479 - とか

We just looked at とか in an N3 lesson.

But there is another とか that shows up in JLPT N2!


JLPT N2: とか ([hearsay marker])

The とか we're looking at in this lesson is quite similar to the "そうだ of hearsay"... which we haven't had a lesson on yet.

_(-_-)_ Sorry.

The "そうだ of hearsay" will eventually be covered in an N4 lesson. We did briefly look at it back in this lesson, though: [NDL #208] - そう、よう、らしい、and みたい.

Anyway, what I mean by "hearsay" is reporting on information that you have encountered elsewhere. In most cases, we'll be translating this as "I heard... [something]."

Like this:


このあいだのコンサートは大盛況だったとか。よかったですね。
このあいだ の コンサート は だいせいきょう だった とか。 よかった です ね。
I heard the concert the other day was a big success. Congratulations.
Literally: “the other day + の + concert + は + great success + was + とか. + was good + です + ね.”


Using そうだ (or more specifically, using そうです, since we're being polite), we would say:


このあいだのコンサートは大盛況だったそうですね。よかったですね。
このあいだ の コンサート は だいせいきょう だった そうです ね。 よかった です ね。
I heard the concert the other day was a big success. Congratulations.
Literally: “the other day + の + concert + は + great success + was + そうですね. + was good + です + ね.”


The big question: Are these two sentences the same?

Yes... and no.

Technically speaking, the version with とか expresses less certainty than the version with そうです. Maybe we could have given it one of these awkward translations:


このあいだのコンサートは大盛況だったとか。よかったですね。
このあいだ の コンサート は だいせいきょう だった とか。 よかった です ね。
I heard the concert the other day was a big success or something. Congratulations.
I heard something to the effect that the concert the other day was a big success. Congratulations.
I heard something along the lines of the concert the other day being a big success. Congratulations.

Literally: “the other day + の + concert + は + great success + was + とか. + was good + です + ね.”


Those all sounded overly translated to me. It seemed more natural to just go with:

I heard the concert the other day was a big success. Congratulations.

So that's what I did. And we're actually using "I heard" for all of our translations in this lesson.

But keep in mind that this "I heard" is not very definitive. とか is being used to say "I heard something along the lines of..." "I heard... [thing] ...or something" "I heard something to the effect that..."


Here's another example of this とか, this time in a dialogue:

A:
最近の若いカップルは気軽に同棲をするとか
さいきん の わかい カップル は きがるに どうせい を する とか。
I heard that young couples nowadays are pretty causal about living together.
Literally: “recently + の + young + couple + は + freely / readily / casually + living together + を + do + とか.”


B:
へえ、そうなんですか。
へえ、 そうなんですか。
Oh, really?
Literally: “oh, really?, + is that so?”


By the way, translating Person A's sentence was kind of a nightmare for me. I was struggling to put 気軽に into English in this sentence naturally. Just look at all of these translations:

気軽に
きがるに
freely; readily; cheerfully; without any sense of hesitation; without reserve; without treating it as a big deal; casually


Perhaps the best translation is one of the following, or perhaps it's something that Rei and I couldn't come up with:


最近の若いカップルは気軽に同棲をするとか
さいきん の わかい カップル は きがるに どうせい を する とか。
I heard that nowadays young couples live together quite readily.
I heard that young couples nowadays live together like it's no big deal.
I heard that young couples nowadays are pretty laid-back about living together.
I heard that young couples nowadays are pretty quick to live together.

Literally: “recently + の + young + couple + は + freely / readily / casually + living together + を + do + とか.”


Yikes.


Is とか starting to make sense?

Perhaps you're wondering what kind of word can come before とか.

This is an easy one: Usually とか will be preceded by something in plain form.

In other words, there is no clear rule about what can come before とか, but usually you'll find that it's a verb or copula (e.g. だ, だった) in plain form.

Sounds like a free invitation to not even worry about grammar rules.



あの会社で働くには、少なくとも英語とスペイン語が話せなければならないとか
あの かいしゃ で はたらく には、 すくなくとも えいご と スペインご が はなせなければならない とか。
I heard that to work at that company, you need to be able to speak English and Spanish at a minimum.
Literally: “that + company + で + work + には, + at least + English + と + Spanish + が + must be able to speak + とか.”



A:
友達に聞いたんだけど、行方不明事件のほとんどは宇宙人の仕業だとか
ともだち に きいた んだけど、 ゆくえふめい じけん の ほとんど は うちゅうじん の しわざ だ とか。
I heard from a friend that aliens are responsible for the majority of missing person cases.
Literally: “friend + に + heard + んだ + けど, + missing person + case + の + most of + は + aliens + の + deed + だ + とか.”

B:
宇宙人?ほんとかなあ。
うちゅうじん? ほんと かなあ。
Aliens? I don't know about that.
Literally: “aliens? + true + かなあ.”
Note: The speaker doubts that what the listener said was true.


And we're done!

Make sure to read all of the examples and their literal breakdowns. They can teach you a lot more than I can in my feeble attempts to explain things.

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