The video is the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkfT0NMsGz0

Towards the beginning, it says:

むかしむかし ゆきぶかい やまおくに、
おじいさんと おばあさんが すんでいました。
ふたりは なかのよい ふうふでしたが、
とても びんぼうでした。

From what I've been told, ものの means although. So I understand the first sentence as: Although humble, the old man and the old lady lived. It really doesn't sound very logical to me. Am I missing something?


Yes, ものの means "although". However, in this sentence, you are parsing it wrong. It is:

しょうじきもの の おじいさん...

So it is really [正直者]{しょう・じき・もの}, which means "an honest person" or "a person of integrity" (正直 means "honest", not "humble").

  • Thanks for the explanation. What does もの do to しょうじき grammatically? Turn it into an adjective? – Daniel Mar 4 '15 at 18:57
  • I think it would just be considered a compound noun, but don't quote me on that. – istrasci Mar 4 '15 at 18:58

Conjunctions typically join two clauses (or at least appear at the end of one). Do you have a clause on either side of ものの? You do not, so this can't be the conjunction ものの, and you must be parsing it wrong, as istrasci says.

Instead, you should understand しょうじきもの as a compound word:

  • The head もの means ひと 'person'.
  • The modifier しょうじき describes what sort of person it is.

So the compound as a whole means 「しょうじきな ひと」.

What does の do, then? It's a type of copula; it does what's traditionally called "apposition". In short, it's saying that the おじいさん and おばあさん are しょうじきもの.

The entire noun phrase しょうじきものの おじいさんと おばあさん serves as the subject of the first sentence. The story introduces these two characters with a brief description. Note that if you want to come up with a translation that makes sense, you should use the entire sentence, including the bit at the beginning you left out (むかしむかし ゆきぶかい やまおくに).

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