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Chotto, kōen-wo sanpo-shite-kimasu

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Chotto, kōen-wo sanpo-shite-kimasu. (I’m just taking a walk in the park.)

Situation 1: On Sunday, Mr. Shiba is going out to take a walk.

夫: ちょっと、公園を散歩してくるよ。

妻: それなら、スーパーの前を通るでしょ。おしょうゆを買ってきて。

Otto: Chotto, kōen-wo sanpo-shite-kuru-yo.

Tsuma: Sore-nara, sūpā-no mae-wo tōru-desho. O-shōyu-wo katte-kite.

Husband: I’m just taking a walk in the park.

Wife: Then, you’ll pass the supermarket, won’t you? Please buy a bottle of soy sauce for me.

Today we explain various meanings and usages of the particle を when it is used with a verb. Usually the particle を is used to mark the object of the transitive verb. For instance, in the sentence ジョンはりんごをたべる (John eats an apple), たべる (to eat) is the transitive verb and affects りんご (apple); thus, を functions to mark the object of the transitive verb grammatically. But some intransitive verbs, which have no grammatical object, go with を; these intransitive verbs are mostly verbs that express movement or transfer, e.g., 歩(ある)く (to walk), 走(はし)る (to run), 曲(ま)がる (to turn), 渡(わた)る (to cross), 進(すす)む (to march), etc., as in the husband’s 公園(こうえん)をさんぽする and the wife’s スーパーのまえをとおる in Situation 1, or as in 信号(しんごう, signal)をわたる (cross the signal). In this usage, を shows the place where the movement occurs.

Situation 2: Mr. and Mrs. Okubo are at home, having a chat over a cup of coffee.

夫: 大学を出た後、正規の就職をしないで、バイトで暮らす若者が増えているなあ。

妻: 就職しないんじゃなくて、できないのよ。光男が社会に出るころには、景気が回復しているといいけど。

Otto: Daigaku-wo deta ato, seiki-no shūshoku-wo shinaide, baito-de kurasu wakamono-ga fuete-iru-nā.

Tsuma: Shūshoku-shinai-n-ja nakute, dekinai-no-yo. Mitsuo-ga shakai-ni deru koro-niwa, keiki-ga kaifuku-shite iru-to ii-kedo.

Husband: After leaving university, many youngsters don’t become regular employees but live off part time jobs.

Wife: It’s not that they don’t but they can’t. I pray for a future when the economy of our country improves before our son Mitsuo enters into society.

を with a movement verb has another meaning, i.e., separation, as in 国(くに, home country/hometown)を離(はな)れる (to leave one’s hometown), しごと (job) を離れる (to quit a job), 家(いえ, house/home)を出(で)る (to go out of one’s house), etc. This also applies to the following, though they are the intransitive verbs and not actually movement verbs: 学校(がっこう, school)を卒業(そつぎょう)する/出る (to graduate from school), 会議(かいぎ, meeting)を休(やす)む (to be absent from a meeting).

Bonus Dialogue: Sere and his girlfriend Yuri are on a date and come out of a museum into a park in the early evening.

セレ: うわあ、きれいな夕焼(ゆうや)け! あ、カラスが空(そら)を渡(わた)っていく。

ゆり: みんなでおうちに帰(かえ)るのね。…そういえば、セレはずいぶん長(なが)く帰国(きこく)していないね。

セレ: 国(くに)を出(で)てから7年(ねん)。遠(とお)いから、一度(いちど)しか帰(かえ)っていないよ。

ゆり: このあいだヨーロッパに出張(しゅっちょう)したとき、ちょっと海(うみ)を渡(わた)ればよかったのに。

セレ: それは考(かんが)えたんだけど、スケジュールがタイトだったから。

ゆり: お母(かあ)さん、セレに会(あ)いたいでしょうね。

セレ: うん…。[ひとりごと] 国には母(はは)がいるけど、日本(にほん)にはゆりがいる。将来(しょうらい)ぼくが国で暮(く)らそうと決(き)めたら、ゆりは、あんな遠い国まで、いっしょに来(き)てくれるだろうか…?

Sere: My goodness! What a beautiful sunset! Oh, the crows are flying across the sky.

Yuri: Perhaps they’re going home ltogether. …That reminds me, you haven’t been home for a while, have you, Sere?

Sere: It’s been seven years since I left my country. Since then, I’ve visited my hometown only once because it’s so far away.

Yuri: You should’ve just crossed the sea when you went to Europe on your business trip the other day.

Sere: I thought so too, but the business schedule was too tight.

Yuri: Your mother must want to see you.

Sere: Yeah…. [To himself] In my hometown, there is Mom. But Yuri is here in Japan. In the future, if I decide to live in my country, will Yuri come with me to such a faraway place?