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Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by rainbowizard, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    I am dealing with the following sentence:
    背の高い男の人はT シャツを着ています
    The tall guy is wearing a T-shirt
    Why the adjective 高い and not simply the noun 高 is used...? ... 背の高男の人はT シャツを着ています ... or 背の高の男の人はT シャツを着ています ... sound so weird? :p

    The same for 背の低い男の人はT シャツを着ています ... Why the adjective 低い and not simply the noun 低 is used...?

    I mean, I read somewhere on a grammar book that the two terms around の should always be two substantives (as by the way 男の人 in the same example are).
    Why is that not the case?

    I think I did not understood - more in general - what are the grammar rules that stay behind the usage of の particle :confused:

    May you please help me?
    thank you
  2. animelover Senior Member

    Eastern Germany
    Answered here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2678086

    Parse it as 背-の-(高い男)

    背が高い is a fixed expression, which is a main factor in explaining why you should stick with the adjective. Also, if A,B,C are nouns, you can say AのBC only when BC constitutes an acceptable compound, otherwise it is AのBのC.
  3. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Danke schön, animelover
    I think I will return to your post on attributive sentences as soon as I get more acquainted with advanced-japanese :)
    For now I will take as a general rule that の can be use to join two nouns or more in general two "tokens" where the first may be considered somehow as "an adjective" of the latter... and I will try to parse my examples accordingly...

    Just let me do a final naive example ... I can say "a red apple" in the following ways:

    but I cannot say


    Thank you very much again!
  4. animelover Senior Member

    Eastern Germany
    If it makes it easier to understand, consider the English phrase "Stephen's red apple". 's is the English genitive marker, and it can only be used to connect two nouns. If "red" is an adjective (and not the noun Red), you cannot say "Stephen's red" (or "Stephan's long"), yet "Stephen's red apple" and "Stephen's long leg" is possible. The reason is the same as in Japanese, the phrase is interpreted as [Stephen] 's [red apple].

    Similarly, 背の低い男 you can just interpreted as (背) の (低い男).

    Yes. 赤(あか)リンゴ is possible as well, where 赤 closely joins to リンゴ, so that 赤リンゴ is like one noun, "a red-apple", instead of a modified noun; "an apple which is red".

    Yes, unless you're only mentioning the string 赤い (so that it effectively becomes a noun); imagine a company with the name 赤い or an apple with 赤い written on it, then you could refer to it as a 「赤い」のリンゴ. Same as in English, if there were a company called "Red", you could say "Red" 's apple.
  5. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    赤()のリンゴ has definetly let me understand the topic :) ... since I can translate it: [an apple] of [red colour] wich is slightly different from 赤いリンゴ = a red coloured apple.
    Ok I think it's clear now. Thank you!

    Pretty clear! In that case I would probably also translate 「赤い」のリンゴ
    as "An AKAI's apple" romanizing the name of the company but leaving it as its original.
  6. Tonky Senior Member

    Sorry to interrupt after it is cleared for you, but I'm afraid we do not normally say "赤のリンゴ", but instead say 赤リンゴ, 赤いリンゴ or 赤色のリンゴ to mean a red apple or an apple of red color. 赤のリンゴ sounds more like a product name rather than a red apple.
    When の is used, the word connected would not function as an adjective. 「赤」のリンゴ would be the same as 「赤い」のリンゴ as explained above, and 「赤」will be considered to be a proper noun/name, or the whole「赤のリンゴ」to be a name of a product, say, some candies or a title for stationary like "Hello Kitty".

    There is a subtle difference between 赤色のリンゴ and 赤リンゴ/赤いリンゴ, too.
    赤色のリンゴ does not always have to be a real apple and the color may be too red or artificial for that of an apple. It sounds very different from 赤いリンゴ and may sound rather awkward if you do mean a normal red apple.

    青リンゴ = green apple
    青いリンゴ = unripe apple or green apple (青いトマト = unripe tomato)
    青色のリンゴ = apple of blue color, not green usually unless the speaker is a very old Japanese.
    緑色のリンゴ = apple of green color
    (The issue here is that old Japanese people call green 青, and we still keep this habit of calling green 青 for certain things, like 青信号 for green traffic lights.)

    Also, making nouns out of adjectives such as 赤い→赤、青い→青 works, but neither 低い→低 nor 高い→高 works unless it is used as Kango, a word of Chinese origin (e.g. 温 = high temperature, 気圧 = low pressure, these 高/低 are not nouns but function as adjectives).
  7. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    大丈夫 Tonky, your post is very welcome ;)

    ... following your clarification, I think that when I say 赤色のリンゴ it should sound in Italian as "una mela colorata di rosso" as if it was painted in red by someone.

    Good to know :) ... and indeed I know that traffic lights in Japan are actually blue () orange/yellow and red and not green, orange/yellow and red as in Italy or in Europe (as far as I know).
  8. Tonky Senior Member

    Hmm does this↓ look blue to you? (But yes, many are blue-green or greenish blue.)

    Off topic, but it's interesting that you say "orange/yellow" as one. Maybe I should make a new thread to talk about colors :cool:
  9. rainbowizard

    rainbowizard Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Well ... your example is definetly green, however this: http://jto.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ek20130225a1a.jpg is almost blue.

    About "Orange/Yellow" ... well it's me I forgot that the official color name of the middle light in traffic-lights. It should be "amber".
    I also found this about 青 and 緑 for traffic-lights:
    from Through The Language Glass - why the world looks different in other languages, by Guy Deutscher

    nevertheless... we are definetly OOT ... maybe we should move this discussion into "Cultural Discussions" forum ;)
    (considering my nickname, of course I am interested in colours :D)
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  10. Tonky Senior Member

    Ah yes, that one looks blue, but I'm afraid it has a bit to do with the color display. (I myself have never visited 日光 and haven't got to see that particular one, though.)

    Aye, I can imagine, but what I officially heard as the reason of it being blue-ish was to help people with color vision deficiency, and I actually assumed it to be the same all over the world.
    I just checked and a wiki page does say it is to help the color blind ;) I guess we Japanese got a great excuse!
    (The underlinedof the quote says; The official documented law and order till WW2 used "緑信号", but also changed it to "青信号" in 1947, after WW2. So, Japanese Media started calling it blue and everyone followed according to that page.)

    Too bad, that forum is closed now. May have to look for an existing thread that talks about the same/similar topic.
    (I actually wanted to ask how many colors a rainbow has in Italy:p)
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013

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