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父によって書かれた本 vs. 父が書いた本

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by almondblossom, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. almondblossom New Member

    Hi everyone, I'm having trouble with the passive and the way nouns are modified. In general sometimes I want to say things like:

    The food that my mother made was delicious.
    The dress that my sister bought was too short.
    The film that my teacher recommended was funny.

    But I don't know how to say them.
    I want to say:
    Using the passive to modify the 食べ物 because the food 'was made' by my mother. However, from what I can remember of my Japanese classes - this is incorrect and it should be:

    To me, it seems that if 'The girl who made the food' is: 食べ物を作った女性, then 'The food that was made by the girl' should be: 女性に作られた食べ物

    I was wondering if someone could explain:
    - Is using the passive wrong?
    - Why is it wrong?

    I also found two example sentences on the internet that are apparently both correct:

    先日父によって書かれた本を発見した。 - The other day I found a book that was written by my father.
    これはブラウンさんが書いた手紙です。 - This is a letter written by Mr. Brown.

    Which one is correct? Or are they both? Could anyone explain how this grammar works?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Tonky Senior Member

    No, it is not wrong, but it does not sound natural, many native speakers avoid it, unless in written forms.
    It creates some confusion because ~れる/られる form also has "potential" and "honorable" functions, and when used as passive, it often (not always) implies a sense of feeling troubled or disturbed by it as we call 迷惑(めいわく). Passive form is traditionally used to show this 迷惑 feeling OR to translate foreign documents and literature in more accurate manner.

    The food that my mother made(cooked?)  母が作った食べ物
    The food (that was) made by my mother  母によって作られた食べ物​
    You can say either way in English too.
    In Japanese, the latter sounds like a direct translation from a foreign language, or, you are writing an official document for some reason. People would understand you perfectly either way, but not natural.

    There is a thread in this forum that talked about the same topic a while ago, but I couldn't find it myself. Try searching it for more information.
  3. YangMuye Senior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    There are many similar threads. Do you mean these?


    I wrote a reply to the second thread, but I didn't post it, because I thought the question was hard or impossible to answer. (Participles in English and verbs in Japanese are often used as adjectives, it's hard to find one-to-one correspondence.)

    By the way, voice(passive or active) in relative clauses should be a little different. You use passive voice less often in relative clauses than in other positions of a sentence. The discussions in the first thread might not apply to this case.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  4. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan

    Remember, they're the same when you describe how the food is. Either isn't 'the food that my father ate', is it? The differences are just how you 'cook' it. (The food made by mother vs the food my mother made.)

    Especially in writing,
    Rice is common food in Japan, and is eaten by many people..
    Rice is common food in Japan, and many people eat it..

    In the first case, your viewpoint is continuously focused on rice/common food, isn't it?
    But in the second case, this may look like 'many people' suddenly disturbs the flow.
    Passive is good when you use it like that, and this is as well in Japanese. So your question a bit involves a matter of writing style.

    See in yours 先日父によって書かれた本を発見した。, don't you feel that your viewpoint is fixed to '本', do you?

    Then, why did your classes say 母が作った食べ物 (the food that my mother cooked/made) better?
    In conversation, this is much easier than saying '母に作られた食べ物', which slightly sounds, in Japanese, like writing. English is more flexible to use both.

    Oh what happened to you? lol! You should have;)
  5. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    The following both sound very wrong:
    1. 母によって作られた食事
    2. 母に作られた食事

    (Side note: If the English food refers to cooked food ready to be served, 食事 is a more suitable translation than 食べ物)

    Sentence 1 is awkward because the underlying active voice sentence (母が)食事を作る is not a creative act*, as opposed to 本を書く. It is not that the Japanese language neglects the artistic elements of culinary work but 食事を作る is assumed to be a repetitive, customary action. The postposition niyotte could introduce an instrument for making food, although the mother is not an instrument but an agent or a cause of making food. The sentence is acceptable if niyotte modifies an inanimate noun such as 人の手. A human complement is also possible if the noun is the name of a profession or qualification. 栄養管理士によって作られた食事 is perfectly okay because it implies that professional expertise is used in the process.

    Sentence 2 is awkward because the sentence is required (perhaps by the word haha, which is the specific "my mother" unless otherwise said) to answer a question for whom the food was prepared. This means that the passive cannot be a direct one but an indirect one, which is like:
    This indirect construction implies that I, the speaker, was inconvenienced* by her mother's food.

    If you want to keep 母に, use the benefactive construction:
    母に作ってもらった食事, or;
    母が作ってくれる食事(は、いつもおいしかった), if you are recounting a custom in the past

    It must be noted that ni-passive is not always adversative (being inconvenienced). See the article below.

    *You may also take a look at page 4 of this article:
  6. ekapa New Member

    it seems that if 'The girl who made the food' is: 食べ物を作った女性, then 'The food that was made by the girl' should be: 女性に作られた食べ物 ,that is okay

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