Ep. 8 Commentary - Kanako & Kenta


Dialogue

ケンタ:

カナコちゃんはディエゴと知り合い?
カナコちゃん は ディエゴ と しりあい?
You’re friends with Diego?

カナコ:

うん。あたしとディエゴとミキは大学のときみんな同じサークルだったの。
うん。 あたし と ディエゴ と ミキ は だいがく の とき みんな おなじ サークル だった の。
Yeah, he and Miki and I were all in the same club in college.

ケンタ:

ヘ~大学からの友達なんだ。
へ~ だいがく から の ともだち なんだ。
Really? So you’re friends from college.

なんのサークル?
What club were you in?

カナコ:

撮影サークル。
さつえいサークル。
Photography club.

ケンタ:

じゃあ写真撮るの上手なの?
じゃあ しゃしん とる の じょうず なの?
So are you good at taking photos, then?

カナコ:

全然。
ぜんぜん。
Not at all.

ケンタくんもディエゴの友達でしょ?
ケンタくん も ディエゴ の ともだち でしょ?
You’re friends with Diego, too, right?

ケンタ:

うん。一緒にスペイン語のレッスンを受けてるんだ。
うん。 いっしょ に スペインご の レッスン を うけてる んだ。
Yeah. We take Spanish lessons together.

カナコ:

え?でもディエゴはもうペラペラじゃない?
Huh? But isn’t Diego already fluent (in Spanish)?

ケンタ:

日常会話は大丈夫なんだけどもっと上達したいんだって。
にちじょうかいわ は だいじょうぶ なんだけど もっと じょうたつ したい んだって。
He said that everyday conversation is no problem, but that he still wants to improve.

カナコ:

ディエゴは完璧主義だからね。
ディエゴ は かんぺきしゅぎ だから ね。
It’s because he’s a perfectionist.

ケンタ:

そうなの?知らなかった。
そうなの?しらなかった。
Really? I didn’t know that.


Commentary Transcript

This video is pretty short, so maybe it won’t take us too long to get through the whole thing. In it, Kenta and Kanako are talking. It starts with Kenta saying…

ケンタ:

カナコちゃんはディエゴと知り合い?
カナコちゃん は ディエゴ と しりあい?
You’re friends with Diego?

  • Kanako-chan
  • Wa
  • With Diego
  • Acquaintance

Translated literally, “You and Diego are acquaintances?” But in the dialogue I wrote the English as “You’re friends with Diego?”

Notice that it says ディエゴと知り合い? And it’s being translated as “friends with Diego.” It would also be okay to say ディエゴの知り合い, and that would probably get translated as something like “one of Diego’s friends?” Or it’d probably just be okay to keep the same English translation in both cases, “friends with Diego.” The main important thing is to know that it’s okay to say either と or の here.

Kanako answers his question saying…

カナコ:

うん。あたしとディエゴとミキは大学のときみんな同じサークルだったの。
うん。 あたし と ディエゴ と ミキ は だいがく の とき みんな おなじ サークル だった の。
Yeah, he and Miki and I were all in the same club in college.

This is kind of a long sentence, but if we break it down word-for-word, it’s pretty simple.

  • Yeah
  • I
  • And
  • Diego
  • And
  • Miki
  • Wa
  • In college
  • Everyone
  • Same
  • Club
  • Were
  • No

Put that all together, and we get “Yeah, he and Miki and I were all in the same club in college.

I’m pretty sure that there’s only one word here that we haven’t seen before, which is サークル. This is 和製英語(わせいえいご) (made-in-Japan English), from the word “circle,” and it means “club.” I’ve never met a college student in Japan that wasn’t in a “circle.” Also, sometimes I get the feeling that no one is Japan is studying in college. Instead, it seems like everybody is just working part-time jobs, drinking, and hanging out with the people in their サークル. I’m sure some of them are studying, though… maybe.

One more thing to note here is the way that Kanako ends this sentence with の. Guys out there should be careful, because this sounds very feminine. Saying の at the end of a sentence is okay for guys if you’re asking a question, but for declarative sentences (i.e. sentences that aren’t questions), の is reserved for girls. If a guy were saying this sentence, instead of だったの, he could say XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX???

Kenta responds by saying…

ケンタ:

ヘ~大学からの友達なんだ。
へ~ だいがく から の ともだち なんだ。
Really? So you’re friends from college.

This sentence here is, “Really? So you’re friends from college.” When I originally wrote this Japanese sentence, I didn’t include the word から, but then a native speaker told me that I should add it. They’re not “college friends,” (大学の友達) after all, but instead, they’re “friends from college,” (大学からの)because now they’re all graduated.

Two more things about this sentence. First, you should listen to the shadow track and practice this first sound へ~, which is translated here as “really,” because it’s such common reaction in Japanese.

Second, we’ve seen なんだ before, but I should point out that the English is getting translated to, “So you’re friends from college.” This “so” is coming from なんだ. It would be strange if Kenta just said 大学の友達だ, because that would mean that this sentence is not serving as an answer to anything. But it’s actually an answer to Kenta’s previous question, when he asked Kanako how or if she knew Diego. By adding なんだ to the end of this sentence, Kenta expresses the nuance that he has acquired new (and interesting) information.

Then he continues with…

ケンタ:

なんのサークル?
What club were you in?

  • What
  • no
  • club

Translated all together as “What club were you in?”

And Kanako answers by saying:

カナコ:

撮影サークル。
さつえいサークル。
Photography club.

撮影 means “photography,” so that’s why this gets translated to “photography club.” I think that the full version of this would be 撮影のサークル, but I’ve never actually heard a Japanese person put the particle の between the type of activity and the word サークル

Kenta responds with…

ケンタ:

じゃあ写真撮るの上手なの?
じゃあ しゃしん とる の じょうず なの?
So are you good at taking photos, then?

  • Then
  • Photo
  • Take
  • No
  • Skilled
  • Na no?

Translated to: “So are you good at taking photos, then?”

上手 means “skilled” or “good at,” and it always refers to a noun. For example, if you’re in Japan for about forty-five seconds or so, and you manage to say こんにちは to someone with even a 10% natural accent, they will probably say something like: 日本語(にほんご)[が]お上手ですね

Here, though, we don’t have a noun. Instead we have the verb 撮る, which means “to take (photos),” but it’s made into a noun by placing の after it.

It would also be okay to put こと after 撮る. Here it is written that way, along with the dropped particles を and が getting put back into the sentence: じゃあ、写真を撮ることが上手なの?However, personally I think that that sounds a little less natural. It’s okay, but I hear の more often in casual situations like this. Personally, I almost always just put の after my verbs when I want to make them into nouns.

Anyways, after a while, you’ll probably get a natural feel for both of these. Then you can stop listening to me.

Last but not least, you’ll see that the question is ending with なの? We have already seen that の can be used as a question marker, which is happening here. But why is there な before it? The reason it that 上手 is not a verb, but instead it is a な-adjective. And anytime that a na-adjective is at the end of a question that we want to mark with の we have to slip a な in front of it. The same goes for nouns.

アメリカ人(じん)なの? / “(You’re) American?”

先生(せんせい)なの? / “(She’s) a teacher?”

I’m just guessing the subject of these sentences by the way. I hope you don’t mind.

Kanako responds with…

カナコ:

全然。
ぜんぜん。
Not at all

全然(ぜんぜん) is a super-useful word in Japanese. For one thing, I’ve seen it translated to all of the following:

  • (not) at all
  • Utterly
  • Entirely
  • completely

Here we’re translating it to “Not at all.”

A full, grammatically sound, boring version of this sentence would be 全然上手じゃない, “I’m not good at all,” or even 写真撮るの全然上手ない “I’m not at all good at taking photos.”

But in Japanese, we don’t need to say things that are understandable from context, so Kanako just says 全然, “(not) at all.”

She then continues by asking Kenta a question:

カナコ:

ケンタくんもディエゴの友達でしょ?
ケンタくん も ディエゴ の ともだち でしょ?
You’re friends with Diego, too, right?

  • Kenta-kun
  • Also
  • Diego’s
  • Friend
  • Aren’t you?

è “You’re friends with Diego, too, right?”

Let’s look at でしょ. This is actually a shortened version of でしょう, which gets translated into all kinds of things like “seems; I think; I guess; I wonder; I hope; don’t you agree?; I thought you’d say that!” As if we could remember all of that.

It’s kind of hard to explain the nuance of this, but basically Kanako is expressing that she is pretty sure Kenta and Diego are friends, but also she’s confirming that that’s correct. That’s why I translated it into English as: “You’re friends with Diego, too, right?” Or I could have put “You’re friends with Diego, too, aren’t you?”

If Kanako had said ケンタくんもディエゴの友達だよね, then it would have had pretty much the exact same nuance. It’s an “assertion” and a “request for confirmation” all at the same time.

Dropping the final う to make でしょ instead of でしょう sounds a bit more casual. But they’re really the same. The only difference is that you would write でしょう, because that is the actual word, but the う gets eaten up when speaking.

Kenta then says…

ケンタ:

うん。一緒にスペイン語のレッスンを受けてるんだ。
うん。 いっしょ に スペインご の レッスン を うけてる んだ。
Yeah. We take Spanish lessons together.

  • Yeah
  • Together
  • Spanish
  • No
  • Lessons
  • Wo
  • Taking
  • んだ

Which I translated to: “We take Spanish lessons together.”

一緒に means “together,” and it’s an incredibly common and useful word. So if you don’t know it yet, then you should probably memorize it. It’s an adverb, so we can place it before verbs, such as in 一緒に食べる “to eat together,” or in front of full clauses like in this example 一緒にスペイン語のレッスンを受ける “to take Spanish lessons together.” Also, you can use it without the に at the end, in which case it becomes “the same.” For example AとBは一緒だ , “A and B are the same; A=B.”

Other than that, I think we’ve seen pretty much everything in this sentence. The auxiliary verb is getting shortened from 受けている to 受けてる, and he’s adding んだ to the end, because he’s offering this sentence as an explanation what Kanako said.

But Kanako is surprised to hear that Diego is studying Spanish, and she says…

カナコ:

え?でもディエゴはもうペラペラじゃない?
Huh? But isn’t Diego already fluent (in Spanish)?

  • Huh?
  • But
  • Diego
  • Already
  • Fluent
  • Isn’t he?

è “Huh? But isn’t Diego already fluent (in Spanish)?”

If you remember Diego’s self-introduction, his mother is Mexican, and (presumably) he’s fluent in Spanish as well as in Japanese.

The only word we haven’t seen here is ペラペラ, which is an onomatopoeic word for “fluent.” It’s really easy to use this word, because we can just put it in from of だ anytime we want: 彼はペラペラだ, “He’s fluent.” Or トビは日本語(にほんご)がペラペラだ, “Toby is fluent in Japanese.”

Kenta explains by saying…

ケンタ:

日常会話は大丈夫なんだけどもっと上達したいんだって。
にちじょうかいわ は だいじょうぶ なんだけど もっと じょうたつ したい んだって。
He said that everyday conversation is no problem, but that he still wants to improve.

This is kind of a long sentence, but it’s not too complicated:

  • Everyday conversation
  • Okay; no problem
  • Is
  • But
  • More
  • Wants to improve
  • Is
  • [quotation]

Let’s start with just the first half of this sentence: 日常会話は大丈夫なんだ. “Everyday conversation is no problem.”

The word 日常(にちじょう)means “everyday,” and I pretty much only ever see it attached to either 会話(かいわ), “conversation,” in order to make “everyday conversation,” or I see it attached to 生活(せいかつ), “living; lifestyle,” to make 日常生活(にちじょうせいかつ) “everyday life” or “daily life.”

日常会話 “everyday conversation” is essentially just referring to simple conversations that we use every day. Stuff like talking about the weather, ordering food, whatever. So that’s no problem for Diego, it’s 大丈夫. But! けど! And then we have the second half of this sentence: もっと上達(じょうたつ)したいんだって “He said he wants to improve more.”

Let’s just look at 上達したい. So 上達する means “to improve” or “to get better (at something). And here we have する conjugated to したい. We saw this construction, which means “want to [do],” back in Miki’s self-introduction. Remember that we take the –masu stem of the verb. So する becomes し-, and then we add the auxiliary adjective ~たい to it, and we get ~したい, “want to (do).”

んだ is used, because Kenta is offering an explanation, as we’ve seen multiple times here. And at the end we have って, which, like we saw in the video where Miki, Toby, and Diego met at the station, serves as a kind of “quotation mark,” and it’s getting translated to “he said” in the full English sentence. Last but not least, もっと means more. So putting all that together, we have もっと上達したいんだって, “He said he wants to improve more.”

And when we combine both halves of the sentence, [日常会話(にちじょうかいわ)は大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)なんだけどもっと上達(じょうたつ)したいんだって], then we get “He said that everyday conversation is no problem, but that he still wants to improve.”

Kanako, who knows Diego quite well, responds with…

カナコ:

ディエゴは完璧主義だからね。
ディエゴ は かんぺきしゅぎ だから ね。
It’s because he’s a perfectionist.

完璧主義 might be one of my favorite words in Japanese. 完璧 means “perfect; perfection,” and 主義 means, like “a principle” or “an ‘-ism’.” Put them together and you get a person who’s “principle” is “perfection…” a “perfectionist.”

All the rest we’ve seen before, right?

  • Diego
  • [topic marker]
  • Perfectionist
  • Is
  • Because
  • [you feel me?]

➔ It’s because he’s a perfectionist.

Kenta comes back with…

ケンタ:

そうなの?知らなかった。
そうなの?しらなかった。
Really? I didn’t know that.

  • Is that so?
  • I didn’t know that

I translated this whole thing to “Really? I didn’t know that.” Saying 知らなかった, “I didn’t know that” in response to hearing new information is super common in Japanese. You will definitely hear it if you spend any considerable amount of time in a Japanese-speaking environment.

Since it’s fun to look at subtle nuances, however, let’s take a closer look at そうなの? The key to this phrase, is the particle の. I talk about this quite a bit more in the Bunkai Beast Grammar Guide, but の, when it is used in questions, expresses that someone is being “genuine.” In other words, they are really truly asking a question. If Kenta had only said そう? Then it sounds kind of like he’s disagreeing with Kanako. It would sound like he doesn’t think Diego is a perfectionist. If we put it into English, it’s probably be something like “You think so? (…I disagree)” そう?(...思わないけど)

Adding なの? it shows that he is genuinely saying “Really?” or “Is that so?” It would also be natural for him to say the declarative sentence (i.e. not a question) そうなんだ, which we’ve seen before.

If that all sounds super confusing, please try reading through the Bunkai Beast Grammar Guide. It might help… I hope…

See you next time!

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