Ep. 1 Commentary - Meeting at the Station: Part 2 "Sono Taoru"


Dialogue

トビ:

みんなはどこ?
Where is everybody?

ディエゴ:

まだみたい。
Looks like they’re not here yet.

トビ:

そっか。
Oh (I see.)

()それ?
なに それ?
What is that?

ディエゴ:

それって?
What’s what?

トビ:

そのタオル。
That towel.

ディエゴ:

これ?マフラーだよ
This? It’s a scarf.

トビ:

それがマフラー?
That’s a scarf?

ディエゴ:

()たり()じゃん。
あたりまえ じゃん。
(Yeah,) obviously.

トビ:

ふ~ん。
Hmmm.

ディエゴ:

なんだよ?!
What?!

トビ:

べつに。
Nothing.

ディエゴ:

もしもし?
Hello?

()いた?
ついた?
Are you here?

うん、今改札前()だよ。
うん、 いま かいさつまえ だ よ。
Yeah, I’m in front of the ticket gates.

はいは~い。
OK, cool.


Commentary Transcript

トビ:

みんなはどこ?
Where is everybody?

ディエゴ:

まだみたい。
Looks like they’re not here yet.

トビ:

そっか。
Oh (I see.)

So the first thing that Toby says to Diego after he arrives is みんなはどこ? Now this is a super casual way of asking where everyone is. This is a 合コン(ごうこん), so there are supposed to be a few more people.

みんな means “everyone,” and in this case it’s referring to everyone that’s joining the drinking party.

どこ means “where.”

So really all Toby is saying is “Everyone where?” or “Everybody where?” which I translated into English as “Where is everybody?” Maybe you can see why I’m always saying that Japanese, especially casual Japanese, is so simple.

Diego also responds with a very simplified, casual phrase, when he says まだみたい.

まだ usually gets translated to “yet” or “still.” For the purposes of this dialog, let’s say that it means “still.”

みたい is a very important word to know in Japanese. It’s used to say that something looks or seems to be a certain way. As far as I know, みたい can only come after the plain form of verbs, nouns, or na-adjectives.

So for example, if we had the word 雨, which means “rain,” or the sentence 雨が降る(あめ が ふる) “it is or will rain” (Literally “rain falls”), then all of the following would be okay…

Noun plus mitai would be:
雨みたい (あめ みたい)“it looks like rain”

Plain present or future affirmative tense verb plus mitai would be:
雨が降るみたい (あめ が ふる みたい)“it looks like it’s going to rain”

Plain present or future negative plus mitai would be :
雨が降らないみたい (あめ が ふらない みたい)“it looks like it’s not going to rain”

Plain past tense verb plus mitai would be
雨が降ったみたい (あめ が ふった みたい)“it looks like it rained”

But Diego says まだみたい, and まだ is an adverb, right? Well, there are two answers to this problem.

One answer is that dictionaries say that まだ is also a na-adjective, so it’s no problem to snap みたい onto it. I think that answer is a cop-out, personally, and I like answer #2 much better, which is that in this sentence みたい is not referring to the adverb まだ. Instead, it’s referring to the unspoken part of the sentence that Diego is leaving out, because he’s having a casual conversation, and context is compensating for him.

A fuller version of Diego’s sentence is actually something like this:

まだ来てないみたい。
まだ きて (い)ない みたい。
still + haven't come + looks like

He doesn’t need to say みんなは, because that’s already the topic of the sentence.

Anyways, if we look at this example, then みたい is actually attached to 来てない, which means that it’s attached to the auxiliary verb いる in the plain present negative tense. In normal English, that just means that みたい is actually latching onto ~ない, so that’s why it’s okay to say this sentence like this.

I want to point out that in these super casual situations, Japanese people will leave out as many words as they possibly can while still being understood. Sure it’s okay to say everything in order to ensure understanding, but it’s not very common in this type of situation, where we can use something as simple as まだみたい “still / looks like” in order to say “it looks like they’re not here yet.”

まだみたい is actually the shortened version of
まだ来てないみたい, and that’s actually the shortened version of
まだ来ていないみたい, where we include the full form of the auxiliary verb いない

Just as a quiz for everyone watching, how do you think Diego would say this formally? There are two ways that I can think of. One is as simple as sticking a です onto the end of it: まだ来ていないみたいです “It looks like they’re not here yet.”

Another way would be to say something like まだ来ていないようです. It would appear that they’re not here yet. If you’re not familiar with ~よう, don’t worry about it, because we can look at it some other time.

One last thing about みたい that I’d like to point out is a mistake that I see non-native speakers making all the time. And to be perfectly honest, it’s a mistake that I myself made quite often until a Japanese person finally corrected me.

If we are saying けど, “but,” at the end of a sentence, then we need to put a だ between みたいand けど

For example, if I wanted to say something like:

まだみたいけど、[something]

...then I have to insert a だ:

まだみたいけど.

However, if みたい is the last word of my sentence, then I shouldn’t put だ after it. This is why Diego only says まだみたい. He does not say まだみたいだ.

Finally, Toby responds by saying そっか. This just means “Oh,” or “Is that so?” asked rhetorically. It is a shortened version of そうか, which is a shortened version of そうですか.

そっか is very casual, so be sure to only use it in casual situations.


Diego’s scarf

Next, let’s look at the part where Toby and Diego talk about Diego’s scarf:

トビ:

()それ?
なに それ?
What is that?

ディエゴ:

それって?
What’s what?

トビ:

そのタオル。
That towel.

ディエゴ:

これ?マフラーだよ。
This? It’s a scarf.

トビ:

それがマフラー?
That’s a scarf?

ディエゴ:

()たり()じゃん。
あたりまえ じゃん。
(Yeah,) obviously.

トビ:

ふ~ん。
Hmmm.

ディエゴ:

なんだよ?!
What?!

トビ:

べつに。
Nothing.

Toby starts this next part of the conversation rather rudely by saying 何それ?

何 means “what” and それ means “that,” so if we translated this directly, he would simply be saying “What that?” If we wanted to say that in English without sounding like cavemen, we’d probably say something like “What is that?”

As with the rest of this dialogue, this is very casual language. If Toby were being more formal, he’d probably say:

それは何ですか?
それ は なん ですか?

One of the first things that they often teach in introductory Japanese courses is the difference between これ、それ、and あれ. If I remember correctly, my first-ever Japanese class spent way too much time on this. I’ll see if I can explain all of it in fifteen seconds or so.

これ means “this.” So if Toby were talking about something that was right next to him, then he might say 何これ?(なにこれ?

それ means “that,” but “that” has to be something that’s near the listener. Toby is referring to Diego’s scarf, which is very close to Diego (on him actually), and that’s why he says 何それ?(なにそれ?

あれ means something like “that over there,” and we use this anytime that we want to say “that,” but “that” is not near the listener. So if Toby were pointing to something that was not near Diego, for example something that’s twenty meters away, then he’d say 何あれ?(なにあれ?

Okay, I think that was longer than fifteen seconds. Sorry. I tried.

Diego responds by saying それって?

Anytime you see って latched onto something, it can help to imagine that it’s acting as a set of quotation marks for whatever came before it. That’s why, in the translation, I wrote “What’s what?”

Diego is essentially quoting Toby’s それ and putting a question mark on it.

There is so much that I could say about って, as it has quite a huge number of applications in Japanese. However, I’m going to introduce them in pieces as we work our way through the story. For now, all we need to do is picture some quotation marks anytime we see it.

Here’s the next line of the conversation:

ディエゴ:

それって?
What’s what?

トビ:

そのタオル。
That towel.

A minute ago we looked at これ、それ、and あれ. “This,” “That,” and “That over there.” All of these are pronouns. In other words, they are substitutes for other nouns. For example, we could make these three sentences, using the word 高い (たかい), which means “tall, high, or expensive.” In this example it means “expensive.”

これは高い / This is expensive.
それは高い/ That is expensive.
あれは高い/ That over there is expensive.

Here これ, this、それ, that、and あれ, that over there, are all being used as pronouns. Here is what would happen if we used them as adjectives modifying the word テレビ (“TV”):

このテレビは高い / This TV is expensive.
そのテレビは高い / That TV is expensive.
あのテレビは高い / That TV over there is expensive.

This can be tricky for non-native Japanese speakers, because you’ll notice that in English, the words “this, that, and that over there” don’t change, but in Japaneseこれ、それ、and あれ all change to この、その、あの

Toby is clarifying what he meant by the vague pronoun それ when he said 何それ? “What’s that?” Specifically, he clarifies by saying そのタオル, “That towel.”

Diego responds by saying:

ディエゴ:

これ?マフラーだよ。
This? It’s a scarf.

This? It’s a scarf. Literally, “this? / scarf / is / [assertion]”

If you’re wondering why they say “マフラー” (also the word for “muffler”) for “scarf” in Japanese, I have no idea. I tried to look up the word origin, but I couldn’t find anything. It’s okay to say スカーフ also, but I think that it’s more common to hear people say マフラー.

NOTE! When I first made these videos, my uncouth American upbringing had not yet introduced me to the fact that the word "muffler" is used for "scarf" in some English-speaking counties. Further, I recently learned that the word マフラー is used to refer to a scarf that keeps you warm, but the word スカーフ is for thin scarves that are just for looks.

On another note, for a good example of the difference between これ and それ, we can just look at this back-and-forth between Diego and Toby:

ディエゴ:

これ?マフラーだよ。
This? It’s a scarf.

トビ:

それがマフラー?
That’s a scarf?

Diego says これ?マフラーだよ, This? It’s a scarf.

Then Toby responds by saying それがマフラー? That’s a scarf?

これ, this. それ, that.

Something that’s not nearly as easy to explain is why Toby includes the particle が in his sentence.

I could try to explain everything I know about the particle が here, and this video would start getting really long. Instead, I urge you to go and look at the Bunkai Beast guide, which breaks down this type of usage of が in extreme detail.

The short, fifteen-second explanation of が here goes something like this:

が is an identifier particle. In a way, you could think of が as a finger that’s pointing at whatever word comes directly before it, giving it emphasis and clarifying its existence.

We don’t really have any equivalent of が in the English language, but I translated it by putting “that” into italics. Toby’s not saying ‘That’s a scarf?’ Instead, he’s saying “That’s a scarf?” It’s kind of like he’s saying, “You’re trying to tell me that that’s a scarf?”

It’s a pretty rude thing to say, and that’s why Diego gets angry and says:

当たり前じゃん!
あたりまえじゃん!

当たり前 is a really versatile word, but for the most part is means something like “natural; obvious; of course.”

じゃん is a shortened version of じゃない? Technically it means something like “~isn’t it?” Or we could even translate it to “~right?” It’s extremely common in casual Japanese, especially in Tokyo. I’ll come back to this in a second, but for a moment let’s go back and look at 当たり前 some more.

The word 当たり has a ton of uses in Japanese. I’m not going to look at all of them here, though. Basically, the 当たり means “to hit on,” but we can use the nuance of this phrase “to hit on” in a number of ways. For example, if someone is trying to answer a difficult question, and then they get it right, we can tell them 当たり!(あたり), which means “Correct” or “You got it right!” In other words… “You hit on the correct answer.”

前 (まえ) means "before" or "in front of." So something “obvious,” 当たり前 is something that you “hit on” right “in front of you.” Or at least, that’s one way to remember when this means.

When I was looking up the origins of this word, I saw one explanation that said that 当たり前 kind of evolved from the word 当然 (とうぜん), which means “naturally,” or “of course,” and it has very similar uses to the word 当たり前. I want to say that they’re interchangeable, but I don’t know for sure. Anyways, the explanation that I read of the word origin for 当たり前 was that the on-yomi of 前 is “zen,” so 当然 became 当前 (not a word), which became 当たり前 (the kun-yomi reading). I’m not totally convinced, though, and I still prefer my meaning of “hitting on something right in front of you” → “obvious”

Although you see 当たり前 in a lot of different sentences, it is extremely common to see it attached to じゃん. Like I said before, じゃん is short for じゃない? What I didn’t say before is that じゃん is one of the words that I misuse the most frequently in Japanese. I’m getting better, but my usage still isn’t perfect. Here’s the problem…

じゃん is used to mean “right?” “Isn’t that so?” However, we only say it when the listener should agree with us. In other words, Diego is saying 当たり前じゃん, because he thinks that Toby has more than enough information to understand that it is a scarf, not a towel.

The mistake that I most often make with じゃん is using it when the listener does not have enough information to reasonably agree with what I’m saying. That is, to say “Yeah,” in response to my “isn’t that so?/ right?” question.

For example, let’s say that I’m talking to someone, and they ask me (quite genuinely), “Why don’t you live in Daikanyama?” 「なんで代官山に住まないの?」(「なんで だいかんやま に すまない の?」

Note: This is a genuine question. In other words, it's not a suggestion. The person asking seems genuinely interested why the listener is not living in Daikanyama. As such, it's not a question you'd be likely to hear in most situations. We can understand that it's a genuine question because it has the particle の at the end of it.

Assuming that this person also lives in Tokyo, then I could say 「高いじゃん!」 “It’s (too) expensive, right?” I’m expecting that they understand that Daikanyama is too expensive for me to live in.

However, what if I’m talking to someone that has only been in Tokyo for 1 day, and they don’t know anything about Tokyo at all? In this case, it would be strange to say 「高いじゃん!」because they don’t reasonably know that Daikanyama is expensive.

Instead, I should say something that actually explains this:

代官山が高すぎるから。
だいかんやま が たかすぎる から。
Daikanyama is too expensive.

(By the way, if these sentence are too difficult right now, don’t worry about them. You can always come back and look at them again after leveling up a bit.)

In this way, maybe it would help to think of ~じゃん as meaning “as you (should) know,” only in a casual, blunt way.

So when Diego says 「当たり前じゃん!」, he’s saying “Obviously (it’s a scarf), (as you should know),” which in the translation I’ve cut down to just “(Yeah,) obviously.”

Toby responds by saying:

トビ:

ふ~ん。
Hmmm.

This is just one of those weird sounds that Japanese people make when they’re responding to something.

You can get a sense for this phrase by practicing with the shadow looping track, which sounds like this:

Toby starts laughing at Diego, and this follows…

ディエゴ:

なんだよ?!
What?!

トビ:

べつに。
Nothing.

なんだよ?! Broken down this means “what” “is” “[assertion] (or maybe we should say [emphasis] here).

I could go into a lot of detail as to why Diego says なんだよ?! But I’ll save that talk for another time. Instead, just try to remember なんだよ?! As a way to ask “What?!” In an angry, almost-accusing tone.

Toby responds by saying べつに

べつに means something like “(not) especially” or “(not) in particular.”

Technically 別 means something like “separate.” Which here we’re changing to “particular” or “special.”

If we were going to make this into a full sentence, it’d probably be

別に何でもないよ。
べつに なんでも ない よ。
Particularly / anything / not / [assertion]

Which becomes “It’s not anything in particular.”

Luckily for us, though, we don’t have to worry about making big long sentences, because it’s quite common to just strip down these sentences to only say べつに, in which the nuance is “Nothing (in particular).” My translation was べつに

If you ever get caught daydreaming, or thinking something that you don’t want to share, and the person with you asks what’s going on in your head, you can coolly respond with べつに, “nothing really.”

With this, we’re now officially through the second part of this dialogue. Nice!

I hope it was helpful and not entirely confusing.

See you in the next video.

Discussion

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