Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Japanese Verbs Case Study - "tsukuru 作る"

I've learned something about Japanese verbs. In this post I want to look at one particular verb:
  • to make: 作る (つくる) tsukuru
in attempt to find out how japanese use it in different situations and in different ways. As well as to find out what I miss.

One thing to say about my native russian: russians have no idea about "sentence's correct words order". They use their own set of noun~endings to mark subjects and objects in a sentence. It is both good (for understanding foreign languages) and bad (for speaking foreign languages). So please don't blame me for "my" japanese translations because they are in fact japanese-to-russian and only written in english for a sake of blogging :).

First, bit of kanji. 作る is made of:

  • make; manufacture; work; production; prepare; build
  • サク、サ SAKU, SA
  • つく.る tsuku
In fact this single kanji is verb's "base" つく. The first symbol in this kanji is a radical of "JIN/hito" means person here. The second one is "non general use" character expressing "make" and resembling a saw. So I'll remember this as "a person is going to make something with a saw."

First, I go to The Ultra Handy Japanese Verb Conjugator to find out related example sentences from and here they are:

いま あさごはん を つくって います
ima asagohan wo tsukutte imasu
now breakfast~wo make~tte is
I'm making breakfast now.
  • wo means that breakfast is a direct object, same as in さかなをたべます。 while subject is an omitted "watashi wa".
  • tsukutte is a ~te form of tsukuru. ~te here is about continuous action. Here what came to my mind before I realized this, and I was wrong: I see no trace of command ~te in this translation. So my guess the better translation is "I'm to make breakfast now". It's obviously broken English one but my goal is to understand how to use the verbs, and it seems much closer to the original to me.
れいぶん を みっつ つくって ください
reibun wo mittsu tsukutte kudasai
example~wo 3 make~te please
Please make three example sentences.
  • mitsu/3つ is a surprise to me, cause I thouhgt three is:
  • 三 san
  • three
  • サン SAN
  • み、み.つ、みっ.つ mi, mitsu
  • I guess that Japanese use kun reading to count things in speech?

アリ は つち の なか に す を つくります 。
ari ha tsuchi no naka ni su wo tsukurimasu .
ant~wa soil~no inside~in nest~wo make
Ants build nests underground.
  • First, I think is wrong again, ~ha is wrong reading unless Japanese use ~wa for humans and ~ha for animals of which me and google never heard.
  • Why soil ends with ~no I could not get until I connected "tsuchi-no-naka-ni" together. Once I did, I've got it: "(in) soil's inside", "tsuchi~no" = "soil's". So it is: Ants in soil's inside~in nest~wo build.
  • And the last, Japanese are polite to ants: tsukurimasu.
この サラダ は トマト と レタス で つくられている 。
kono sarada ha tomato to retasu de tsukurareteiru .
this salad~wa tomato~and lettuce~from made
This salad is composed of tomatoes and lettuce.
  • First, I notice ~to (and) and ~de (from). Please refer to this article to find out why I decided that de=from here.
  • Second, it's a first time I encounter passive verb form. And, it's different from passive respectful "make" 作られる tsukurareru.
  • I try to understand what "tsukurareteiru" is, and look what I read here: Conjugating to the passive form results in the creation of a new ichidan verb (even if the starting verb was godan). This resulting verb can be conjugated to give negatives, past tenses, presumptives, provisionals, polite forms, etc., just as any other ichidan verb.
  • My mind is blown off already, but I keep calming myself down. I try to conjugate it and see this. It works! Isn't it insane?
  • Now I try to understand what this "tsukurarete + iru" means. A verb's te form with iru is used to show present progressive tense. Terefore, my conclusion is that "tsukurarete iru" is "passive present progressive tense", a progressive equivalent of "made off". I don't think a beast like this exists in English. Not much google brings on, besides this wondeful dialog:
...doku ni okosareru kikai tte, dou nan da?
So uh, how exactly does a machine get poisoned?
Shikata nai. Jibun wa ningen ni chikaku tsukurareteiru no da.
It cannot be helped. I am constructed to be similar to a human being.

この はたけ で は むぎ を つくっています 。
kono hatake dewa mugi wo tsukutteimasu .
this field is from wheat made
We're growing wheat in this field.
  • Comparing to a previous one, this one is snap.
  • Except new to me usage of "dewa" as "made of "
  • Except polite present progressive tsukutte imasu.

その わん は じもと の しょくにん によって つくられた 。
sono wan wa jimoto no shokunin niyotte tsukurareta .
The bowl was made by a local craftsman.
  • again, ~ta form of "new-born" tsukurareru (passive make = made) verb
  • and another one below:

この ペン は とり の はね で つくられて います
kono pen ha tori no hane de tsukurarete imasu
This pen is made from a bird's feather.
  • Following two sentences show difference between tsukuraremasu and tsukurimasu clearly.
けっこん する と あたらしい こせき が つくられます 。
kekkon suru to atarashii koseki ga tsukuraremasu .
A new family register is made when a couple marry.

そぼ は つけもの を じぶん で つくります
sobo ha tsukemono wo jibun de tsukurimasu
My grandmother makes her own pickles.
  • while family record is passive and "made = tsukuraremasu", grandmother is active and "makes=tsukurimasu", same below
うどん は こむぎこ から つくられます 。
udon ha komugiko kara tsukuraremasu .
Udon noodles are made from flour.

かのじょ は まごころ を こめて かれ に ケーキ を つくった よ 。
kanojo ha magokoro wo komete kare ni ke-ki wo tsukutta yo .
She put her heart into baking him a cake.
  • Next is a sentence ending with yo:
ゆうしょく に わふう パスタ を つくった よ 。
yuushoku ni wafuu pasuta wo tsukutta yo .
I made Japanese-style pasta for supper.
  • Yo is usually used at the end of a short phrase or sentence. Its nuances are not easy to define, but it generally has two purposes: to emphasize an action, or to brag about one. Note: As in English, to correctly use the "brag" version you have to keep a straight, "no big deal" face.
Well, this exercise main result is that it shows I missed Passive or Respectful Expression form of japanese verbs. I need to learn it!

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