日本語の秘密 9/33


日本語の秘密/ The Key to NIHON-GO

by 岸本建夫 [Kishimoto Tatsuo] 1999
OCR/Corr by most.cyak@gmail.com, Oct 2014


Section 2 Japanese is Wonderful Because It Doesn’t Require Rigid Precision

→ You Should not Say, Watasi wa Mado wo Akemasyou ka?

  I have explained that the subject cannot be left out of a sentence in English because who did is important in the English language. This also shows that English is a language of very strong self-assertion. It’s an active language which dislikes the passive, so the subject of a sentence has a tendency to try to ascertain that which is not determined (chaos). In other words, it tries to secure and keep in place something that is moving, and then observe it. It also tries to keep good, fixed things in their original state forever.

  In comparison, the strong point of Japanese is change. In other words, it supposes that all things are constantly in the process of change and that their present forms are only borrowed ones. Things change naturally due to a number of factors which cannot be understood clearly. Specific individuals are not capable of moving the world, so self-assertion is not allowed, and people who assert themselves are disliked.

  This is why subjects are not that important in Japanese. If you want to say, “Do you go?” in Japanese, you wouldn’t say, “Anata wa ikimasu ka?” It’s better to say just, “Ikimasu ka?” To say, “Shall I open the window?”, you should say, “Mado wo akemasyouka?” not “Watasi wa mado wo akemasyou ka?” If you add a subject here, it sounds quite strange in Japanese.

  Since things are always changing, it doesn’t really matter when they first occurred. You don’t have to be concerned about tense. Take, for example, the difference between pictures and comics. With pictures, you draw a moment of movement and try to capture the true essence of the object. Whether it’s a running horse or a ball that has been thrown, they are not in motion. With comics, however, when you draw a person who is running, you can give him many legs to make it appear as if he’s running. Comics are more appropriate for expressing change. Time is not fixed in comics.

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