Adam takes us to Japan, a country that first fired his passion for food.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Destination Flavour Japan - Japanese grammar - Netflix
Japanese is a synthetic language with a regular agglutinative subject-object-verb (SOV) morphology, with both productive and fixed elements. In language typology, it has many features divergent from most European languages. Its phrases are exclusively head-final and compound sentences are exclusively left-branching. There are many such languages, but few in Europe. It is a topic-prominent language.
Destination Flavour Japan - Word class system - Netflix
Japanese has five major lexical word classes: nouns verbal nouns (correspond to English gerunds like 'studying', 'jumping', which denote activities) nominal adjectives (names vary, also called na-adjectives or “adjectival nouns”) verbs adjectives (so-called i-adjectives) More broadly, there are two classes: uninflectable (nouns, including verbal nouns and adjectival nouns) and inflectable (verbs, with adjectives as defective verbs). To be precise, a verbal noun is simply a noun to which suru (する, “do”) can be appended, while an adjectival noun is like a noun but uses -na (〜な) instead of -no (〜の) when acting attributively. Adjectives (i-adjectives) inflect identically to the negative form of verbs, which end in na-i (ない). Compare tabe-na-i (食べない, don't eat) → tabe-na-katta (食べなかった, didn't eat) and atsu-i (熱い, is hot) → atsu-katta (熱かった, was hot). Some scholars, such as Eleanor Harz Jorden, refer to adjectives instead as adjectivals, since they are grammatically distinct from adjectives: they can predicate a sentence. That is, atsui (熱い) is glossed as “hot” when modifying a noun phrase, as in atsui gohan (熱いご飯, hot food), but as “is hot” when predicating, as in gohan wa atsui (ご飯は熱い, [the] food is hot). The two inflected classes, verb and adjective, are closed classes, meaning they do not readily gain new members. Instead, new and borrowed verbs and adjectives are conjugated periphrastically as verbal noun + suru (e.g. benkyō suru (勉強する, do studying; study)) and adjectival noun + na. This differs from Indo-European languages, where verbs and adjectives are open classes, though analogous “do” constructions exist, including English “do a favor”, “do the twist” or French “faire un footing” (do a “footing”, go for a jog), and periphrastic constructions are common for other senses, like “try climbing” (verbal noun) or “try parkour” (noun). Other languages where verbs are a closed class include Basque: new Basque verbs are only formed periphrastically. Conversely, pronouns are closed classes in Western languages but open classes in Japanese and some other East Asian languages. In a few cases new verbs are created by appending -ru (〜る) to a noun or using it to replace the end of a word. This is most often done with borrowed words, and results in a word written in a mixture of katakana (stem) and hiragana (inflectional ending), which is otherwise very rare. This is typically casual, with the most well-established example being sabo-ru (サボる, cut class; play hooky) (circa 1920), from sabotāju (サボタージュ, sabotage), with other common examples including memo-ru (メモる, write a memo), from memo (メモ, memo), and misu-ru (ミスる, make a mistake) from misu (ミス, mistake). In cases where the borrowed word already ends with a ru (ル), this may be punned to a ru (る), as in gugu-ru (ググる, to google), from Google (グーグル), and dabu-ru (ダブる, to double), from daburu (ダブル, double). New adjectives are extremely rare; one example is kiiro-i (黄色い, yellow), from adjectival noun kiiro (黄色), and a more casual recent example is kimo-i (きもい, gross), by contraction of kimochi waru-i (気持ち悪い, bad-feeling). By contrast, in Old Japanese -shiki (〜しき) adjectives (precursors of present i-adjectives ending in -shi-i (〜しい), formerly a different word class) were open, as reflected in words like ita-ita-shi-i (痛々しい, painful), from the adjective ita-i (痛い, painful, hurt), and kō-gō-shi-i (神々しい, heavenly, sublime), from the noun kami (神, god) (with sound change). Japanese adjectives are unusual in being closed class but quite numerous – about 700 adjectives – while most languages with closed class adjectives have very few. Some believe this is due to a grammatical change of inflection from an aspect system to a tense system, with adjectives predating the change. The conjugation of i-adjectives has similarities to the conjugation of verbs, unlike Western languages where inflection of adjectives, where it exists, is more likely to have similarities to the declension of nouns. Verbs and adjectives being closely related is unusual from the perspective of English, but is a common case across languages generally, and one may consider Japanese adjectives as a kind of stative verb. Japanese vocabulary has a large layer of Chinese loanwords, nearly all of which go back more than one thousand years, yet virtually none of them are verbs or “i-adjectives” – they are all nouns, of which some are verbal nouns (suru) and some are adjectival nouns (na). In addition to the basic verbal noun + suru form, verbal nouns with a single-character root often experienced sound changes, such as -suru (〜する) → -zuru (〜ずる) → -jiru (〜じる), as in kin-jiru (禁じる, forbid), and some cases where the stem underwent sound change, as in tassuru (達する, reach), from tatsu (達). Verbal nouns are uncontroversially nouns, having only minor syntactic differences to distinguish them from pure nouns like 'mountain'. There are some minor distinctions within verbal nouns, most notably that some primarily conjugate as -wo suru (〜をする) (with a particle), more like nouns, while others primarily conjugate as -suru (〜する), and others are common either way. For example, keiken wo suru (経験をする, to experience) is much more common than keiken suru (経験する), while kanben suru (勘弁する, to pardon) is much more common than kanben wo suru (勘弁をする). Nominal adjectives have more syntactic differences versus pure nouns, and traditionally were considered more separate, but they, too, are ultimately a subcategory of nouns. There are a few minor word classes that are related to adjectival nouns, namely the taru adjectives and naru adjectives. Of these, naru adjectives are fossils of earlier forms of na adjectives (the nari adjectives of Old Japanese), and are typically classed separately, while taru adjectives are a parallel class (formerly tari adjectives in Late Old Japanese), but are typically classed with na adjectives.
Destination Flavour Japan - References - Netflix