Learning Through Lyrics, Part 4

Line 4

ちゃんと聞こえている           君の心の聲


I’m hearing loud and clear      the voice of your heart

Vocabulary & Grammar Notes


“Chanto” is a word that means “properly, perfectly, exactly.” It is, thus, equivalent to the English idiom, “loud and clear.” There are other ways to read this, but it is all about paying full and proper attention in a case like this. Japanese: ちゃんと


This combines “Kikoeru” (here: “To Hear, To Listen”) with “iru,” which we have already covered. This creates the continuative verb, “kikoeteiru,” which means simply “to be in a state of hearing/ listening.” Japanese: きこえている、聞こえている

Like other continuative verbs, this implies the continuation of a state of being. In other words, not just listening, but the expectation that the speaker will continue to listen for some time.


The 2nd person pronoun “kimi” is used as a familiar, “we’re close acquaintances at minimum” pronoun. It’s plain/ informal, but at the high end of politeness for plain/ informal. It tends to be used by teachers towards students, implying a friendly relationship that is not family, and not implying anything inappropriate. So, its role here must be understood as being somewhere between these extremes. Japanese: きみ、君


The particle “no” indicates that a relationship exists between different nouns. It is not an apostrophe + s (such as, Brenda‘s hair dryer, Ronald‘s old car), though the relationship can be a possessive one; it’s just not necessarily a possessive relationship 100% of the time. In this case, though, it is indeed a possessive relationship: your heart. Japanese: の


The kanji for “kokoro” is quite literally a pictograph of the human heart. In Japanese, “kokoro” carries the literal and figurative meanings of “heart”; thus, “kokoro” does include the sense of the emotional core, the spirit, the emotional part of the human mind. Japanese: こころ、心

No (Part 2)

An example of why this need not be thought of as ‘s (in the possessive sense) is right here. Instead of “Your heart’s (something),” we can easily write “The (something) of your heart.” I have opted for the latter.


Once again, the writer decided to be cute and use an outdated, overly complicated kanji meaning “koe,” or “voice.” The meaning is otherwise the same as English. Japanese: こえ、声.

Further Localization

In the pros, “localization” means “translation adapted to the target dialect and linguistic culture.” London English would be a hard sell in the United States, for instance.

In American English, it is considered acceptable, and common, to substitute “hear” for “am listening.” It may not be 100% grammatically correct, but the way people hear it, it’s so close that it is treated as an idiomatic way to say “am listening.”

Also, we could change the sentence order a bit.

To wit:

I hear the voice of your heart           loud and clear

This would be just fine.

Often, there cannot be one “true” translation, simply because the grammar works differently in both languages. Here, what was really important was understanding how these words were meant to be understood in native Japanese. How they relate to English must, by nature, be slightly imperfect. However, what’s important is to listen (kikoeru) to the voice (koe) of the heart (kokoro) of the original Japanese words. It’s much more important to carry the spirit of the original than to be bogged down in technicalities.

That’s all for now. Later!

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]
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