I have this sentence:


It comes from a fable about the Chinese Zodiac that I'm trying to translate into English.

I have this basic word-by-word translation:

そして - and, used to connect sentences

先{さき} - first

来{き}た - past tense form of 来る, come

者{もの} - person

から - from

十二番目{じゅうにばんめ} - twelfth

まで - only

その - that

年{とし} - year

代将{だいしょう} - leader(?)

しよう - ?

I'm curious as to how:

a) I would translate しよう at the end of the sentence, and

b) how this sentence is structured. I understand the basic meaning only because I can put the seeming mess of words together, but I don't really understand how they fit together the way they do and why. Does 先に来た者から十二番目 just mean "first through twelfth", and what would be the correct translation of 者 in that case, person? But why does it come after 来た? Any help appreciated, ありがとうございます!

  • 2
    This question contains a grammar point that was asked about just a few hours ago (nice coincidence) What is this と?. It seems that the entire から…まで expression is treated as a noun (I'd love affirmation of this from all you more knowledgeable people :))
    – G-Cam
    Nov 21 '17 at 4:24

I'd rather not do a strict analogous translation, but let's try to break your sentence down into sensible segments:


先に来た者から from he/that came first

十二番目(の者)までを、 until the twelfth (person/being),

「その年の大将」と as "the head/representative of that respective year"

しよう。 let's (make/designate)

To answer your question:

1) しよう is the volitional form of "to do". From the context of the sentence it would mean "Let's do (something)".

2) To reorganize my attempt at the sentence breakdown, it would roughly come as

Thus, let us designate those who/which came, first down to the twelfth, as the representative of each (of the twelve) year(s).

  • Seems to make sense. So in the phrase 先に来た者から十二番目まで, 「来た者」translates as "he who comes", while 「Aに~からB」translates as from A to B, correct?
    – norskie7
    Nov 21 '17 at 4:45
  • 先に来た者becomes your entire 'A' phrase, so that's simply AからBまで.
    – keithmaxx
    Nov 21 '17 at 7:14
  • Okay, and 先 is just the word describing the time/location of 来た, which is why に is used. I understand now. ありがとうございます!
    – norskie7
    Nov 21 '17 at 7:18
  • @keithmaxx If you read the story, you will find the remark is done before the competition and 来た doesn't mean past tense but completion.
    – user4092
    Nov 21 '17 at 7:38
  • If it satisfies your question, accepting or promoting the answer would be appreciated. Thanks.
    – keithmaxx
    Nov 21 '17 at 8:37

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