Ep. 3 Commentary - Diego Self-Intro


Dialogue

ディエゴ:

はじめまして。こんにちは。
Hello.

ディエゴと申します。
ディエゴ と もうします。
My name is Diego.

()大学院()国際開発()勉強()しています。
いま は だいがくいん で こくさいかいはつ を べんきょう しています。
I’m currently in graduate school studying international development.

趣味()読書()です。
しゅみ は どくしょ です。
My hobby is reading.

()しくお()いします。
よろしく おねがい します。
Nice to meet you.

司会:

ひとつ質問()いいですか?
ひとつ しつもん い ですか?
Excuse me, would it be alright to ask you a question?

ディエゴ:

質問()?はい、いいですよ。
しつもん? はい、 いい です よ。
A question? Yes, that’s fine.

司会:

ディエゴさんは日本人()ですか?
ディエゴさん は にほんじん です か?
Are you Japanese?

ディエゴ:

はい。日本人()です。
はい。 にほんじん です。
Yes. I’m Japanese.

司会:

両親()もですか?
ごりょうしん も です か?
What about your parents?

ディエゴ:

()さんがメキシコ人で、お父さんが日本人です。
おかあさん が メキシコじん で、 おとうさん が にほんじん です。
My mother is Mexican, and my father is Japanese.

司会:

ハーフなんですね。
So you’re half-Japanese.

ディエゴ:

はいそうですけど。
Well, yeah, technically.


Commentary Transcript

In this video we meet Diego. Let’s take a look at the first line:

ディエゴ:

はじめまして。こんにちは。
Hello.

So we’ve already seen both of these words. はじめまして is, directly, “Hi (for the first time),” often getting translated to “Nice to meet you.” Then we have こんにちは, which the actual word for “Hello” in Japanese. Although it feels strange to me personally, it’s quite common to say both of these together. Also, either order is fine. So feel free to change up your self-intro sometimes with a little こんにちは action.

Okay, moving forward…

ディエゴ:

ディエゴと申します。
ディエゴ と もうします。
My name is Diego.

So in Toby’s self-intro, he just said トビです, which is something like “I’m Toby.” Another option or saying your name, though, is Name + と申します. 申します is a very old (and if I’m not mistaken, somewhat outdated), formal way to say “to say.” I pretty much only ever here it when people are introducing themselves, such as in this example. A direct translation of ディエゴと申します is probably something like “I am called Diego,” but it just means “My name is Diego,” or even just “I’m Diego.” It has a slightly more formal ring to it than Name + です, but both are very common. Just go with whichever one feels better to you personally.

ディエゴ:

()大学院()国際開発()勉強()しています。
いま は だいがくいん で こくさいかいはつ を べんきょう しています。
I’m currently in graduate school studying international development

So this is a pretty difficult sentence, but those are inevitable in Japanese. In Toby’s introduction, he talked about his job as an English teacher. Diego, though, is a student, and he mentions his studies instead. First, here’s a vocab check:

  • 今は is “(as for) now”
  • 大学院で is “at graduate school”
  • 国際開発 is “international development”
  • を is marking 国際開発 as the direct object
  • 勉強しています is “am studying”
  • 質問
  • いいですか
  • Question
  • Is ok?

  • 質問? (A) question?
  • はい、 Yes,
  • いいですよ that’s fine

  • お母さん
  • メキシコ人
  • お父さん
  • 日本人
  • です
  • mother
  • [identifying particle]
  • Mexican
  • is, and
  • father
  • [identifying particle]
  • Is

  • 彼女はメキシコ人。が、彼は日本人だ。
    She is Mexican. BUT he is Japanese.

If we put all of that together, we get “Now I’m studying international development at graduate school.” Or, using the translation that I wrote in the PDF, “I’m currently in graduate school studying international development.”

If you’re in an undergraduate program, then you can just drop the 院 off of 大学院 (“graduate school”), making it “university.” Then you could switch out 国際開発 for whatever your major might be…

(今は)大学(院)で [Major] を 勉強しています

So if your major was “Literature,” then you could put:

(今は)大学(院)で 文学 を 勉強しています

There’s also a simpler way to say this, which would be simply 専門は文学です, “My major is literature.” However, I think that this option is only viable if the listener already knows that you’re a college student. So if you’re in a Japanese class in college, then this makes sense, but something like Diego says would be better if giving a self-introduction in a non-school setting.

Next, we have…

ディエゴ:

趣味()読書()です。
しゅみ は どくしょ です。
My hobby is reading.

We saw almost the same exact sentence in Toby’s self-introduction, where he said 趣味は料理です “My hobby is cooking.” Here, though, instead of 料理, “cooking,” Diego says 読書, “reading.”

Then he says…

ディエゴ:

()しくお()いします。
よろしく おねがい します。
Nice to meet you.

I think we’ve seen this phrase about four or five times now in the handful of videos that we’ve looked at so far. So, yeah, I’m gonna skip any long explanations and just say that it means “Nice to meet you.”

As soon as Diego finishes his self-introduction, though, someone off-screen starts asking him questions, presumably an interviewer of some sort. The name I gave him in the script is 司会, which means something like “host” or “moderator.”

Here’s the conversation that he and Diego have, in full:

司会:

ひとつ質問()いいですか?
ひとつ しつもん いい ですか?
Excuse me, would it be alright to ask you a question?

ディエゴ:

質問()?はい、いいですよ。
つもん? はい、 いい です よ。
A question? Yes, that’s fine.

司会:

ディエゴさんは日本人()ですか?
ディエゴさん は にほんじん です か?
Are you Japanese?

ディエゴ:

はい。日本人()です。
はい。 にほんじん です。
Yes. I’m Japanese.

司会:

両親()もですか?
ごりょうしん も です か?
What about your parents?

ディエゴ:

()さんがメキシコ()で、お父さんが日本人()です。
おかさん が メキシコじん で、 おとうさん が にほんじん です。
My mother is Mexican and my father is Japanese.

司会:

ハーフなんですね。
ハーフ なんですね。
So you’re half-Japanese.

ディエゴ:

はいそうですけど。
Well, yeah, technically.

At the very beginning, the host breaks in by saying…

司会:

ひとつ質問()いいですか?
ひとつ しつもん いい ですか?
Excuse me, would it be alright to ask you a question?

Before we look at ひとつ, let’s look at the second half of this sentence, where we have

In the translation, I changed this to “Would it be alright to ask you a question?” Quite a bit longer, yeah? I think that if the 司会, the moderator, had said asked this as a full question, it would have been 質問してもいいですか, which would match up more as a direct translation of “Would it be alright to ask you a question?”

When I was first writing the notes for this lesson, I wrote that this was short for 質問を聞いてもいいですか, but then I was told by my native editor that the verb 聞く, “to ask,” does not go with the noun 質問. I had never known this… although I did realize that that’s definitely the case after it was said to me. We don’t 聞く a question. Instead, we する a question. So this full, unspoken sentence is 質問してもいいですか, and the casual version would be… 質問していい?

Anyways, let’s look at this first word, ひとつ. Some of you might know that 一つ means one (thing)… sometimes. For example, 一つを食べた, “I ate one (something).” I don’t want to talk about counters in this lesson, though, as that’s a nightmare for another day. Instead, I want to look at a completely different usage of the word ひとつ, which we’re seeing in this sentence.

The first time that I wrote this sentence, I didn’t write ひとつ. I think I actually wrote something like あの..., which would translate to something like “Um…” and is a way to break in and ask someone something. Saying あの..., though, if I’m not mistaken, sounds a bit more like being unsure of what you’re about to say. Saying ひとつ has more of an air of “Excuse me, (I’m trying to but in and say something)…”

I’ve seen Japanese people translate this ひとつ a bit unnaturally into sentences like, “I have one question…” or “Could I ask one question…” Those English sentences are correct, but I think that ひとつ has less of a nuance of “1 thing” and more of a nuance of “1 moment… (for you to listen to me).” But, yeah, either translation is probably fine.

You can just remember ひとつ as a (somewhat formal) way to interrupt someone or get someone’s attention when you want to ask a question. First say ひとつ, then say something like 質問いいですか.

Diego responds with…

ディエゴ:

質問()?はい、いいですよ。
しつもん? はい、 いい です よ。
A question? Yes, that’s fine

This is a nice straightforward sentence.

Casually, he’d probably just change はい to うん and drop off the です

質問?うん、いいよ

Question? Yeah. Good.

Simple enough, right? Whoever said Japanese was hard? And the host then hits Diego with a nice, clean question in the form of AはBですか, which we see a bunch of times in the Bunkai Beast Grammar Guide…

司会:

ディエゴさんは日本人()ですか?
ディエゴさん は にほんじん です か?
Are you Japanese?

Mr. Diego は Japanese ですか

And that becomes “Are you Japanese?” If this type of sentence is still causing you problems, then please go read the Bunkai Beast Grammar Guide, because completely mastering this construction gives you a huge control over the Japanese language.

Next, Diego comes back with a nice, curt, (though still formal) answer:

ディエゴ:

はい。日本人()です。
はい。 にほんじん です。
Yes. I’m Japanese.

Literally, this is “Yes. (I) Japanese am.” à “Yes. I’m Japanese.”

The host isn’t satisfied, though, and he asks a second question…

司会:

両親(もですか?
ごりょうしん も です か?
What about your parents?

両親 means “(both) parents,” and here we again see a ご attached to the front to make it more formal, as we did a few videos back when the server was taking drink orders. Adding ご to the front of words is a formal construction, however, it’s also common to put ご on the front of this word in particular, 両親, as it shows respect not so much to the listener, but rather to the 両親, to the “parents” themselves.

So for example, even if you’re talking to a good friend, you might ask something like ご両親はどこに住んでんの? The second half of that sentence is really informal, as 住んでいますか is shortened to 住んでいるの? is shortened to 住んでるの? is shortened to 住んでんの? However, at the front, we still have this particle ご attached to 両親 for formality. You don’t really have to, and it would be okay to just say 両親はどこに住んでんの? But I like to say ご両親. I mean, we should always be polite to our friends’ parents, right?

Word-for-word, this sentence, ご両親もですか is “(Honorable) Parents // also // is // [question]. The unspoken word here is 日本人, as the host is actually asking ご両親も日本人ですか, “Are your parents also Japanese?” Or, the way I translated it in the PDF was “What about your parents?”

If you haven’t already noticed, Diego is not too fond of this question, and he answers it as though he’s answered it many times before…

ディエゴ:

()さんがメキシコ()で、お父さんが日本人()です。
おかあさん が メキシコじん で、 おとうさん が にほんじん です。
My mother is Mexican, and my father is Japanese.

Making that into a sentence, we get “My mother is Mexican, and my father is Japanese. There is only really one new thing in this sentence, with his this で. In the word-for-word breakdown, I translated this to “is, and.” Basically it is the same thing as です, only it’s also being used as a conjunction this compound sentence.

Some of you might be wondering my we say お母さんが and お父さんが. The fancy grammar explanation that I’d give is that がis an identifier particle, so Diego is using it to point, in a way, “My mother is Mexican, and my father is Japanese.” A much more honest (and somewhat embarrassing) answer, is that I don’t know 100% why が is natural, because the first time I wrote this sentence, I put は, and then my Japanese editor told me to change it to が. *Shame*

I think that the reason that I wrote this sentence originally is that I was thinking of these two as a contrast, and は is typically the particle of choice when we need a contrastive marker. For example, if I wanted to say, “She is Mexican, but he is Japanese,” and the reason that I’m saying this is to express that these two people are of different nationalities, then I could say:

Diego is not trying to express contrast, though. Instead, he’s just point out two facts as part of an explanation. “My mother is Mexican, and my father is Japanese.”

So, yeah, I’m still working on mastering the difference between は and が, too. We’ll get there someday. Fight-O!

Then the host says…

司会:

ハーフなんですね。
So you’re half-Japanese.

Before anything, I should explain this word ハーフ, a bit more. This is a somewhat controversial word in Japan. If you look at it origins, it’s not hard to guess why: It means “half-(blood).” Although people nowadays say it means “half-Japanese,” trying to make it sound nicer. I’m not convinced, though, because here “Japanese” is talking about Japanese-like genetic makeup. So, yeah, it means “half-(blood),” and it’s actually a pretty common word in Japanese.

If you want to learn more about it, there is a TED talk floating around on the internet by someone who is ハーフ. Just go on YouTube and type “half Japanese TED talk Megumi Nishikura.”

Culturally, this does not seem to be a taboo word in Japanese culture, and that’s why this host uses that word when asking this question to Diego. This is not, technically, a “rude” sentence in Japanese. But it’s also something that those labeled as ハーフ, like Diego, often get tired of hearing.

Anyways, let’s get back to grammar. The host says ハーフなんですね. I translated this to “So you’re half-Japanese.”

The part of this sentence that I want to look at more in-depth is なん. It took me forever to start using this in Japanese. I just didn’t understand it for some reason, and I probably would have just written ハーフですね back in the day. But it’s probably more natural (at least, in this situation) to add なん.

なん expresses both interest and discovery. It sounds like the speaker is saying “You’re half-Japanese (and now I understand that).” In the translation, I just put “So you’re half-Japanese.”

Most students of Japanese don’t take long to learn the phrase そうですか, which gets translated to stuff like “Is that so?” Well, saying そうなんですか means pretty much the same thing: “Is that so?” But it has more of a nuance that the speaker has learned some new information.

In casual situations, when you learn something about someone or something, and you want to show that you find this new information interesting, you can say そうなんだ! “Oh, really? (How interesting!)” // “Is that so? (How interesting!)”

Sorry if that explanation doesn’t have enough information to get it clear in your mind, but you should be able to get a sense of the usage of なん in time, with lots of Japanese exposure. Just keep your ears open, and the wheels in your head moving. Everything will come together eventually.

ディエゴ:

はいそうですけど。
Well, yeah, technically.

Word-for-word, Diego responds with “Yes, that’s right, but.”

I translated this to “Well, yeah, technically.” And I had a hard time even getting to that translation.

I’m not sure if you remember, but way back in the explanation video for the first video, where Toby and Diego meet at the station, Diego said, “今改札前だけど” and I explained how there is a full, unspoken sentence coming after けど, something like “今改札前だけど...トビはどこ?”

Well, here again, we have けど marking a full, unspoken sentence. This time, however, I can’t say for sure what this full sentence is, and it would be hard to know without getting into Diego’s head. Taking a guess, it might be something like…

はいそうですけど、日本人です
“Yes, I’m ‘half-Japanese,’ but I’m still Japanese.”

I can’t imagine a Japanese person saying that entire sentence, though, because it would sound so direct. Confrontational, even. So Diego leaves out whatever it is he’s thinking of putting after けど, and a Japanese person would understand that he means something like this, but he’s just not saying what it is. So that’s why in English, I put, “Well, yeah, technically… (but… blah blah blah).

People love to talk about how Japanese people avoid saying things, and they’re so indirect and non-confrontational and all that. And, yeah, I kind of agree. But in his own way, Diego is saying something here. He’s leaving words out of his sentence, but Japanese people understand how that sentence works, and as a result they feel that he’s something that, in a way, is confrontational. Just in a soft, Japanese-like way. Maybe…

Thanks. See you next time…

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