“All You Need is Kill”: Let’s Read #1

“Let’s Read” is an attempt on my behalf to master this language by reading Japanese texts found in books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

In this edition, the text is from “All You Need is Kill.” A military sci-fi written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and has been adapted to what I think as one of the better sci-fi films with Tom Cruise in the lead, “Edge of Tomorrow.

Okay, on to the first Japanese example:

戦闘開始せんとうかいしから十分間じゅうぶんかん兵士へいし恐怖きょうふおぼれる。

  • 戦闘開始. Noun. “Start of a battle.” Consists of two independent nouns, 戦闘 “battle,” and 開始 “beginning; start.”
  • から. Particle. Usually translated into “from.”
  • 十分. Noun. “Ten minutes.” Self-explanatory.
  • 間. This usually means “period,” or “between.” Tacked behind time, as in this case, 十分, it becomes “span.”
  • 戦闘開始から十分間 then points to a specific time, “ten minutes from the start of the battle.”
  • 兵士. Noun. “Soldier.”
  • は. Particle. Topic particle.
  • 恐怖. Noun. “Fear.”
  • に. Particle. Target particle.
  • 溺れる. Verb. “To drown.”
  • 恐怖に溺れる then means, “To drown in fear.”
  • Who drowns in fear? The topic. 兵士. The soldier.
  • Thus, the whole sentence translates into, “Ten minutes from start of battle, the soldier was drown in fear.”

Pretty easy, right?

そうぞうしてるがいい。

  • 想像. Noun. “Imagination.” Kanjis in this compound are そう “thought; idea,” and ぞう “picture.”
  • して. Verb. Continuation form of する “to do.” Continuation form means that there would be some more chaining that adds to the meaning brought by this on itself.
  • する verb attaches to noun would turn the noun into its verb version. Here, as it attaches to 想像, the new meaning becomes, “to imagine.”
  • 見る. Verb. “To see.”
  • が. Particle. Officially, a subject particle. A beginner Japanese learner trap to distinguish between this particle and topic particle, は.
  • いい. I-adjective. “Good.”
  • して見るがいい construct is a suggestion from the speaker to “do something and see for yourself” with an added impression that the speaker thinks it was good for you.
  • Literally, 想像して見るがいい translates into “it is good to try imagining it.” However, the better translation to this sentence would actually be, “Imagine!” Remember that Japanese are never straight-forward so any direct imperative should be avoided.

こうてつ場所ばしょだ。

  • 鋼鉄. Noun. “Steel.” Kanjis for this compound are こう“steel,” and てつ “iron.”
  • の. Particle. Often function as possessive, like English’s “‘s,” but also, as in this case function like English’s “of.”
  • 死. Noun. “Death.”
  • が. Particle. Subject marker.
  • 飛び交う. Verb. “To fly about.” This is actually a verb-verb construction. 飛ぶ “to fly” and 交う “to exchange.” Another example of this verb-verb construction is 飛び出す “to fly out” which combines 飛ぶ and 出る “to out.”
  • 鋼鉄の死が飛び交う then becomes “Steel of Death flies about.”
  • 場所. Noun. “Place.” A common kanji.
  • だ. Copula. This wikipedia article should explains copula better than I ever could.
  • 鋼鉄の死が飛び交う場所 then becomes a verb-noun construction and translates into, “A place where Steel of Death flies about.”

とおはなれただんかなでるおとひくくにごっている。

  • 遠く. Adverbial noun. “Far.”
  • 離れた. Verb. Past form of 離れる “to be separated.”
  • 弾. Noun. “Bullet.”
  • 遠く離れた弾 then formed a verb-noun construct and translates into, “Bullet that was discharged from afar.”
  • が. Particle. Subject particle.
  • 奏でる. Verb. “To dance; to play.”
  • 音. Noun. “Sound.”
  • 奏でる音 then formed a verb-noun construct and translates into, “Sound that played.”
  • は. Particle. Topic particle.
  • 低く. Noun. “Lowering; Bringing down.”
  • にごっている. Verb. ている form of にごる “to become dull (of sound).” ている form of a verb is generally an equivalent to English’s progressive form. Therefore 濁っている roughly translated to, “becoming dull.”
  • 低く濁っている could then be translated into, “Bringing down, becoming dull.”
  • Overall, this sentence’s idea could be thought of along this line. “The sound of bullet that was discharged from afar, low and muddy.”

はらうごかすかわいたおとだ。

  • 腹. Noun. “Stomach; Belly.”
  • を. Particle. Marks 腹 as a direct object.
  • 揺り動かす. Verb. “To shake.” A verb-verb construction, it combines 揺る “to shake,” and 動かす “to move.”
  • 乾いた. Noun. “Dried.”
  • 音. Noun. “Sound.”
  • だ. Copula.
  • The sentence then translates into, “It is a dry sound that shakes a belly.”

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