Participle Equivalents In Japanese

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by kyrintethron, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    I know that participles don't technically exist in Japanese, but there are useful equivalents, and I have a question about the use of them.

    In English, we have the word "written" as the past participle of "write". In the context of this question, I want to focus on its use in the following example: "written words", e.g.

    There are two ways this could be used:

    1. "There are written words on this page." - indicating that someone wrote the words down in the past.
    2. "We only use this conjugation with written words." - using the gnomic aspect, indicating a universal truth, and differentiating these types of words that are recorded on paper from words that are spoken.

    My conjecture is that in Japanese the equivalent is 書かれた言葉, at least for the usage in the first sentence. I would think for something general, like the usage in the second sentence, we would use the time-neutral 書かれる (書かれる言葉) instead.

    Is this correct? Are these even the write words/conjugations for conveying this kind of idea?

  2. Tonky Senior Member

    If you want it gnomic, I'd say 筆跡(ひっせき) or (書かれた)文字 for 1, and 書き言葉 or 文語体(ぶんごたい) for 2.
    書かれた is in parenthesis, because, well, if it is ancient, we all know those were definitely written by someone and no need to say so.
    Or we may change the sentence into 「このページに文字が書かれています。」
    I'm not really sure why we would say 文字 instead of 言葉, but maybe because we use kanji...? 筆跡 may sound a bit pedantic depending on the context. You could also say 文書(もんじょ) for documents written in ancient time.

    書き言葉 and 話し言葉 are daily terms to mean written language and spoken language, and 文語 and 口語(こうご) are literary words for them.

    I should probably add that when you say 文語, it rather talks about classic Japanese style than modern written Japanese.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  3. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    Thanks Tonky, I will definitely be adding all that to my Anki deck.

    But I suppose my question is more about the Japanese equivalent to all past participles in English. I know there's often a preset word for many of these things, but I was curious about a more direct, grammatical equivalent to this kind of word usage as opposed to "written" specifically.

    For instance, we could say "worn clothes" in reference to clothing that somebody wore in the past ("Worn clothes ['clothes that were worn'] are dirty and smell bad.", or we could say "worn clothes" in reference to clothing that people wear or are wearing in a gnomic sense ("Worn clothes ['clothes that are worn' or 'clothes that people wear'] help to keep the body warm.).

    Again, I'm sure there are probably both stock phrases and expressions as well as better ways to say these particular kinds of sentences, but I'm curious about the direct grammar conjugations.

    I'm thinking that 着られた服 would be the conjugation for the first sentence. But what about the second? Would it still be 着られた服? or would it be 着られる服?

    It may not be the best way to express these ideas, but I'm really curious to know if in Japanese, one would use the non-past passive, as opposed to English where we only have one option for both ideas: the past participle.


    p.s. Sorry for all the nested quotes, parentheses and brackets! Lol
  4. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    Or is the masu-stem form of the verb the way that you do the non-past and I was just really slow to pick it up.

    For instance, would 着り服 be the way of expressing my second sentence? or does this only exist for pre-existing phrases like 書き言葉 and 話し言葉?

  5. Tonky Senior Member

    There is not ONE fixed expression for ALL to call an equivalent.

    1) with masu-form
    書き言葉(written language)、落し物(lost item)、落ち葉(fallen leaves)...etc
    話し相手(one to talk to)、着物(kimono, item to wear/Japanese clothes)、食べ物(things to eat)、割り箸(chopsticks to split)...etc
    2) with ta-form
    堕ちた天使(fallen angel)、汚れた英雄(dirty hero)、洗った服(washed clothes)、生まれし子(born child, literaly form)...etc
    3) with dictionary form
    買う物(things to buy, cf. 買い物=shopping)、見る物(things to watch)、あげる物(things to give)...etcsorry, wrong examples .
    *edit in* 立つ瀬(shallow to stand on)、吐く息(exhaled air)
    4) with participle
    描かれた餅(drawn mochi)、仕組まれた罠(planned trap)、完成された型(completed form)、着古された服(worn-out clothes)...etc
    5) with kanji of verb+noun/noun+verb
    助言(words to help)、運動服(clothes to wear for sports)、教師(master who teaches)、被害(damage taken) ...etc

    and so on.

    着る's masu form is 着ます, and 着物(kimono) is "clothes to wear", but as you know, it is usually used only for kimono now.
    We also have this word, 古着(furugi) for second-hand clothes, meaning someone else used to wear it (and gave away or sold).
    着る服 is possible, for clothes to wear, but it would need certain context such as 卒業式で着る服(clothes to wear at graduation ceremony)
    着た服 is also possible, for clothes worn once, but it also would need certain context. 卒業式で着た服(clothes worn at graduation ceremony)
    着ている服, for clothes someone is now wearing, as in あなたが着ている服、かわいいね!(The clothes you are wearing are cute!)
    着ていた服, for clothes someone was wearing, as in 彼女が着ていた服は私のです(The clothes she was wearing then are mine.)
    着られる服, for clothes you can still wear, as in 古着でも着られる服があれば寄付してください(Please donate clothes that can be worn even if they are old. not in participle form)

    and so on.
    Now these are not "gnomic", but normal conjugations we use to form our everyday talk.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013
  6. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    Wow, Tonky! Thanks for that expansive explanation.

    I guess my final question is: if I wanted to express something in a gnomic sense and a stock word or phrase does not already exist, what form of the verb would you advise me to use to modify the noun?

    Or is this something that simply isn't done in Japanese unless a word already exists?

  7. Tonky Senior Member

    There may be a rule, but I'm not totally sure about it. For the moment, I can only say it isn't simply done, though.
    Let's give it a try, would you give a few more words you want to express in a gnomic sense? I see if I can come up with any decent answer.
  8. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    Okay, I came up with a list of examples. I tried to get rid of ones that would obviously use the past tense passive like "eaten food" and "killed people". I hope these are distinct enough:

    • Watched pots never boil.
    • Walked dogs are healthier than sedentary ones.
    • Followed deer can usually smell their predators.
    • Spoken lectures are more effective than written ones.
    • Cried tears ease suffering by releasing endorphins.
    • Smelled food always makes you hungry.
    • Loved people live longer lives.
    • A driven car is more fun than one kept in a garage.
    • Sung hymns inspire religious people.
    • Studied vocabulary is more easily memorized (than vocabulary that is not studied).

  9. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    List by kyrintethron with my translations

    Participles are a functional category in the grammar of many European languages such as English. Other languages, like Japanese, have different devices that serve functions that participle would in European languages, or IE in general.

    • Watched pots never boil.
    In Japanese, pots do not boil. Yu or oyu is hot or boiling water. Waku is an intransitive verb that takes a resultative nominative. E.g., 風呂が沸いた。風呂に入ろう。 (The sense of 風呂 is not limited to a bath tub.)

    • Walked dogs are healthier than sedentary ones.
    散歩させている犬は、 そうでない犬に比べて健康である。
    Apparently I avoided translating sedentary. I cannot find a good equivalent and そうでない is more often used in logical comparisons.

    • Followed deer can usually smell their predators.

    • Spoken lectures are more effective than written ones.

    • Cried tears ease suffering by releasing endorphins.
    Some may disagree with my use of the inanimate subject エンドルフィンの分泌. エンドルフィンの分泌で苦痛が軽減される is also a candidate translation. The agent of 分泌 is unmentioned but the -to clause suggests shedding tears as an event that is closely associated with the release.

    • Smelled food always makes you hungry.
    There are cases where even I cannot stand inanimate subjects. The conjunction -to often entails an extremely probably relation between the protasis and apodosis. So I left always untranslated.

    • Loved people live longer lives.

    • A driven car is more fun than one kept in a garage.

    • Sung hymns inspire religious people.
    The agent of 'sung' is ambiguous. If religious people get inspired by someone else's hymns, then:
    Another instance of tendency of Japanese to avoid inanimate subjects.

    • Studied vocabulary is more easily memorized (than vocabulary that is not studied).
    The underlying structure is a relative clause on par with "vocabulary that one has studied." The passive 学習された is very awkward.
  10. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Yep sure. Very nice.

    Yes a past tense can present a fact in the past; sb/sth did so. This is as well in every language. This one says sb wore the clothes and vividly tells the past. In examples of this usage you probably can find an actor.

    This is the time-neutral, yes. Can this be a future tense? Depends on the context. I slightly sense even actor-neutral, too, but that depends..I feel like this is freer from suggesting an actor than when using a past tense; this is my rough impression. I'll talk you later.

    Note that the two examples can be as follows without significantly changing the meanings, when the actor is I:
  11. Tonky Senior Member

    Flaminius-san did the perfect translation there.

    I'm still pondering on this, though. there are occasionally phrases that go gnomic as I listed, especially with some translation-style words. I still cannot think of any rules. It may take a full-time pro-researcher to find this out, or to find out there exists none :p

    forgotten this part,
    you may think its obvious, but not really in Japanese, depending on the context.
    "eaten food" would be 食べたもの and I don't think it would be 食べられたもの. Also, "killed people" would be usually 被害者(victim) or 死者, unless you want to specify "murdered" as in 殺された人. It really needs context to pick the right word. Please note that passives are not originally natural Japanese.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  12. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    どうもありがとうございました、Flaminius! That was very in depth and revealing. For anyone who comes across this in the future, I bolded your examples which gnomically use participles as I suspected they would be, and that you and frequency have confirmed. I also appreciate the exposure of と being used in this sense. This something that I'd learned, but hadn't thought to use for phrases like these. Moreover, this is a wealth of new vocab and usages to toss into Anki. ^_^

    食べたもの is very interesting to me. I would have never dreamed that such a thing could exist. Do you suppose that this is an abbreviated form of 食べられた rather than the actual past tense 食べた?

    And I figured I could've used words like "victim" for "killed people", "tears" alone for "cried tears", "hymns" for "sung hymns", etc. Most of them sound ridiculous probably in both English and Japanese, but I really wanted to capture the grammar, which with the help of you all, I think I can now say that I understand it.

  13. Tonky Senior Member

    Nope. 食べたもの is "what (someone) ate".
    Here is an example; 
  14. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    kyrintethron, taberaretamono is awkward because it has an underlying structure for which an inanimate subject is necessary.
  15. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    This is very curious to me. Is this a rule that can applied to any inanimate object of a transitive verb? E.g. 着た服 instead of 着られた服, and 書いた言葉 instead of my aforementioned 書かれた言葉?
    Also, Tonky, I don't know if I'm allowed to ask this here, but when I was adding the words you mentioned above, I came across 死人 and subsequently across the phrase: 死人に口無し. I pretty much understand it (死人 = dead people [men], 口無し = without mouths), and know what it translates to ("dead men tell no tales"), but can you briefly explain the に in this expression? or is that against the rules?ありがとう、-キ
  16. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    書かれた言葉 is often used but 着られた服 is rare. The latter sounds awkward maybe because confusion arises from the homonymous potential form (a dress that one could put on).
  17. Tonky Senior Member

    It's a simple structure of ~に~がある/ない, as in 「机の上に日記があります」「死人に(は)口がない」
  18. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    K, I'm not sure but aren't you stuck with the dual-usage of 着られた服?

    The clothes worn by samurais = The clothes (that) samurais wore.
    侍によって着られた服* = 侍が着た服
    *Not so common, as Flam said, but usual in writing

    A fat guy says,
    I haven't ever had the clothes I could wear!
    How do we deal with this one currently?
    (can/be able to)

    おれが着られた服はないね! is possible, and also:

    We often use 着れた, some may say it informal but common, to avoid confusion sometimes/always (I do always).
  19. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    I'm familiar with the shortening of ~られる to ~れる when conjugating 一段動詞 into the potential. And I suppose this makes sense why would avoid the usage of the homonymous passive form with such verbs. I suppose によって could clear up the confusion, but this introduction of the simple past tense as a participle is interesting, as in frequency's example: 侍が着た服.

    It's funny, because I've probably used this structure countless times without thinking about it, but when I have analyzed the grammar, I've always thought about using the [動詞]る/ている/た participle only for modifying the subject, and not the object as well.

    If I understand this correctly, one could say: (誰かが)書いた言葉は、話し言葉より好きです. ? (Again, 書き言葉 is better, and 書かれた言葉 is often used, but is this usage of 書いた言葉 grammatically sound? and is this usage of the verb to modify the object common?)

  20. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Okay..nice. You're getting to understand=3

    The clothes worn, the written words.
    The verbs are working like adjectives. And now you don't focus on or don't care about who do, who did that. They're just suggesting 'how they are'.

    The clothes samurais wore.
    See the actor has appeared! Therefore, this is S+V, you know this is a clause, different from the case above. You know how you always do: that relative clause. (Notice I'm just talking about the difference in the grammar.) But now you're talking also about the actor, not only the clothes.

    If you want to use 書いた (simple past), it's better to mention an actor with it. In the samurai's case, you know who did that. So when you make the sentence, as long as you know an actor, I guess your sentence will automatically accompany it (I mean you'll do so).

    See, if I do:
    I like the words he wrote more than those he spoke.
    You're pinpointing his action, your action, and the words. You're limiting the thing that happens.

    Written words remain better than spoken words.
    K, regarless to say, this relates to generalisation a bit because of its job―being free from limitation (But you don't need to care about it too much now).

    Further, always don't forget subject-omission in Japanese.
    Sb says to you,
    Did you see the data I sent?
    Notice he's omitting 'I'. You know this omission is often. And this is not 'Did you see the data sent?' If so:
    (Free from the actor; he doesn't mention the actor.)
    This is a matter different from what we've talked about. But I slightly sense this may matter to your question 書いた言葉.

    BTW, sorry, I haven't ever heard of 書き言葉. Ah! this is used when comparing with 話し言葉: 話し言葉、書き言葉.
    I forgot something to tell you more..but post again if you have any questions.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  21. kyrintethron Senior Member

    English - America
    This is awesome! Thanks for pointing this out, frequency. It really does make a world of difference! 本当に大切だと思っている!


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