Sakki rāmen-o tabeta-bakari-desu (But you’ve just had ramen)

Situation 1: A late Sunday afternoon at the Okubo house.

光男: おなかがすいた!晩御飯、まだ?

母: あら、もう?さっきラーメンを食べたばかりじゃない。

Mitsuo: Onaka-ga suita! Bangohan, mada?

Haha: Ara, mō? Sakki rāmen-o tabeta-bakari-ja nai.

Mitsuo: I’m hungry! Isn’t it dinner time yet?

Mother: What, already? But you’ve just had ramen.

Today we look at various ways of using the colloquial nouns さっき (a short while ago) and あと (after a while). さっき is the colloquial form of 先 (さき) and expresses a subjective length of time in a day, i.e., a length the speaker feels is rather short. It is used as a noun-modifier in the form さっきの, as in さっきの話 (はなし) は、わすれてください (Please forget what I said just now). But the adverbial form is not さっきに but さっき, as the mother says in Situation 1. In formal conversation, さきほど is used instead of さっき.

Situation 2: The Shibas are preparing to go hiking, with baby Jun.

夫:  えーっと、べんとうは入れたし、お菓子と、麦茶と…、あと、何かあったかな?

妻: あ、じゅんの紙おむつも入れなくちゃ。

Otto: Ētto, bentō-wa ireta-shi, okashi-to, mugicha-to… ato, nanika atta-kana?

Tsuma: A, Jun-no kami-omutsu-mo irenakucha.

Husband: Well, I’ve packed our lunch boxes, sweets, bottles of barley tea … and, anything else?

Wife: Oh, I have to pack Jun’s paper diapers, too.

あと is a noun that is used in both spoken and written language, and in casual as well as formal conversations. あと is used in the pattern of X (noun) のあと and means “after X,” as in 食事 (しょくじ, meal) のあと (“after the meal”). Its noun-modifying form is あとの, as in 食事のあとのコーヒー (after-dinner coffee). Its adverbial form is あとで and あとに. Here are examples of both, respectively: 食事のあとで/あとにコーヒーを飲 (の) んだ ( I drank coffee after the meal). In this pattern, で/に is often omitted. Using あと adverbially, the pattern of あとX (numeral) expresses that X is still left, as in 定年 (ていねん) まであと三年 (さんねん) ある (There are three years left before I hit retirement age). The あと that the husband uses in Situation 2 is in the colloquial style, and works like a conjunction particle. It is used to add something to the former sentence. One more example: ビールとジュースは買 (か) った。あと 、ミネラルウォーターもあったほうがいいな。 (I bought beer and juice. Also, mineral water might be a good idea).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Sere tells colleagues Ms. Tamachi and Ms. Gray about an e-mail he got from Mr. Mita, who is in hospital.

セレ: さっき三田(みた)くんからメールが来(き)て、たいくつだから、みんなでみまいに来(き)てほしいって。

田町: 盲腸(もうちょう)の手術(しゅじゅつ)だから、あと二、三日(にさんにち)で退院(たいいん)でしょ? 甘(あま)えてる。

セレ: 彼女(かのじょ)にふられたばかりだから、甘えさせてあげようよ。

グレイ: たいくつしているんなら、何(なに)か、本(ほん) を持(も)っていくといいね。

田町: セレさんがおもしろいと思(おも)ったフランス語(ご)の小説(しょうせつ)を貸(か)してあげれば?

セレ: 外国語(がいこくご)はおことわりだって。田町(たまち)さんのマンガを貸(か)してほしいそうだよ。

田町: マンガなんか、私(わたし)、持っていない。

セレ:  あと、クロスワードパズルとか。

グレイ: 私のは英語(えいご)だし、田町さんは、パズルやらないし…。

セレ: じゃあ、小(ちい)さい造花(ぞうか)にでもするか。ぼくたちの顔(かお)を見(み)せるのが、一番 (いちばん)のプレゼントだからね。

Sere: A little while ago I got an email from Mr. Mita asking us to visit him in hospital, because he’s bored.

Tamachi: I suppose that now he’s had his appendix operation, he’ll be able to leave the hospital in a few days. Isn’t that spoiling him a bit?

Sere: Let’s indulge him, since he broke up with his girlfriend very recently.

Gray: As he’s bored, maybe we should take him some books.

Tamachi: Mr. Sere, why don’t you lend him that French novel that you said was interesting?

Sere: He says he doesn’t want anything in a foreign language. He wants to borrow Ms. Tamachi’s comics.

Tamachi: I don’t have any comics.

Sere: And, crossword puzzles?

Gray: Mine are in English, and Ms. Tamachi doesn’t do puzzles.

Sere: Alright then, why don’t we just take some small artificial flowers, since the best present is surely just the fact that we are visiting him?

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