Sat Jun 7th, 2014
Over at First Known When Lost, a commenter posts a Japanese song about fish.
Yona, Ninebe irasshai! ie, ikitakunai.The site owner is politely befuddled: 'I lived in Tokyo and studied Japanese for a year, long ago, but I don't know half the words here.' I lived and studied for five years and was equally adrift until the light suddenly dawned. Yona and Ninebe are proper names and this is all about Jonah and the whale.
Yona, Ninebe irasshai! ie, ikitakunaaaaai!
Ohkina sakana Yona wo nonda
Yona wa osorete, tasukete, tasuketeeeee!
Yona Ninebe irasshai! hai, ikimasu.
Jonah, go to Nineveh! no, I don't wanna
Jonah, go to Nineveh! no, I don't WANNA!
A great big fish gulped Jonah up
Jonah was terrified: save me, saaave me!
Jonah, go to Nineveh! yes, I'll go.
A bit more capitalization in the dialogue would have helped.
That is a fascinating example of... well, I'm not sure what the term is, but I'm sure there must be a linguistic term for this sort of thing.
What it is to me is a fascinating example of how you must already know what the Japanese is saying to know what it's saying. Context, context, and context.