Japanese: That’s How It Is

ソーユーこと

This reads like “soo yuu koto.” This is Tokyo dialect, under-pronouncing the first part. One might see the “koto” part either in kana or as kanji, but what we’re really seeing is actually:

そういう事

The “sou” part indicates something “over there,” like sono and sore do. The “iu” part is for, well, 言う (to say). This doesn’t make much sense until you read it in a context, like this:

“You mean that unless we hit the monster it in three places at once, we can’t beat it?”

(nod) “Sou iu koto.”

In other words, it’s a reference to what the previous speaker just said.

Now, koto () here is a thing, but it is not in the English sense in this respect: in Japanese, a “koto” is an intangible thing only.

A mono () is, in contrast, a tangible thing.

Love is a koto. Ice cream is a mono. Idealism is a koto. An airplane is a mono.

This pattern never changes.

Words, too, are a koto rather than a mono, for words are not tangible; they are ideas.

So, to revisit the earlier example, with proper localization:

“You mean that unless we hit the monster it in three places at once, we can’t beat it?”

(nod) “That’s how it is.”

Or put in an overly literal way, it is as you (just) said.

So that’s how it is.

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
This entry was posted in Grammar, Japan, Languages and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply