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In one song (lyrics link) the line "Watashitachi no kore ga precious heartbeat" ("It's our precious heartbeat") appears, and I'm not sure how best to analyze it due to one particular grammatical structure.

"kore ga precious heartbeat" is clearly a straightforward verbless copula - "it's our precious heartbeat". What I'm unsure of is how to syntactically interpret "watashitachi no" ("our"). Thus far my best guess is that it's a wa-less topic.

A more straightforward interpretation would be "this of ours". But is this even plausible? I tried searching on WWWJDIC for "no kore" and found only 3 examples, and all three of them could plausibly be explained as something other than that. So at this point I don't have any evidence that that's possible. Is there some structure in Japanese where "watashitachi no kore" could be a phrase - and if so, what is the structure in question?

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Forgot to add: or is it most likely that this is simply one of those cases of grammatical warping often found in songs and poetry of any language? –  Justin Olbrantz Feb 27 '12 at 5:22
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The fact that there is no copula superficially doesn't necessarily mean that there is no copula underlyingly. Copula is one of the things that most often gets omitted. –  user458 Feb 27 '12 at 14:39
    
This is only a supplement to all of the answers here, so I'll leave it as a general comment. Remember that Japanese can be "re-arranged" a lot, and it may seem more textbook-like to say "kore ga watashitachi no precious heartbeat"... The meaning is more or less the same, but maybe it was phrased the other way to emphasize or de-emphasize a certain part of the sentence. Or maybe it just fit better with the music. –  atlantiza Feb 28 '12 at 6:50
    
Related: Varying word order for stylistic effect –  Flaw Aug 7 '12 at 6:06

3 Answers 3

"no" performs its role as a genitive case particle.

This structure may appear more familiar/recognizable:

これが私たちのprecious heartbeat(だ)

(the fact that there is no copula superficially doesn't necessarily mean that there is no copula)

"私たちのこれがprecious heartbeat" is one of the possible orders. The possessor can shift (in a relatively non-complex sentence) and maintain the same meaning.

It is これが+[私たち++precious heartbeat]+() then the modifier noun 私たち shifts to the front without changing its relation to the modified noun precious heartbeat. It is still underlyingly [私たちのprecious heartbeat].


Genitive Case: It is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun. A genitive construction involves two nouns - the head (modified) noun and the modifier noun. The modifier noun modifies the head noun by expressing some property of it.

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Now I have to look up what the role of a genitive case particle is. –  dotnetN00b Feb 27 '12 at 14:24
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Now that I've looked that up. I have question. Could it also be: ”これが私たちのprecious heartbeat(だ).”? Or did I change the sentence or make it ungrammatical? –  dotnetN00b Feb 27 '12 at 14:27
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@dotnetN00b Yes. That should be the correct order. I don't know if the order given in the question is a typo or intended. If it is intended, then the original sentence was like what you suggest, and the possessor has moved to the front. –  user458 Feb 27 '12 at 14:41
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@dotnetN00b. Yes it is grammatical. That is one of the possible orders. The possessor can shift (in a relatively non-complex sentence) and maintain the same meaning. –  Flaw Feb 27 '12 at 15:22
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@dotnetN00b. I do not think that the genitive phrase can go to either one. It is これが[私たちのprecious heartbeat](だ) then the modifier noun 私たち shifts to the front without changing its relation to the modified noun precious heartbeat. It is still underlyingly 私たちのprecious heartbeat. –  Flaw Feb 28 '12 at 4:03

For some reason I don't seem to be able to comment on Flaw's non-answer, so I'm writing my own non-answer in response.

"There is nothing special going on here. "no" performs its role as a genitive case particle.

Genitive Case: It is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun. A genitive construction involves two nouns - the head (modified) noun and the modifier noun. The modifier noun modifies the head noun by expressing some property of it."

...yes, my entire analysis (and confusion) was based on the fact that "watashitachi no" was indeed a genitive phrase. As stated, my question was how this genitive phrase ended up at the beginning of the sentence, separated from the nominal it modifies - "precious heartbeat" - by the subject of the clause. You seem to indicate in a comment that this is possible (without assuming that it was topicialized, as I wondered about). If you could explain the rules governing such movement in Japanese, that would answer the question I asked.

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In lyrics, almost anything is possible. It could very well be that the "kore ga" is just in there to provide emphasis to which the "watashitachi no" is attached. If you took out the "kore ga", the line would still make sense. Alternatively, the "kore ga" could be something like "kore no" attached along with the previous "watashitachi no" possessive statement. Anyhow, the possessive "no" can be used with clauses... as well as nouns. –  summea Feb 28 '12 at 4:28
    
You are right. There is something going on here. Is 私のこれがペンです the same as これが私のペンです?Personally I think not. The first means 'This thing of mine is a pen'. The second means 'This is my pen'. What this song title means is another matter -- I suspect it's taking poetic liberties with ordinary language -- but as far as grammar is concerned, I don't think you can say that 'nothing is going on here'. –  Bathrobe Mar 1 '12 at 2:42

The particle が can also act as の.

For example: 我{わ}が国{くに} ("my country") can also be written as わたしの国. (cf. example source)

So, in the example sentence from the lyrics posted, it could potentially also be written like this:

わたしたちのこれのprecious heartbeat.

But for something artistic, variety might look better than repetition. I see this が usage most often in poetry or lyrics.

The が here could be being used to place emphasis on the "THIS is our precious heartbeat" part, as well.

Note for the anonymous downvoters: just a reminder that song lyrics (as well as poetry,) can often be wide open to interpretation. Unless one talks to the song writer to get the original intent behind a line in a song, lyrical interpretation is mostly speculation. Even when the original meaning is found out from an author, there still may be more ways to read a line than the author intended.

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Anyone care to explain the downvote here? –  summea Feb 27 '12 at 17:08
    
Or the downvotes? –  summea Feb 27 '12 at 18:39
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Did not downvote, but I think the sentiment is that this is highly unlikely. –  Zhen Lin Feb 28 '12 at 0:23
    
@ZhenLin Thanks for the response. I welcome opinions... but it's hard to know what people are thinking without comments along with downvotes. :) Like I was saying earlier, one of the hard things about translating lyrics (or poetry,) is that lyrics and poetry are often different than normal phrases or word/sentence/thought order. –  summea Feb 28 '12 at 0:30
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It is also used like this in place names. ~ヶ丘 is rather common. –  Ian Feb 28 '12 at 3:14

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