Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm pretty sure ~れに~れて is a grammar form that I have studied in my JLPT textbooks, but I came across it again in a text and I can't for the life of me find it again in my grammar dictionaries. I also looked on JGram, but couldn't find it there.

The particular case I came across was:

人間{にんげん}は昔{むかし}、遅{おく}れに遅{おく}れて自{みずか}らの年{とし}を自覚{じかく}する。

Without knowing what 遅{おく}れに遅{おく}れて is doing, I feel I'm missing an important nuance.

I think it's something like, "From long ago, people have been slow to be conscious of their own age." But how is the above sentence different from this one:

人間{にんげん}は昔{むかし}、遅{おそ}くて自{みずか}らの年{とし}を自覚{じかく}する。

...?

share|improve this question
1  
Ref: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/1856/78 –  istrasci May 9 '12 at 14:30
    
@istrasci: Aha! That's what I needed to know. Thanks for that link (I knew I saw this somewhere). Should this question be closed as a duplicate? –  Dave M G May 9 '12 at 15:03
    
Probably, unless 遅れに遅れて has some idiomatic meaning or something else applicable that the other post doesn't address. –  istrasci May 9 '12 at 16:37
    
@istrasci: Okay, I've voted to close it. :) –  Dave M G May 10 '12 at 0:10
    
I'm curious about the context of this sentence. Where did you find it? At first, the combination of 昔 and 自覚する seemed awkward to me, but I guess it's possible if it's supposed to mean something like "At some point in the past, man finally became conscious of his age". –  dainichi May 10 '12 at 0:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

An attempt to answer your question about how the two sentences are different:

遅くて means something like "because it's late" and doesn't make much sense in the sentence.

遅く might make more sense semantically, but doesn't seem to put enough emphasis on the being late "Long ago, humans become conscious of their age late". The "late" doesn't quite know what it wants (Sorry, can't explain this much better).

遅れに遅れて tries to capture the sense of "finally" or "after much delay" and therefore implies that man should have become conscious about his age earlier. "Long ago, humans finally become conscious of their age".

It would be easier to be certain if I had more context for your sentence.

share|improve this answer

My apologies if someone already noticed this, but I believe the actual sentence was 人間は皆、遅れに遅れて自らの年を自覚する。That would explain why people got confused over 昔. I just came across the same unknown phrase in 短期マスター日本語能力試験ドリルN1.

share|improve this answer

This is one example of the common pattern: V1 + ni + V2. Both V1 and V2 are the same verb; however, V1 in in 連用形 (adverbial, conjunctive form)*. It expresses emphasis or that an event continued for a long time. You may generally remove the (V1 + ni) portion without loosing much of the semantic meaning. A much more common example is 待ちに待った.

*連用形: The form of the verb that -masu attaches to. yom-u --> yomi(masu), tabe-ru --> tabe(masu) This should really go into a FAQ.

share|improve this answer
    
For reference, linked is a decent study of the grammar: lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/nichigen/issue/pdf/10/10-04.pdf –  Dono May 9 '12 at 12:45
    
Thank you very much for answering. Unfortunately, though, while you give a lot of information, it doesn't really answer the question. –  Dave M G May 9 '12 at 13:39
    
Your question is: "But how is the above sentence different from this one: 人間は昔、遅くて自らの年を自覚じかくする。" And my response is "You may generally remove the (V1 + ni) portion without loosing much of the semantic meaning." From that you should be able to conclude that it is 遅れて and not 遅くて, and the meaning is the same minus the emphasis. The intent of my full response was to give you the tools to interpret the grammatical construction so that it can be understood in other contexts as well. –  Dono May 9 '12 at 20:25

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.