日本語の秘密 17/33


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 4 Japanese is a Free-Spirited Language

→ The Verb Always Comes Last,
   Other Words Can Be Arranged in Any Order

  In Japanese, the verb always comes last.

     Watasi wa mainiti sitizi ni tyousyoku wo toru.
     ‘I have breakfast at 7 o’clock every day.’

  With both English and Chinese, however, the verb always comes before the object.

     I have breakfast at seven o’clock every day.

     我 毎天 七点鐘 吃 早飯。
     [ I / every day / 7 o’clock / eat / breakfast. ]

  In English, the subject comes at the beginning of the sentence and is followed by the verb. In other words, the essential part comes first and is then followed by what matters most to the subject. When you listen to English, it sounds very clear-cut. Compared to English, Japanese can sometimes be very frustrating to listen to, even for Japanese people like myself. You want to say something like, “What are you trying to say? Get to the point already.” You end up feeling this way because Japanese is constructed so that the verb comes last.

  The Japanese language has some wonderful characteristics though, and you’ll notice these if you exercise a little patience with sentence structure. One of the greatest things about Japanese is that, apart from the verb, the other words can be arranged in any order you prefer.

  Let’s take the sentence afore mentioned and see how many ways we can rearrange it.

  As you can see, it is possible to write this sentence 24 different ways. You can arrange it any way you like. It is thought that both the word which goes right before the verb and the word which goes at the beginning of the sentence are emphasized. The verb is like a ship’s anchor. It holds the sentence firmly together. Up until the end of the sentence, the other words are free to move about like a ship that is tossed about by the waves.

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