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Help translating a passage from a textbook

dhmkhkk

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Hi there,

I was wondering if I understand these 2 sentences from a text correctly (literally):

家族は親切ですが、みんなさんは私と英語を話したがっています。だから、私は「英語を話さなきゃ」と思って、英語を話します。

1. The family is kind, but they all want to speak English with me. ("but"? it's as if they are less kind because they want to speak English with me?)
2. That's why I thought "I must speak English", and/so I speak English. 話さなきゃ is short for 話さなきゃいけない = I must?

Thank you!
 
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Toritoribe

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みんなさん is wrong. It should be みんな or みなさん.

1)
Notice what the main theme of the paragraph is. That's the reason why speaking with the host family members in English is not good for the speaker/writer.

2)
Yes.
 

dhmkhkk

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Thank you)))

Yes the speaker said he has been living in Japan for 6 months but his Japanese hasn't gotten better since his host family and friends are always speaking English with him. But I was just wondering if it doesn't sound rude in Japanese to say "The family is kind, BUT..."
 

OoTmaster

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The main theme of the paragraph must be him trying to improve his Japanese then. So I would assume that means "The family is kind, but they all want to speak English with me. (so I cannot practice Japanese)"
 

dhmkhkk

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Hmmm got it, thanks :) I guess my problem is that since が kind of belongs to the first part of the sentence, it's like I am negating it "the family is kind, but not that kind". I think I would have less problems with でも and a new sentence hehe ;)
 

joadbres

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That usage of が does not strongly equate to "but" in English. In fact, sometimes it conveys more of an "and". When learning Japanese, you need to, as much as possible, resist translating everything back into English, which will sometimes result in awkward translations, and instead open your mind to thinking in Japanese. Doing this takes time, of course.
 

dhmkhkk

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When learning Japanese, you need to, as much as possible, resist translating everything back into English, which will sometimes result in awkward translations, and instead open your mind to thinking in Japanese. Doing this takes time, of course.

I totally agree, but for me it's quite difficult yet. Otherwise I wouldn't have asked this question :) I think it will change after I've dived in the world of anime or some kind of Japanese drama. But before that fun part I have to go through textbooks with tons of grammar. So I'm only focusing on the language skeleton aka grammar now and that's why (probably) I haven't gotten that feeling of the language yet. My theory, anyway.
 

Toritoribe

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I guess my problem is that since が kind of belongs to the first part of the sentence, it's like I am negating it "the family is kind, but not that kind". I think I would have less problems with でも and a new sentence
家族は親切ですが、みんなは私と英語を話したがっています。
家族は親切ですけど/けれども、みんなは私と英語を話したがっています。
家族は親切です。が、みんなは私と英語を話したがっています。
家族は親切です。けど/けれども、みんなは私と英語を話したがっています。
家族は親切です。でも、みんなは私と英語を話したがっています。
家族は親切です。しかし、みんなは私と英語を話したがっています。

The meaning is the same in all the sentences above. "The family is kind" is not negated at all in these sentences.

As you might already realize, this is an example of (the speaker/writer thinks) why his Japanese doesn't improve. Japanese friends in school or shop clerks also talk to him in English, so you need to add "so I cannot practice Japanese" after all these examples, as OoTmaster-san wrote.

学校に日本人の友だちがたくさんいますが、 みんなの英語は私の日本語より上手です。 だから、だいたい英語を使います。so I cannot practice Japanese.
買い物の時も、「すみません。 あの、これください」と日本語で言いますが、 お店の人は「スーハンドレッドエンね。サンキュー」と英語で言います。so I cannot practice Japanese.
Therefore, although I've been living in Japan for 6 months, my Japanese hasn't gotten better.
(In these sentences above, "I have many Japanese friends in school" or "I said 'Excuse me, I want this'" is not negated, right?)
 

dhmkhkk

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In these sentences above, "I have many Japanese friends in school" or "I said 'Excuse me, I want this'" is not negated, right?

Ok "negate" is the wrong word. Maybe the better word would be "contrast". I will try to explain.

1. In the example with the family, if you say "the host family is kind, but they talk English with me" is like "my family is kind, but since they only speak English with me, they seem to be less kind". Since you are describing the family directly and assigning it a property ("kind"), the "but" in the end makes it sound like the family is less kind because of the "but". It sounds like that to me, anyway 🙂:

2. Example with friends: I have a lot of friends, but their English is better so they speak English with me. This is a different kind of "but", he just said he has many friends. It is a neutral sentence, he didn't describe his friends. If he puts a "but" after it, he doesn't make the property be less kind/good or whatever. Same with the clerks. If he said "My friends are awesome, but..." it would be like "they are awesome, but not that awesome after all". Or "I love my friends, but... " ... something is gonna follow which will explain why you don't love them that much after all. Because usually if the 1st part of the sentence is positive, the part after "but" will be negative.

My girlfriend is awesome (+), but she costs me too mich money (-)
I love my friends (+), but sometimes they are jerks (-)
My home family is kind (+), but they only speak English with me (-)

You cannot make both parts positive, like "My girlfriend is awesome, but she is kind". I hope you get what I mean.

Another question: how are you doing this? How did you know which text it was, are you a magician? :emoji_astonished: It was a text from a printed book! :emoji_grinning:
 

joadbres

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Another question: how are you doing this? How did you know which text it was, are you a magician?

@Toritoribe has special access to a system which contains the content from a large volume of published works. I'm a little hazy on the details, but it involves a series of interconnected computer networks which share information.
 

Toritoribe

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Remember the main theme of the paragraph is "he has been living in Japan for 6 months but his Japanese hasn't gotten better". Usually, staying in Japan works as a merit to improve his Japanese through talking with host family members, Japanese friends in school or shop clerks, BUT it doesn't help since they talk with him in English. That's his logic behinds those examples. Even if it's, for instance, 学校に日本人の友だちがたくさいて、みんな優しいですが、みんなの英語は私の日本語より上手です。だから、だいたい英語を使います。, が doesn't deny みんな優しい at all, or it's not a contrast to みんな優しくない (but they are not kind), either. The contrast is "usually I can practice " but "actually I can't" in all examples.

usually if the 1st part of the sentence is positive, the part after "but" will be negative.

My girlfriend is awesome (+), but she costs me too mich money (-)
I love my friends (+), but sometimes they are jerks (-)
My home family is kind (+), but they only speak English with me (-)

You cannot make both parts positive, like "My girlfriend is awesome, but she is kind". I hope you get what I mean.
Here's a perfectly natural Japanese sentence;
家族はみんな親切ですが、特にお父さんは信じられないぐらい優しいです。

As you can see, these two clauses "family members are all kind" and "especially father is unbelievably kind" are both positive. This is an example that が is clearly not an adversative conjunction, as explained above.

Another question: how are you doing this? How did you know which text it was, are you a magician?
Actually, simply Google is the magic.🙂:
L14 Vocab Flashcards | Quizlet
What advice would you offer in this situation? (in Japanese)? | Yahoo Answers
I initially thought that が might be for introducing the main clause, not an adversative conjunction, as already mentioned above, so I needed to check the context to answer your question as correctly as possible.
 

dhmkhkk

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Hmmmm you are right, "but" is not necessarily adversative. I see it now. Thank you so much!)))

So, no interconnected computer networks? No dark net? :) I'm a bit disappointed :emoji_joy:

Could you please elaborate a little bit on が being used to introduce the main clause? I don't really understand how you mean it. An example would suffice, thank you))
 

Toritoribe

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Actually, this が confuses many learners, and the similar questions are asked frequently.🙂:

ポリシーを持っていらっしゃると伺いましたが、そのポリシーをお聞かせいただけませんか

明日は休みですが、何か予定はあるんですか

家の鍵をなくしたんですが、いい鍵屋さんをご存じありませんか
Help with this sentence | Page 15 | Japan Forum

この頃わかってきたのだが、旅人の中には用心のためか、こちらの挨拶に頷くぐらいしか、挨拶を返さないものが少なくない。
のだが not 逆接 or used at the end of a sentence? | Japan Forum

時間があるときでいいんだが、送ってくれないか。
気づいた / いいので / で / 地震のことを考えて | Japan Forum

冷蔵庫に入れたものは忘れがちだが、悪くならないうちにできるだけ早く食べてしまうことだ。
くらいなら / しっかり / ために / 努力規定 / ことだ | Japan Forum

Feel free to ask about the meaning of these example sentences if it's unclear.
 

dhmkhkk

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Honestly, in the sentences above there are too many things which I don't understand so probably asking every little detail would take a bit too long... for example this one (the forum thread has too many posts, I really couldn't find the correct translation):

1. ポリシーを持っていらっしゃると伺いました、そのポリシーをお聞かせいただけませんか
I got a problem understanding who asked who and who is having the policy... :/ Maybe the humble and honorific words should help here a bit but honestly, I feel kind of lost:

I asked you "do you have the policy?", so can I receive that policy...?

I haven't learned the form of お聞かせ yet, looks to me like some kind of verb stem without masu but don't know from which form.

2. 明日は休みですが、何か予定はあるんですか
Since tomorrow is a holiday, do you have any plans?

I see the point though, it's not necessarily translated as "but". But please, could you give simpler examples next time and not those ones where users with much more knowledge of Japanese than me post here in the forum because they have no idea themselves? :emoji_slight_smile:
 

joadbres

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Be very careful with what you ask for, as your request can seem rude, especially as @Toritoribe went way out of his way to search for and provide all those examples. Most of the examples he chose were all ones that were previously asked about and discussed on the forum, so the level of difficulty of each one is beyond his control. You can just skip over the ones that you are not ready for. Of the ones he gave, numbers 2, 3 and 5 should be suitable for your level, so I suggest studying all three of those to understand this usage of が. You can skip 1, 4, and 6 for now.
Also, back-translating these into English sometimes causes a loss of the "feel" for the Japanese, so read each of them a few times in Japanese to make sure you are getting that feel.
I usually think of the "introductory が" as having a meaning similar to "Oh, hey, by the way. Regarding the...", or something along those lines.
 

dhmkhkk

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I didn't want to offend Toritoribe, I was just thinking that maybe writing simple example sentences would be easier for him (and for me, of course) than going through all the trouble of looking for the examples in the forum. I really appreciate his help... Unfortunately, I am really not at the level yet where I can understand such complex sentences. I'm sorry if I sounded rude, it wasn't my intention. You are right about sentences 2,3 and 5 🙂: Thanks for your help, too!
 
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Toritoribe

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Oh, sorry for picking up too complicated examples. I just chose those examples from the thread I replied, as joadbres-san explained.

1)
This is from an interview to the CEO of a company, so the interviewer uses honorifics. It means "I've heard you have a policy. Could you tell us about it?". ポリシーを持っていると聞きましたが、そのポリシーを聞かせてください makes more sense, maybe?

2)
Yes, you got it correctly.

時間があるときでいいんだが、送ってくれないか。 is indeed relatively simple. Incidentally, the original question was like this;

In an email, one friend has asked another to buy some items for her at a Tokyo department store. Then she says:

時間があるときでいいので送ってください。

I don't really get でいいので. To me it looks like "It's good when you have the time, so please send me (the items)", which isn't really coherent.


I explained that this ので is actually not for "cause/reason", but introducing the main clause as same as が, which the OP already came across previously, and I made the example 時間があるときでいいんだが、送ってくれないか。 with using が. These sentences mean "It's OK when you have time. Please send me (the items)". The opposite order "Please send me (the items). It's OK when you have time." would be more natural/understandable in English, though.

As you can see in my translations above, the meaning actually does not change significantly even if this が is removed.

ポリシーを持っていると聞きましたが、そのポリシーを聞かせてください。
ポリシーを持っていると聞きました。そのポリシーを聞かせてください。

明日は休みですが、何か予定はあるんですか。
明日は休みです。何か予定はあるんですか
Tomorrow is a holiday. Do you have any plans?

時間があるときでいいんだが、送ってくれないか。
時間があるときでいい。送ってくれないか。

家の鍵をなくしたんですが、いい鍵屋さんをご存じありませんか(=知りませんか)。
家の鍵をなくしたんです。いい鍵屋さんをご存じありませんか。
I have lost my house key. Do you know a good locksmith?

家族はみんな親切ですが、特にお父さんは信じられないぐらい優しいです。
家族はみんな親切です。特にお父さんは信じられないぐらい優しいです。
Family members are all kind. Especially father is unbelievably kind.

すみませんが、郵便局はどちらですか。
すみません。郵便局はどちらですか。
Excuse me. Where is the post office?

田中と申しますが、山田さんいらっしゃいますか。
田中と申します。山田さんいらっしゃいますか。
This is Tanaka. Is Mr.Yamada there?
 

dhmkhkk

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No problem, thanks for taking your time and helping me :)

1) Yes, it's much better, thank you)))) I understand the が is not really translated. Is there a specific reason why it is even put there? Like maybe, it sounds more casual or the other way around, more business-like? In what kind of situations do you usually put it to introduce the main clause?

a) Is it the same が like in the follwing? Someone wants to apply for a job, calls the company and says: アルバイト募集の広告を見たんですが... Not sure if I got it correctly, but it makes the sentence sound a bit softer, leaving the person you are talking to some free space for the answer or some kind of reaction. But i have a feeling it is another kind of が...

2) I've actually read the thread some time ago... and I must admit I don't quite get the ので part either. :emoji_sob: Sorry, you probably hate to explain the same thing time and time again. :emoji_sweat_smile:
時間があるときでいいので送ってください。

So after I've read your discussion I just have one question. Is it:
1. when you have time, if it is ok for you, please send me the items. OR
2. when you have time, it is ok for me if you send me the items (whenever you have time)

Thanks for the examples! I would really like to know the reason why you would want to use が to introduce the main clause :emoji_relaxed:
 

Toritoribe

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It has nothing to do with casualness/politeness. が is used in all situations. The main function is "to introduce the main clause"; why the speaker says the following thing. が shows that what is said preceding が is not the main theme. The focus is what follows it. Also, が makes the flow of the story/conversation more natural. If it's not there, the conversation could sound like "chopped-up".

a)
This が is really for the introduction. It's used to avoid to ask the question directly. (I wrote "This omission can avoid sounding "pushy/rude" by requesting the answer directly, so it's often used in interviews or even in daily conversations. " in the thread.) In fact, what the interviewer actually said in the interview was just "ポリシーを持っていらっしゃると伺いましたが", and the CEO started talking about the policy since he understood that he was asked a question. The OP asked what the sentence actually meant, so I supplied the omitted last half of the sentence.

2)
It's the latter.
 

dhmkhkk

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Ah! So it's the same が after all, thank you! I got it now. I understand why it is used when the sentence is incomplete, but for a complete sentence the が in the middle is still a little bit redundant for me, so I hope the understanding will come to me with time :emoji_relaxed:
 
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