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iru/aru [animate/non-animate]?

Oct 30, 2009

    1. I'm not sure if this has ever been brought up before, but having struggled in the situation [and ended up embarrassing] myself, it's been on my mind alot recently..

      In Japanese, most sentances involving your dolls whereabouts would need to be ended with either 'iru' or 'aru', one referring to an animate object and the other referring to inanimate [iru and aru both referring to something being].
      I'm a firm believer in my boys and girls having souls, or atleast speaking about them on a human level, but got alot of puzzled looks when trying to explain to a Japanese friend about them and using 'iru'. Hopefully she just thought my Japanese was bad, not that I was insane :sweat

      But I'm very curious if, if faced with the choice [I don't know much about other languages, perhaps others have this issue too ^^;] which term you would use. And also, if you would generally refer to them as an animate object, would you still if in a non-dolly persons company?

      EDIT ;; I suppose I didn't explain this as well as I could. As there's been some questioning over using what would be correct in respect to the language, that wasn't really.. in respect to using the language correctly you most likely would say inanimate. This is basically a 'it' or 'he/she' debate, but I said it somewhere down there.. I used the iru/aru as an example because in English there isn't really any need for it to be forced as either an animate or inanimate object, or to use the 'it' 'he/she' when you could simply say 'my doll', where as iru/aru describes the being of the doll rather than the actual doll.
      ..I hope that cleared it up a little ;;

      This isn't a 'is your doll alive/does it have a soul' question as such, I'm just.. getting frustrated with curiosity XD
    2. I might use iru with close friends who know how much I get into my characters/dolls, but other than that I'd stick with aru, since the doll's body itself is not alive. :3
    3. I too can't help imagining my dolls have personalities/feelings, but I don't think I'd say something to imply he's animate so blatantly. The most I would say is something like "Don't do that, he doesn't like it." even though it's not possible for an inanimate object to like or dislike anything.

      If I do use any words to personify my dolls, it's likely by accident, since my imagination can bleed into reality a bit. Or because I'm knowingly playing pretend and this is clear to others in the vicinity.
    4. I would probably refer to it as animated most of the time but inanimated the rest, kind of a 70/30 percent type thing. I kind of do stuff like that now with English and Spanish. For example, in English I'll call Tessa her/she most of the time like a person, but sometimes I also call her it/the doll, which refer to an item. It really depends on who I'm talking to and what the circumstances are and what I'm trying to convey in conversation.

      Currently, if I call Tessa by her name by saying something like "Hey Dad, just wanted to let you know I'll be at the park down the street for the next hour with Tessa." and my Dad goes: "Which friend is Tessa?" because he's not used to her having a name and thinks of her like a person, I have to answer, "Tessa is my doll. *_*", and he goes, "Oh, her, okay."

      Sometimes she's talked of as an object, sometimes as a person. :sweat
    5. Hmm interesting!
      I'd prolly use -aru if I were referring to dolls as a whole like I have [this many], but I'd use -iru for each individual? And if I were referring to them directly like, Shiyuu wa ima koko ni soba ni imas.

      Likewise with English. ^^
    6. I use "aru." Since Japanese is clearly not my first language, I assume that anyone who heard me use "iru" would think that I was making a mistake, rather than trying to imply that my dolls are alive in some respect.
    7. I'd stick with aru, since really they are not alive. Although in English I talk about my dolls kind of like they are people sometimes, I only do it with people who know who/what I'm talking about. And since Japanese isn't my native language, and I don't want people thinking I'm making mistakes (or strange :P ) I would use aru. :)
    8. anbaachan, that's an excellent point. :lol: I'd probably only use iru among my close friends because they'd understand - if I use it at all. In any other situation, yeah, it'd just look like the silly blonde white girl hasn't learned her Japanese well enough. :sweat
    9. ^^; I didn't really mean in an actual speaking-to-a-Japanese-person sense.. although that does make perfect sense and is where I went wrong >.> I meant more a general what you personaly would do, but it is a good point :sweat
    10. I'm seriously confused. First you give us a precise story about Japanese sentence structure, and then you want a general answer of do you think your dolls have souls, therefore choose iru or aru? I just don't even know how to comment on your surprise that someone uses Japanese to speak to a Japanese speaker.

      Unless I was amazingly good at a language, I wouldn't try and twist it to suit my needs. Otherwise (like everyone else has said) you look like you still need practice. The reason I say this is because I admire international writers who produce original english poems and novels, and yet there's no doubt that they can command the english language beautifully.
    11. Uhhh.....wait. Now I'm lost as to the point of the thread. Why on earth would I be speaking in Japanese if it wasn't to a native speaker? :?

      I guess the catch is that the issue you're wondering about, how you would personally - in your head - refer to them is not something that most people would be doing in Japanese in the first place. You'd probably get more of the answers you're looking for if you ask if people refer to their dolls as "it" or "he/she." Asking if we would use iru/aru instantly places most people into the situation of being a non-native speaker, and thus instinctively trying to speak as correctly as they can out of respect for the language.
    12. ugh. sorry, I suppose I worded my post wrongly. I used the iru/aru as an example because in English there isn't really any need for it to be forced as either an animate or inanimate object, or to use the 'it' 'he/she' when you could simply say 'my doll', where as in Japanese as it's describing the being of the doll rather than the actual doll, it's different. emka, you're right that it instantly makes it seem like.. well, what you said, that you would word it correctly out of respect for the language. Also I was talking to the person- someone I've know for many years- in very friendly terms, so respect for correct language didn't really occur to me, just the subject. Sorry :/
    13. You don't need to apologize! I think it still applies in English with the it vs he/she thing - sure, you could say "my doll," but there's no way you say that EVERY time you refer to your doll. Otherwise you'd start sounding like a kindergarten kid's essay - I love my doll. My doll has blond hair like me. Sometimes I like to put silly hats on my doll. We have pronouns for a reason, after all. :lol:

      And it can still mean a lot which ones you choose in English. Among my friends, I use "she", but around my parents or other people that aren't BJD fans, I'll use "it", since I know they'd frown at me for treating a hunk of plastic like it's alive and deserves being referred to by its gender as opposed to just being a "thing." It might not be as personal and meaningful as the iru/aru difference, but it's still there.
    14. Sometimes I like to put silly hats on my doll. Very nice example xD

      Very true~ generally I refer to mine by name when with people that understand them to some extent, but when the boys came to college with me I always used 'he' because they are distinctive as a gender. ..but saying that, I probably wouldn't refer to a Barbie as 'she' ^^;
    15. Well I suppose I would go with the prevailing custom of the language I was speaking in.

      It's one thing for a speaker of the same language to willfully tweak an expression, but when a foreigner does it, it can be confusing, because your native-speaking interlocutor might not understand you're doing it on purpose.

    16. Basically, as a general rule I refer to my dolls as "he/she" or by name, when speaking to someone else inside the hobby... but I refer to them as "it" when speaking to a non-BJD-collector. It just seems to simplify things. :sweat

      I think I would probably stick with the same general idea even if speaking a foreign language.
    17. So far as the ongoing Japanese question goes, it would be aru since they seem rather strict in the living/moving distinction. I think even trees use aru because they're stuck in one place, so it's odd.

      So far as English goes, it depends on the audience's familiarity with the hobby and my dolls in particular. If they're my friends then I refer to the dolls by name and personal pronouns. People familiar with the hobby get both personal pronouns and descriptions (ex: I like my MSD girl). People completely unfamiliar with the hobby only get 'it' or 'them' as well as descriptive noun phrases.

      Okay, the linguistics geek will hush now.... ^-^;;
    18. I would say aru or motteiru (I think that's the verb anyway), not iru, especially if I was talking to someone who didn't know much about me or my dolls. It does keep the possibility of them going "Wow she's nuts" to a minimum. I mean, I don't know if it's ever possible to use iru for dolls or other objects in Japanese -- I know there's a belief that certain objects develop/gain/ear/create souls of their own after existing for 100 years or so (you can see this idea played out pretty clearly if you watch the movie Shabake), and I think there's a belief specifically about dolls and souls too, but I don't know that even those situations would call for iru.

      In English, I usually call them "my doll(s)" the first time I refer to them, and then call them by the appropriate pronouns or by name. I figure if people want to put up a fuss or be disturbed by that then that's their problem, not mine, and the rules about how to talk about animate vs. inanimate objects in English don't seem to be as firm as in Japanese (though maybe I just think that because English is my native language).