and are represented by the same kanji as those usages. And they both begin with the same kanji ご as gomeitou does.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 02, 2009 05:04 PM (+rSRq)

10 Yes, very similar, particularly as they're all pretty much set phrases. The main difference is that gomeitou has a much stronger connotation of "Good answer", whereas gokurousama has a connotation of having worked hard/well. san and sama get used in a number of ways that seem initially surprising (or at least were so to me.) Actually another (slightly archaic I think) phrase that specifically means "Right answer (to an arithmetic or math problem)" is gomeisan. The san here is actually not the honorific- it means arithmetic/math, pretty much. But I do wonder if it doesn't carry a bit of the feeling of the honorific because the sound is the same. Fujisan is another one like that. The san here means mountain, but it does make the phrase sound more respectful to my ear at least . Anyway, I'm starting to go pretty far off topic, so...

Btw, though meitou is officially written with the characters I gave (and most dictionaries will list only those), I think that the character Pete gave for mei is an alternate kanji for the phrase that used to be used quite a lot. Kanji usage was a lot less regular before the war, and there were significant reforms after the war.

Posted by: tds at October 02, 2009 05:51 PM (zjX5u)

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