Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Japanese Mini Lesson 4: You can really sink your teeth into this Japanese lesson

It doesn't matter where you live, you'd be silly not to get out there and sample a variety of restaurants in your surrounding area. Going around and trying different cuisines at various restaurants makes the mandatory process of fueling your body that much more exciting after all. MASSIVELY OBVIOUS SEGUE ALERTZWORZ!!!

Soooo, should you count yourself as a bit of a restaurant-touring gourmand, perhaps this Japanese noun and it's following expression will come in handy:


食べ歩きをする (verb)
tabearuki wo suru

So we literally have eat-walk/ eat-walk do. This expression means to go out and try food at various eating establishments. So if you're a bit of a foodie and you want to attest to that fact in Japanese, well then, you are now loaded with the know how.

 例文  /  れいぶん  /  Reibun (Example Sentence):
I often go out and sample various restaurants, so you may feel free to call me "The Gourmand" if you would like to.
Literally: Regarding me, walk-eat (going out to sample restaurants) do matter numerously exist therefore, "The Gourmand" call me agreeable (emphatically).
Literal translations like these are useful for you guys coming to grips with the order of verbs and objects etc. in Japanese sentences. They are often hilarious too, so that's a bonus.

But some of you beginners of Japanese might be thinking that something is up here. "Where's the る in 食べる/eat?" and "I thought walk was 歩く!" you may be asking and pondering respectively. Well, what we see here is an example of a (and I'm going to avoid technical terms for this one) "double verb sandwich." However this double verb sandwich has actually been altered to make it a noun. So there are two things funky going on with 食べ歩き. Before it gets too confusing, let's break it on down.

Funky 1. Double verb sandwiches (DVS)s are commonly formed in Japanese. When fusing two verbs together to make a DVS, you must think of the first verb in it's ーます form and proceed to rip off the ます, leaving the ます verb stem. So in the case of 飛び込む (to literally jump, leap, dive or plunge into something physical or conversely to figuratively leap, plunge into something intangible) we have taken 飛ぶ (to fly, leap etc.) put it into the polite/ます form, 飛びます, proceeded to cut off the ます (in working with my analogy, let's just imagine we're trimming off the bread crusts for our DVS) and we are left with the ます stem form, 飛び, rather than the dictionary form 飛ぶ. Place this together with 込む and you have your DVS.

Funky 2. Altering a verb to make it a noun: When you slice off the crusts of a polite/ます form verb to make a ます stem, you can "noun-ify" a verb. I am fairly confident in saying that you can't just use the ますstem as a noun for any old verb you choose because some sliced verbs may rarely or never be used in speech or writing and not be in circulation at all. With that said though, consider the very relevant 歩き. In this form, we have the noun, 'walk' as used in sentences such as "to go on a walk" or "this walk will go through the forest and take 5 minutes."

So, there you have it. 食べ歩き! Gourmands and Japanese scholars take note! Next time you are in Japan, make sure you indulge in 食べ歩き. It is indeed a very excellent part of the world to do it, thanks to the considerable regional variety.

Have fun learning Japanese! If you want to share some DVSs, drop me a comment! Cheers.
Bonus Material

Why make DVSs in the first place? 
Well, I would say to add a dimension or flavour to a verb in order to create these cool all-in-one double verbs. The Japanese have been able to modify the first verb in DVSs with the second in order to (for example)

-modify the extremity to which a verb is done (particularly in the case of DVSs ending in ー込む- which can be used to say "do/done thoroughly")
-form a verb or noun that at once describes a process that comprises two (truly or roughly) simultaneous actions (today's 食べ歩き being a great example)
- otherwise add nuance or flavour to the leading verb
- plus (likely many) other purposes.

 Here's a fun note on DVSs
You will often see double verb sandwiches with a に filling (has the analogy gotten old yet?? :p). For example, to go out (and have a good time/play/visit etc.) 遊びに行く is the phrase of choice. Here we have the ますstem of 遊ぶ (play, enjoy oneself etc.), the delicious に particle, with a slice of 行く (to go, proceed), so literally "to go and play." Here's another: 見に来る (見る's ますstem, に, 来る) so literally to see and come, meaning "to come and see."

Thanks for staying around! Love ya!

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