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:

撃てます
utemasu

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
Post contains 298 words, total size 2 kb.

1 utte is made out of utsu according to normal conjugation rules, the same way iku turns into itte (go), matsu into matte (wait -- very common in anime), etc. The word means "to shoot", like a gun or a bow.

ute-ru is a "can do" form, which is a different rule: it replaces "i" of ~masu stem with "e", then slaps ~ru onto it. The 't' in "ute" is a rudiment of "uchimasu" (it would be "utimasu" in a more regular world), and not ~te like in utte. The result is a grammaticaly a normal ~ru verb, which in its own turn can be conjugated. Therefore "uteru" is a normal form meaning "can hear", "utemasu" is keigo of the same.

Just to fill out the matrix of forms:
utta/uchimashita is the past of "I shot"
uteta/uteimashita should be the past of "I could shoot" (or is it "I was able to shoot" -- I'm not sure of my English here).

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at January 21, 2009 06:03 PM (/ppBw)

2 Oh those dastardly e-mailers Why did I type it all?

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at January 21, 2009 06:03 PM (/ppBw)

3 Originally I had subtitled those lines as translations of the captions instead of transcription of the Engirsh. Got shot down, oh well...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at January 21, 2009 06:21 PM (7TgBH)

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