piranha: red origami crane (Default)
since the paramour is now also learning japanese (when angband leaves time for that), and we now have conversations about grammar while walking (which is inconvenient, because i can't google while walking), i'm gonna write up bits and pieces when i think about how to explain them better afterwards.

so, verbs. to be or not to be. and what is a copula?

copula comes from latin for link/tie, something that connects. linguistically, a copula links the subject of a sentence with a predicate (that which makes an assertion about the subject); it equates or associates the subject with the predicate.

in english the verb "to be" is the main copula.

i am forever a student.
cats are felines.
the sky was blue again later on that afternoon.
boys will be boys.

"to be" is also used as an existential verb (i think therefore i am.), which isn't a copular use IIRC, but i doubt most people know or care about the difference. i do though, and it's important to know that in japanese these concepts are not expressed the same way.

in japanese the copula can't simply be translated as "to be", and most definitely not in its sense of existence. the japanese copula isn't even really a verb. it sometimes gets used like one (but sometimes not), it conjugates, but it doesn't conjugate quite like any other verb -- it's either the super-verb, or not a verb at all, depending on the specific usage. anyway. the japanese copula is formally である (de aru) -- this form seems rarely used in speech today, but it's still common in writing, and knowing it makes conjugating the copula clearer. students come across it first in its polite form of です (desu), and slummers like me hear a lot of plain だ (da) on drama CDs -- which is just a contraction of である (de aru).

the general, simple pattern of a sentence using the copula is X は (wa) Y です (desu), where X is the subject, the topic under discussion, は the topic marker, and Y the predicate, that which is being associated with the subject.

いちじです (ichi-ji desu)
it is one o'clock.

これわおいしいです (kore wa oishii desu)
this is tasty.

たなかさんわせんせいです (tanaka-san wa sensei desu)
mr/mrs/ms tanaka is a teacher.

ぼくはがくせいだ (boku wa gakusei da)
i am a student.

conjugating the copula, and forms that don't translate to "to be" next time.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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