日本語の秘密 10/33


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

→ What is the Difference?
  Amerika wa Ookii vs. Amerika ga Ookii

  Subjects in Japanese are followed by “は” (pronounced wa, not ha) or “が” (ga). What’s the difference between the two? The answer is easy. With wa, the focus is placed on the predicate.

  If you say, “Amerika wa ookii”, it answers the question What about America?: whether it is big or small.

  With ga, the focus is placed on the subject.

  If you say, “Amerika ga ookii”, the issue becomes whether it’s America or some other country that is big.

  Take a look at this next sentence to confirm the difference in meanings.

  Amerika wa taikoku de aru ga, Amerika ga tatakatta Betonamu wa syoukoku de aru no ni, Amerika ga (wa) sensou ni maketa.

  ‘America is a large country, but even though the country it fought ── Vietnam ── was small, America was defeated in war.’

  The Amerika wa taikoku de aru ga in the beginning of the sentence puts emphasis on the fact that America is a large country.

  Next, Amerika ga tatakatta indicates that it was America, not some other country that fought.

  Betonamu wa syoukoku de aru is the same as Amerika wa taikoku de aru, and says that Vietnam is a small country.

  In the part which reads, Amerika ga (wa) sensou ni maketa, either ga or wa can be used. If you want to emphasize that it was the great country of America and no other that lost, you should use ga, and if you want to emphasize that it lost, you should use wa.

  One thing that I must add here, however, is that the focus or emphasis is not clearly changed with the use of ga and wa, but the focus does seem to change somehow. This shows how vague the Japanese language really is. Most Japanese know unconsciously how to use these particles. It may be difficult for the foreign student to understand the difference between the two at first.

  Let’s look at another function of wa. Wa can also be used at the beginning of a sentence to indicate the theme of the sentence, but this isn’t always the subject of the sentence.

  Zou wa hana ga nagai. ‘Elephants have long noses.’

  The wa in zou wa indicates that elephants are the theme of the sentence, but the subject of this sentence is hana ‘noses’.

  Tabako wa sutte wa ike masen. ‘You cannot smoke cigarettes.’ This sentence shows that Tabako ‘cigarettes’ is the theme of the sentence. The sentence, Tabako wo sutte wa ikemasen, where tabako is the object, means the same as the previous sentence.

  Ga also has another function besides indicating the subject.

  Kimi ga suki da! (’I like you!’) means the same as Kimi wo suki da!, but the two differ in their force. The former is stronger than the latter. This method of expression is recommended when you are trying to influence someone by a show of emotion. If you wish to sound humble, it’s probably best to say, Watasi wa anata wo aisite imasu. (’I love you.’) The ga in Hikari ga mieru {’(I) can see a light.’} and Hon ga yomeru {’(I) can read books.’} emphasizes the words that it brings out.

[ index ] | [ next ]

www.000webhost.com