This phrase from a song "ano ko ga futteita makka na sukaafu" is gramatically correct? shouldnt be

ano ko ga makka na sukaafu o futteita ?

BTW, ko is translated as "girl" . Ko has many meanings, but I dont remember any of them being "girl". Shouldnt be "kid" here?


3 Answers 3


To add to psosuna's answer, it's worth noting that the line in question is not a sentence, grammatically speaking. It is a noun phrase, with スカーフ as the main or "head" noun and the preceding portions all describing the scarf. English makes use of relative clauses, with "that" used to coordinate, whereas Japanese allows modifying phrases to directly modify nouns.

Direct translation of the Japanese:

ano ko ga futte ita makka na sukāfu
that girl [subj] waving was pure-red [adj] scarf

An idiomatic English rendering, keeping the structure as a noun phrase:

the pure-red scarf that that girl was waving

  • 2
    This is the only correct answer so far.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 7:19
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    @Pablo English does have the concept of noun phrase (for example, "the lunch I ate" and "white cat" are noun phrases). People have difference understanding about what is a sentence. L'électeur hates to call this a sentence, and I tend to regard this as a minor sentence without a main predicate. Anyway this type of 体言止め is an important topic, and you should read the articles linked below your question carefully.
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:37
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    "Bright red" would be more idiomatic. @pablo: Japanese is always head final; if the last item is a noun, then it makes a noun phrase, if a verb, a verb phrase. Spanish (well, Romance languages in general) is almost the opposite: head initial. So you can probably translate this into Spanish by putting the words in the reverse order, but you will need to add relative pronouns. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 15:14
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    I actually disagree with this answer. Had to look up the lyrics to make sense of it. When we're speaking of the given phrase above, under general circumstances, you could consider it a "noun phrase." However, when music lyrics are written, 100% correct grammar isn't always particularly taken into account. The following phrase does not link to this one, nor is there a previous phrase as it is the opening line of the song. Therefore, I have to regard it as its own sentence, however "grammatically incorrect" it is. In speech, you might sometimes hear this formation, however.
    – psosuna
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:47
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    adding comment to mark that my disagreement is not because it is "incorrect", it's actually MORE correct in terms of general grammar. my disagreement comes from what I think is a misuse of grammar in these lyrics for the sake of providing a literary order (as poetry would, and as is commonly observed in several songs) and is something to be aware of as well.
    – psosuna
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:59

ano ko ga futteita makka na sukaafu

This is a part of lyrics of an inserted song to the animated movie Space Battleship Yamato (Japanese: 宇宙戦艦ヤマト Uchū Senkan Yamato, also called Cosmoship Yamato).

Not only I but most Japanese don't think the given phrase means ano ko ga makka na sukaafu o futteita.

It is a part of an apparently unfinished sentence but it is considered a part of a sentence omitting the important rest of the whole sentence, therefore the phrase itself gives us who read or sing it room to image.

The room would be filled with various things basically depend on the context surrounding the phrase and more importantly depend on the ability of the recipients.

Before I read the whole lyrics of the song, I imagined the whole or the complete sentence including the phrase might be like:

  • 私はあの娘が振っていた真っ赤なスカーフが忘れられない。
    I can not forget the bright red scarf that the girl was waving.
  • 私はあの娘が振っていた真っ赤なスカーフが目に焼き付いている。
    The bright red scarf that the girl was waving is branded on my mind.

"ano ko ga futteita makka na sukaafu" is gramatically correct?

Yes, the given phrase is gramatically perfectly correct as Japanese and it uses a technique in rhetoric, called a [体言止め]{taigendome} or "substantive stop" (to use a noun in the end of a phrase omitting an important part like a predicate or a verb), which gives the phrase momentum, reverberation and gives room to think.

As for ko, there are roughly three ways to use in Japanese.

The First one is very common. When you point your finger at a boy or a girl around under 10 to 12 years old, you would say "ano-ko or that kid/child".

The second one is used, when parents, especially a mother, talk about their son or daughter, even how old the "ko" may be, in a phrase such as: "ano-ko wa ima nani o shite-iru ka-shira?" "What is my son/daughter is doing now?"

As for the last one, ko in ano-ko in the given phrase, it means a girl which is written not 子 in kanji. There is not any rule neither in kun-yomi nor in on-yomi for 娘 to be read as "KO", I think, but we write "あの娘" and read it as "ano-KO" habitually.

Usually ano-ko is a set phrase which means that girl (あの娘 or あの女の子) not that child/kid (あの子), which is a girl as an object of love.



誰のためだと 思っているか
誰のためでも いいじゃないか
ラララ... 真っ赤なスカーフ


Two things to address here, I'll start with the easy one.

子(ko) means 'child' for certain, but Japanese people tend to view children as more or less as a feminine entity, regardless of the child's sex/gender, in the case of referring to them. In this case, 'child' and 'girl' are more or less synonymous.

As for the order of the sentence in the song, it is a literary device akin to using a semi-colon or comma in English, when the complete sentence is spoken and the subject given after. If you translate the sentence directly, you might end up with:

ano ko ga futteita makka na sukaafu
She was waving it, her bright red scarf

I'm making some assumption about the meanings of the words, without some additional context (what's the song?) I can't tell you exactly what they are describing.

  • youtube.com/watch?v=DTfxA4UJcX8 Makka na scarf is called
    – Pablo
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 2:09
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    「あの子が振っていた真っ赤なスカーフ」 is not even a sentence to begin with, but you translated it as if it were one without explaining why you would do so.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 7:17
  • reasoning being that that's all that was given. if someone only spoke this, that would be the context. if I knew more of what was there, I could make the inference that it's a sentence fragment.
    – psosuna
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:37
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    Poetry and songs often make use of phrases that do not form whole sentences. Japanese poetry and songs may do this more than English ones do, in part due to differences in style and culture, and differences in linguistic expectations -- broadly speaking, Japanese speakers are generally more comfortable with omission than English speakers are. By way of example in English, the lyrics for the Foo Fighter song Saint Cecilia contain multiple instances of noun phrases used in isolation, such as line 3, "Just an old eyesore". Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 20:27

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