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"......I have a banana in my ear" (was: Re: Weekly Vocab 6: to know)

From:Douglas Koller, Latin & French <latinfrench@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 7, 2003, 21:25
Stone wrote:

>My dictionaries are packed away, but > >German: >(vb) _kennen_ /to be aquainted with/ >(vb) _koennen_ /to know how to/ >(vb) _wissen_ /to know <a fact>/ > >Japanese >(vb) _wakaru_ /to recognise, to know by the senses/ >(vb) _dekiru_ /to know <a language> >(vb suffix) _-eru_ /to know how to/
Japanese also has "shiru", realized as "shitte iru" in the present, meaning "know a thing (fact)/person. There is some semantic bleeding here between "knowing how to" and "being able to" (can). And that can lead to cool distinctions in "being able to": I can't swim. - I haven't learned how. vs. I can't swim. - I have a red hot poker jabbed into my thigh. H.S.'s "e hiao" example touches on this. "E hiao ciuN 'Ye Lai Xiang" be?" (Can you sing "Ye Lai Xiang"?) should elicit, "No, but if you hum a few bars, I'll try to fake it.", not, "<Hack,hack> 'Fraid not; this laryngitis is killing me." The line between "dekiru" and "-eru" is not clearcut, and they can both be translated as "can". "Nihongo o hanasu koto ga dekiru." and "Nihongo o (or "ga") hanaseru. both mean "I can speak Japanese." The fact that you can get away with the sentence, "Nihongo ga dekiru.", I like to liken in my mind to the German "Ich kann Deutsch.", but I think the background logic is actually different. In German, I interpret it as an ellipsis of a well-understood-by-context, rounding-out-the-sentence infinitive, here "sprechen", maybe "verstehen". In Japanese, "dekiru" is the potential form of the verb "suru", "to do", so it takes noun phrases. Hence: Gorufu ga dekiru. I can (play) golf. Kenkyuu ga dekiru. I can (do) research. Nihongo ga dekiru. I can (do/speak) Japanese. and, while we're at it: Nihongo o hanasu koto ga dekiru. ("koto" means "thing" and can nominalize phrases) (literally) I can do the thing of speaking Japanese Distinctions between "shitte iru" and "wakaru" (as "know") can also be blurry. Kou


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>