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I sometimes find that songs liberally omit noun particles. As Japanese word order is somewhat free, this causes me to severely scratch my head. Song in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU4DkH77alw

For example, the first line:

色 あせた 青ににじむ 白い雲 遠い あの日 のいろ

(with spaces where the singer pauses).

There seems to be a huge amount of ways to parse this:

色があせて、青に滲む。白い雲が遠い。あの日の色。

色のあせた青に滲む。白い雲。遠いあの日の色。

etc, etc. How would a Japanese person read this at first glance? Is there some normative way to read case-unmarked Japanese?

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4  
色あせた is one word. –  dainichi Oct 15 '13 at 2:29

2 Answers 2

A native speaker here. Between the two ways you parsed the line, the second one is much better though still not perfect. The first period placed after the にじむ in your second attempt is unnecessary.

Nearly all native speaers would consider 色あせる or 色あせた as one word, therefore; we would not even think that a が or の is being omitted. All of 色あせた、青ににじむ and 白い modify the 雲.

What is 遠い is the 日, not the 雲, which makes your first parsing attempt incorrect. 「遠い日」 is a very common collocation. The あの serves to emphasize and specify the 遠い日.

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Hmm. I would easily parse it if it were あの遠い日, but somehow 遠いあの日 sound weird to me. Perhaps it's just because English can't say "far away that day", and あの in Japanese is just another 連体詞, so, yeah. –  user54609 Oct 15 '13 at 12:03

I had to consult with one of my friends regarding this (specifically regarding point 2), as it felt a little ambiguous to me, but now I've come to understand that it's not ambiguous.

[[[色あせた]青]ににじむ][白い雲]。[[遠い[あの日]]の]いろ。
[[[faded] blue]-DAT blur] [white clouds]. [[distant [that day]]-GEN] color.
Literal: 'The white clouds which blur into the faded blue. The colors of that distant day.'

  1. 色あせる is one word.

  2. にじむ semantically fits much better as a relative clause of 白い雲 because it would be rather weird for にじむ to not have a subject, since that verb describes the fading from the perspective of its subject into its indirect object, and there is such a nice subject (the white clouds) right next to it.

  3. As Tokyo Nagoya mentioned, 遠い日 is common.

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If you listen to the song though, your parsing sounds weird. あの日 seems to start in a new musical phrase so to speak. –  user54609 Oct 15 '13 at 12:06

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