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Match Girl (Matchi-uri no Shoujo) - Learn from a Story

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Stories are a fun resource to help learn a language. I will introduce the story, “Match Girl (Matchi-uri no Shoujo)” by Hans Christian Andersen in Japanese. You can also read this story in Japanese. This is the first part of the story.

Romaji Translation

Mukashi mukashi, yuki no furishikiru oomisoka no ban.
Misuborashii fuku o kita matchi-uri no shoujo ga, samusa ni furuenagara isshoukenmei tooru hito ni yobikakete imashita.
“Macchi wa, ikaga. Macchi wa, ikaga desu ka. Dareka, macchi o katte kudasai.”
Demo, daremo tachidomatte kuremasen.
”Onegai, ippon demo ii n desu. Dareka, macchi o katte kudasai.”
Kyou wa mada, ippon mo urete imasen.
Basho o kaeyou to, shoujo ga aruki hajimeta toki desu.
Me no mae o ichidai no basha ga, hashirinukemashita.
Abunai!
Shoujo wa awatete yokeyou to shite yuki no ue ni korondeshimai, sono hazumini kutsu o tobashite shimaimashita.
Okaasan no ofuru no kutsu de shoujo no ashi niwa ookisugimashita ga, shoujo no motteiru tatta hitotsu no kutsu nano desu.
Shoujo ga achira kochira sagashimashita ga, doushitemo mitsukarimasen.
Shikatanaku, hadashi no mama arukidashimashita.

Vocabulary

mukashi mukashi 昔々 --- Once upon a time
yuki 雪 --- snow
oomisoka 大晦日 --- New Year’s Eve
misuborashii みすぼらしい --- miserable
matchi マッチ --- match
shoujo 少女 --- girl
issoukenmei 一生懸命 --- earnestly
yobikakeru 呼びかける --- call to; speak to
ikaga いかが --- how what
onegai お願い --- please
basha 馬車 --- horse-drawn carriage
Abunai! 危ない! --- Watch out!
awateru あわてる --- be in a hurry
hazumi はずみ --- the moment
kutsu 靴 --- shoe
okaasan お母さん --- mother
ofuru お古 --- a used article
ashi 足 ---- foot
achira kochira あちらこちら --- here and there
doushitemo どうしても --- at any cost
shikatanaku しかたなく --- helplessly
hadashi 裸足 --- bare foot

Grammar

(1) “~ nagara” is a conjunction and used when the same person performs two actions simultaneously.

  • Watashi no chichi wa itsumo shinbun o yominagara, asagohan o tabemasu. 私の父はいつも新聞を読みながら、朝ごはんを食べます。 --- My father always reads a newspaper while eating his breakfast.
  • Tabenagara, hanasu no wa yoku arimasen. 食べながら、 話すのはよくありません。--- It is not good to talk with food in your mouth.
  • Kare wa warainagara, hanashi o kiite ita. 彼は笑いながら、話を聞いてくれた。 --- He was listing to me with a smile.
  • (2) “Ikaga desu ka” is a common phrase to ask how you are doing.

  • Chikagoro wa ikaga desu ka. 近頃はいかがですか。 --- How is everything lately?
  • Nihon wa ikaga deshita ka. 日本はいかがでしたか。 --- How did you enjoy Japan?
  • It can be also used when offering something to somebody. Here are some examples.

  • Koohii wa ikaga desu ka. コーヒーはいかがですか。 --- Would you like some coffee?
  • Kono tsugi no nichiyoubi wa ikaga desu ka. この次の日曜日はいかがですか。 --- How would next Sunday suit you?
  • (3) “Dareka” means “somebody” and “daremo” means “nobody”. “Ka” is used with an interrogative word or question word (what, when, where, who, why and how) and indicates a meaning such as something, anything, someone, and anyone.”

    nani (what) --- nanika (something; anything)
    itsu (when) --- itsuka (someday; some time)
    doko (where) --- dokoka (somewhere)
    dare (who) --- dareka (somebody; someone)

    “Mo” indicates total negation concerning a question of quality or quantity. It always accompanied by a negative verb.

    nani (what) --- nanimo (nothing)

  • Honya ni itta ga, nanimo kawanakatta. 本屋に言ったが、何も買わなかった。 --- I went to the bookstore, but I didn’t buy anything.
    doko (where) --- dokomo (nowhere)
  • Shuumatsu wa dokomo ikimasendeshita. 週末はどこも行きませんでした。 --- I didn’t go anywhere on the weekend.
    dare (who) --- daremo (nobody)
  • Asa hayai node, mada daremo gakkou ni inai. 朝早いので、まだ誰も学校にいない。 --- Since it is early morning, nobody is at school yet.

    (4) The Japanese use counters to count different types of objects. In the story above, you will find the examples using counters such as “ippon (for match)” and “ichidai (for a carriage).” “Hon/pon” is one of the counters, and used for long, thin objects like trees and pens. “Dai” is used for vehicles and machines. Click this link to learn more about Japanese counters.

    (5) “~ sugiru” is a suffix which describes “over~; too; to excess.” Here are some examples.

    chiisasugiru 小さすぎる --- too small
    hatarakisugiru 働きすぎる --- overwork

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