Language | WELL SAID

Keep on keepin' on with the help of 'mama'

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Kurumaisu-ni suwatta-mama unten-dekiru kuruma-ga hatsubai-sareru-sō-desu. (I heard that a car is going on sale that you can drive while sitting in a wheelchair.)

Situation 1: After concluding some business, Mr. Tien chats with his client Mr. Suzuki.

ティエン: 車いすに座ったまま乗り込んで運転できる車が発売 されるそうですよ。

鈴木: それは素晴らしいですけど、まだ一般人には手が届か ない値段でしょうね。

Tien: Kurumaisu-ni suwatta-mama norikonde unten-dekiru kuruma-ga hatsubai-sareru-sō-desu-yo.

Suzuki: Sore-wa subarashii-desu-kedo, mada ippanjin-niwa te-ga todokanai nedan-deshō-ne.

Tien: I heard that a car is going on sale that you can drive while sitting in a wheelchair.

Suzuki: That’s great, but I guess it will cost so much that it will be out of reach for the average person.

Today we will introduce the pattern Xまま, which expresses a continuing state. When X is a verb, it should be in the ta-form to express that the result of an action (X) is still continuing. For example, パジャマを着(き)たまま朝(あさ)ごはんを食(た)べた shows that the speaker makes action 着る (putting the pajamas on) and after that eats breakfast in said pajamas, without changing clothes. X can be the nai-form of the verb, too, as in あれから、ずっと父(ちち)に会(あ)えないままだ (I haven’t seen [met] my father since then).

Situation 2: Mrs. Okubo snaps at her children, who have left their things scattered around the living room. Then, Takako says:

たか子: お母さんは、ほんとに口うるさいんだから。お父さんは、よくこんなにうるさい人と結婚したね。

母: 私だって結婚したころは、おとなしくて、エレガントな女性だったのよ。エレガントなままでいられなかったのは、誰のせいだと思ってるの?

Takako: Okāsan-wa, honto-ni kuchiurusai-n-dakara. Otōsan-wa, yoku konna-ni urusai hito-to kekkon-shita-ne.

Haha: Watashi-datte kekkon-shita koro-wa, otonashikute, eregantona josei-datta-no-yo. Ereganto-na mama-de irarenakatta-no-wa, dare-no sei-da-to omotte-ru-no?

Takako: Mom, you’re such a nag! How did Dad dare marry a nagging woman like this?

Mother: I was a quiet, elegant lady when I got married. Who do you think prevented me from staying elegant?

When X is an i-adjective, na-adjective or noun, the pattern Xまま expresses that the state of X has been still continuing. X should be in its noun-modifying form, as in the mother’s エレガントなまま (staying elegant), or as in 死(し)ぬまで現役(げんえき)のままでい たい ( I’d like to stay in the workforce until I die).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Sere asks Mr. Mita about yesterday’s university reunion, which Mr. Sere could not attend.

三田: 学生(がくせい)時代(じだい)に付(つ)き合(あ)っていた 彼女(かのじょ)が出席(しゅっせき)していたんだ。タイムスリップしたみたいに、あの時(とき)のままだった。

セレ: 彼女、天使(てんし)みたいに、かわいい人(ひと)だったなあ。みんな、三田(みた)くんをうらやましがっていたよ。どうして別(わか)れたの?

三田: 別れたというか…、卒業(そつぎょう)してから連絡(れんらく)が取(と)れなくなっちゃって…。ずっと心(こころ)に引(ひ)っかかっていたから、きのう思(おも)い切(き)って彼女に聞(き)いてみたんだ。そしたら…、ぼくと付き合いながら、IT企業(きぎょう)の社長(しゃちょう)とも付き合っていたんだって。

セレ: えっ、それって二股(ふたまた)…?

三田: うん。しかも、奥(おく)さんのいる人。卒業後(ご)、ぼくと結婚(けっこん)するより社長の愛人(あいじん)になるほうを選(えら)んだそうだ。それで、去年(きょねん)、社長の奥さんが亡(な)くなったから、とうとう結婚(けっこん)できたって、かわいい顔(かお)でニコニコして言(い)うんだ。

セレ: うーん…、それは、知(し)らないままでいるほうがよかったなあ。

Mita: My old girlfriend attended. She was just the same as she was back then, as if we had slipped back in time.

Sere: She was as cute as an angel! Everyone envied you. But why did you two split up?

Mita: Well, we didn’t break up, but after graduation it was impossible to get hold of her. I never could work out why, so I plucked up the courage to ask yesterday, and she said that she’d been going out with the president of an IT firm at the same time as she was seeing me.

Sere: What? Two-timing?

Mita: Yeah. Moreover, he wasn’t single. After graduation she chose to become his mistress rather than marry me. And, when his wife died last year, she could finally marry him, she said — with a smile on her cute face.

Sere: Hmm, it would’ve been better not to have known that!