13 - I wanna take you out.

On my site and in my emails, I often talk about utilizing new & fascinating technology in order to streamline our language studies.

What I don't talk about much, though, is how much the development of language-related technology scares me.

A few years ago, I started teaching English in Tokyo.

I met hundreds and hundreds of students.

And each time I met a new student, I asked them this one question:

Why are you studying English?

Now, once in a very long while, I would get an awesome answer to this question:

I want to connect with people from all around the world.

I want to travel and challenge my brain and become a better person.

I want to expand my way of thinking.

These were, invariably, the awesome students.

But--I am sorry to say--most students were decidedly NOT awesome, and that's why 90% of those conversations went like this:

Me: Why are you studying English?
Zombie Student: For my job.

And the more we talked, the more I realized that these people weren't really interested in learning English at all. It was just a task, an assignment that their boss gave them (in many cases, this was the actual situation, and I'd get answers like, "My boss said I must study English").

With these students in mind, I see the rapid development of translation technology, and I worry that some day language-learning will die.

If no one cares about learning a new language, then eventually everyone will just let the robots do it for us.

But, you know, I can't worry about that.

I can tell myself that I, at least, will keep studying, keep pushing my brain to new heights... or trying to. ^_^

And one item that can cheer me up a bit is the difficult, human nuances of languages keeping the robots at bay.

One such nuance is in the sentence I introduced yesterday:

tsurete itte agetai n da.
I wanna take you out.

連れる (tsureru) means something like "to take," or "to lead."

行く (iku) means "to go."

あげる (ageru) means "to give."

tsurete itte ageru
To lead & go & give...

Which, in a slightly better translation, might become:

"(Give you the gift of) taking you out."

But we don't say あげる (ageru), "to give."

Rather, we say あげたい (agetai), "to want to give:"

あげ → あげ- → あげたい
ageruage- → agetai

tsurete itte agetai
I wanna take you out.

I think a robot might actually be able to handle that phrase.

No, the words don't match up all that nicely between English and Japanese.

But robots are getting pretty smart, yo.

Still, I think the end of this sentence will be throwing robots off for a while, this ~んだ (~n da).

If we have this sentence:

tsurete itte agetai

We translate it as "I wanna take you out." But that's the exact same translation we're using for the version with ~んだ (~n da), too:

tsurete itte agetai n da.
I wanna take you out.

Why, then, do we even need ~んだ (~n da)?

To answer this, I think we need to look at the whole conversation, which went like this:

gochisou suru yo.
I'll treat you.

warikan demo ii kedo.
We can just split it.

tsurete itte agetai n da.
I wanna take you out.

I like to refer to ~んだ (~n da) as the "だ (da) of explanation."

See, if the speaker in this conversation did not add ~んだ (~n da) to the end of that sentence, they would kind of sound like a robot--because the nuance would be that they're stating a simple fact, without the underlying meaning of, "So (please) let me treat you."

Because that is, in fact, what is being said here, right?

A: I'll treat you.
B: We can just split it.
A: I wanna take you out (so please let me do so).

A: ごちそうするよ。
B: 割り勘でもいいけど
A: 連れて行ってあげたいんだ

A: gochisou suru yo.
B: wakikan demo ii kedo.
A: tsurete itte agetai n da.

Does that make sense?

I hope so, because I’m not totally sure of how else to explain it.

I talk about this "だ (da) of explanation" quite a bit in this article on my site.

More importantly, you may be asking yourself the following:

How do I use ~んだ (~n da) like a total boss?

Depending on your frame of mind, my answer to this question will be either encouraging or discouraging:

Just pick it up naturally over time.

Every time you hear someone say ~んだ (~n da), you should ask yourself:What is the non-robot nuance of this sentence?

Because it's in there, somewhere.

By the way, if you're talking to a female, there's a good chance that she won't say ~んだ (~ n da), but rather just ~の (~no).

Ending a sentence with の (no) can be tricky in Japanese, because it's okay for both guys and girls when asking a question, BUT, be careful, because:

Ending a sentence that is not a question with の is super feminine.

So in the sentence we just saw a minute ago, ~あげたいんだ (~agetai n da) might become ~あげたいの (~agetai no).

Here's the full sentence:

tsurete itte agetai no.
I wanna take you out

Please take note that the の (no) does not have a rising intonation, which would make this a (rather strange) question.

So have I thoroughly confused you today?

If so, I am oh-so sorry.

But at least this confusing stuff will keep the robots at bay, right?

Since we haven't really looked at too much new language, here are a couple of examples of 連れて行く (tsurete iku):

otouto wo haishasan ni tsurete itta.
I took my (little) brother to the dentist.
(Literally: "brother を" + "dentist に" + "took.")

teninsan wa eki made tsurete itte kureta.
The shop staff showed me all the way to the station.
(Literally: "shop staff は" + "station まで" + "took" + "gave (me).")

Bonus Phrases:

ともだち たくさん つれて きて。
Bring lots of friends with you.
Literally: friends + many + bring

いっしょ に いく?
Wanna go together?
Literally: together + go?

これ あげる。
This is for you. // Here, you can have this.
Literally: this + give