Translation:There is a bird in the tree.
Nevertheless, it is right. This is how a native Japanese speaker would typically say if they want to point out there are birds sitting on a tree.
It's one of these cases where a literal translation (in either direction) would sound weird or less natural.
Both 止 and 留 are actually acceptable ways of writing it.
For reference (in Japanese), see point ④ here: https://kotobank.jp/word/%E6%AD%A2%E3%81%BE%E3%82%8B%E3%83%BB%E7%95%99%E3%81%BE%E3%82%8B%E3%83%BB%E6%AD%A2%E3%82%8B%E3%83%BB%E7%95%99%E3%82%8B%E3%83%BB%E5%81%9C%E3%81%BE%E3%82%8B-343205
Is this an expression that a Japanese person would say? I'm starting to feel like there course is starting to lead us into a more native way to phrase things, I'm just a bit unsure if it's that or some mistake.
Thats a good question, it literally translates to "the bird is stopping in the tree"
Yes, but if i remember it uses a different kanji in reference to birds (or other migratory animals) perching. So it's a homonym for 止まる.
I just can't seem to remember what the other kanji was though. It's been years since I used my japanese degree...
You are correct Katsudamn. According to my dictionary, 留まる(とまる) is the kanji for "to stay (on), to perch, or to be fastened".
Kotobank says both 止まるand 留まる are acceptable, but I'm not sure if one is more common than the other.
④ （鳥・虫などが）何かにつかまって休む。 《止・留》 「スズメが電線に－・っている」 「トンボが－・る」
Yes, this is how a native Japanese speaker would say it. It is particular for animals like birds to use the verb とまる when they are sitting in trees. A literal translation into 木に鳥がいる wouldn't be incorrect as such, but sounds less natural.
That would be fine as well, since the sentence didn't specify the number of birds.
I would say it's more typical in English to say birds are in a tree rather than on it.
I wish there were native speakers in Duo who would help explain grammatical rules so we don't get these messes of partial explanations and guesses from the users. Like, the "learning community" bit is really great, but its value is only as good as the users' knowledge, which is often spotty at best, and rarely 100% certain..
TL;DR I can understand where you're coming from, but your dismissal of non-native Japanese speakers makes me bristle.
To be fair, native speakers will often have a hard time coming up with thorough explanations for grammar rules. (Trust me, I went to teach English in Japan armed with a chemistry degree and my native English ability; some of the questions the kids asked me were really hard to explain.)
Also, I think a not insignificant part of the "learning community" are, like me, users who have a grasp of Japanese beyond the scope of this course (though not necessarily native level), who are not here to learn, but to help others.
Personally, I'm aware the answers I write often sound like incomplete explanations. I write like that on purpose. Beginning students don't necessarily need a full, detailed explanation of all the ways が can be used, for example, which is sometimes needed to fully grasp why it is used instead of は. However for the purposes of the exercises we are given, partial explanations are enough and far less confusing than going into higher level grammatical considerations.
Also, coming from a science background, I tend to avoid statements which sound like I'm 100% certain, unless I am at least 110% certain. But most of the time, I'm 95% sure that what I'm saying is correct, because I acknowledge that I am not a native speaker and don't know if the generalizations I'm making can apply to all situations (not just the ones I could think of).
Japanese speakers have as much trouble with English as English speakers have with Japanese. The native speaker knows what he understands in his own language but that does not mean that he knows what he is actually saying in another language. Translators work best working from the foreign language into their native language.
Okay, maybe there's regional variations in English, but "in the tree" sounds a lot more grammatically correct than "on the tree" to me in this context. You hang decorations ON a tree, but people and animals are IN the tree.
Personally, I see no differentiation. "on" and "in" when referring to something that is not "under the bark" of the tree are interchangeable. If it's sitting "on a branch" it is "in/on" the tree.
"On" works since it's sitting on the upper surface of the object we call tree and "on" typically refers to the position of the object being described as being above or beside the object and in contact with it.
"In" works since trees typically occupy a large volume of space, though do no "fill" the space completely. There are voids in-between the branches. So if the bird is "inside the bounding box" of the tree, "in" works.
(This also works with why we sit "in" the chair but "on" the stool)
Can someone explain why "ni" is used instead of "de"? I thought "de" references a place where an action is taking place, such as "stopping" or "waiting" in a tree.
"De" is usually used for locations where the verb isn't about the location. "Ni" is for locations where the verb does refer to a location, like "I went to the restaurant" would use "ni," but "I ate at the restaurant" would use "de" (e.g. レストランに行きました。 vs レストランで食べました). For more confusion, some verbs like "to walk" can be used with wo (i.e. 公園を歩きます).
Lastly, the general versus specific locations is a more accurate description of the "he/へ" vs "ni/に" particles.
The way my teachers explained it is that に is used when movement towards the place is implied. In this case, the bird must have moved towards the tree in order to stop there but if the sentence was for example that the bird is singing in the tree, で would probably be used instead. At least that's how I understand it.
I am not sure, but I think as で being a generic place and に a more specific place. For example, if you say ここで you may be talking about a room or a country or the school. If you say ここに you are talking about a specific place or bench or chair. But Let's wait for someone that really knows.
Here we have a case of に used to point at the location of something that's not moving at the time. You would also use it in sentences like "the book is on the table", etc. On the other hand, で is used when a specific action is taking place. It wouldn't be used here because we're talking about a position, and not an action.
The problem with Duo's translation is that it may be conversationally equivalent to English but it is far from what the Japanese actually says. As a result, it causes confusion, misleads students, and teaches nothing about how Japanese works.
The crux of the problem, which is ultimately why Duo's free translation works, is that the "...te imas" is a stative form indicating the state of the action. Thus, "tomatte imasu" means that "stopping" is the state of play. This can equate either to "has stopped (and that is how things stand) " or "is (in the act of) stopping." Literally then, the sentence means "A bird has stopped in the tree (and that's how things stand)." Since, in the situation, an English speaker would probably say, "There is a bird in the tree," Duo uses that as an equivalent sentence. Judge for yourself whether that helps you learn about Japanese. (Compare: "Ano hoteru ni tomatte imasu" => "I am staying at that hotel.")
Yes, if a Japanese wanted to call your attention to a bird in a tree, he would say this where an English speaker might say, "There is a bird in the tree" but, no, the sentence does not literally mean this. This pairing of a free conversationally equivalent translation with a semantically different Japanese sentence may teach how the Japanese point out birds in trees but it teaches nothing about the grammar and semantics of how they do it. Students need to know what is actually being said in the language they are trying to learn-- and to realize that isn't the same as English.
Japanese words equate to concepts, not English translations. "Tomaru" means what it conveys to Japanese speakers, not what might translate it into English. The basic concept expressed by "tomaru" seems to be "stop." Add the various stative concepts expressed in Japanese verb suffixes, the many situations to which the concept of "stopping" can apply, and the requirements of English grammar and idiom, and you get a variety of "translations" for what is esentially the same word and same concept in Japanese. While it is true that diferent kanji are used for "tomaru" in particular contexts, this is not a feature of the SPOKEN language, where "tomaru" is just "tomaru" and the best translation usually depends on how English speakers say "stop" or "stay" in the context.
That is a good point. Just want to add some nuance:
It's certainly true that a single concept in one language sometimes doesn't correspond to one single concept in a different language, and therefore you need to use different words depending on the context. (And sometimes even that is difficult, e.g. translating the Swedish concept "lagom" to English accurately is basically impossible.)
However, I'd say it's more common that a single word happens to correspond to multiple different concepts in the same language. For example "I'm running" is conceptually different from "the engine is running", or "she is running the company". All of these would be different words in e.g. Swedish, but they are already different concepts in English to start with. I believe this is closer to the situation we have here with "tomaru".
(Sorry for the use of Swedish as a reference here, it just happens to be my native language.)
That is certainly true. The English word "fix," for example, has a great many uses and would surely require many "translations" in other languages. I wonder, though, whether most of those uses aren't some how extensions of the basic concept of "put firmly in place." In any case, someone learning English would have to learn the different uses of "fix" as different "meanings."
When I've seen "tomaru" the basic idea has consistently been one of "stopping" or "coming to rest." Add the stative sense of "...te iru" and you get "staying" but that is not a change in the meaning of "tomaru." The other suggested translations, such as "perch" or "alight" are variations of the same basic concept for particular contexts.
The best translation should capture the sense of "tomatte iru" and satisfy the requirements of the target language for the purposes of the translation. "There is a bird in the tree," may be fine for conversation, but it doesn't help much if learning what is going on in Japanese is the purpose of the exercise.
No, if you interpret まっています as "waiting", then you're left with a weird pair of particles がと which don't make any sense.
any advice for reading the sentence as kana as a way not to confuse と as a particle especially when there is not kanji
Unfortunately not. I think this is one of the arguments for using kanji and not just hiragana. The only other option would be for Duolingo to put spaces in between words, though in real life you would only see spaces in Japanese if you were reading a children's book and it was written without kanji.
Their answer: "a bird is in the tree" I said "the bird" and was marked incorrect. Japanese does not have "a" or "the" so either should be correct
If I wrote two sentences in English you may understand:
I saw a bird.
I saw the bird.
The first sentence is new information. I am telling you something that you did not know. It's just a non-specific bird in this sentence. You have no knowledge about this particular bird.
The second sentence, out of context, would probably lead to the question "what bird?". In context, you probably know this particular bird or we have just been talking about it.
The same is true in Japanese. が introduces a new subject or new information, は indicates the topic.
木にとりがとまっています = A bird is in the tree ('bird' is a new piece of information)
木にとりはとまっています（or more naturally とりは木にとまっています）= The bird is in the tree ('bird' is not a new piece of information. It is the topic of conversation and has already been introduced earlier in the conversation)
The difference between は and が is very difficult for English speakers because we do not have that distinction in our language. It is still more complex than what I have explained, but this shows one difference.
A more literal, easier to remember translation (although slightly odd) would be 'a bird has stopped on the tree.'
The translation does not literally mean what the Japanese actually says. "TOMARU" means to stop and stay. Nobody translates "tomarikeri" as "there is" in Basho's haiku, "Kare eda ni karasu ga tomarikeri, aki no kure."
Nobody translates Japanese literally, especially not haiku. Literal translations are not inherently "more correct".
Translation: 1. Be as literal as possible and as free as NECESSARY. 2. Keep your unit of translation as small as possible (consider the meaning of every morpheme) . 3. Use standard vocabulary (if the word means "stop" don't gut the meaning to "there is"). 4. Make the translation read as though written originally in the target language,, but it should be possible to get from the translation back to the source. "There is a bird in the tree" falls short on all counts with the added disadvantage that it confuses learners in a basic language course.
Ok, I completely get what you're saying, and those are good guidelines for translating, but that's all they should be. Perhaps with other language pairs, it's easier to translate that way, but JP-EN doesn't lend itself to it at all, especially on point number 4 (making a sentence sound natural in Japanese almost always makes it impossible to accurately get back to the source).
"1. Be as literal as possible and as free as NECESSARY" This seems far too arbitrary and open to interpretation to be useful. Necessary for what? For the literal meaning of the sentence to carry over? For the intended/contextual meaning of the sentence? For the cultural nuance/implications/connotations of the sentence? For the imagery/metaphor in the sentence? How far do you go?
"2. Keep your unit of translation as small as possible (consider every morpheme)" Yes, but does that mean that every morpheme needs to be apparent in the target language? Because you can see how a morpheme influenced a translation, without the actual morpheme itself being represented in the translation.
"3. Use standard vocabulary" There is no such thing. The word 止まる【とまる】means "to stop, to halt, to remain in place, to abide, to stay in one place, to come to a halt" and that's only according to one dictionary. Admittedly "there is" doesn't appear in that list either, and I'm not exactly trying to defend Duo's translation as THE correct translation, but these entries in the dictionary are suggestions for what is commonly considered an appropriate equivalent in most/general circumstances.
"4. Make the translation read as though written originally in the target language,, but it should be possible to get from the translation back to the source." I mentioned this earlier, but JP-EN is a language pair that makes this almost impossible, especially if you're limiting yourself by the previous three points. Regardless, I personally don't think backwards compatibility should be a priority when it comes to translation; it's why accreditation for translators is always for a specific language pair in a specific direction, i.e. JP→EN or EN →JP, not JP<->EN.
I do agree with you that the current "correct" answer makes things confusing for learners, but that doesn't make it an incorrect translation, just a bad one. My point in my previous comment was that literal translations are not automatically more correct because they are more literal; being more literal as useful for beginners, but it's only a starting point for good translation.
Thank you for the commentary. You point out many of the difficulties ỉn translating Japanese into English. The languages are very different from one another. Close translations, particularly of common conversational expressions, often do not work so well. Nevertheless, if you are going to evaluate a translation, it is best to have at least somewhat objective principles on which to judge.
Does the English say what the Japanese actually says, or at least not deviate from it any more than necessary to make the English suit the purpose of the translation?
Does the translation account for as much of the content of the Japanese as can naturally be captured in English idiomatically?
Is the vocabulary in the translation as equivalent to the Japanese in meaning and register as it can be?
Does the English read smoothly and would the original Japanese be an acceptable translation of the English?
These are, admittedly, guidelines and translation is an art, not a science, but I think it is kinder to critique a person's translation in terms of comprehensible guidelines than otherwise.
(In the case in point, the purpose of the translation is to help beginners understand what is going on in the Japanese. "There is" for "tomatte iru" does the opposite. I'd hardly call it a good translation.)
"There is a bird in the tree" is basically equivalent to "ki ni tori ga iru." It is as though the translator decided to leave "tomatte" out of the sentence. Depending on the purpose of the translation this might be justified on the grounds that 1) "iru" is the principle verb and "tomatte" is subordinate to it, 2) the concept of stopping isn't important to the overall meaning, and 3) including the meaning of "tomaru" in the English is somewhat redundant, awkward, and communicatively unlikely. So, "tori ga tomatte iru" becomes "tori ga (tomatte) iru" which is all well and good until you consider that the lesson is about the structure and not about justifying the elimination of phonemes and meaning from translations
"A bird is perched" or "a bird is perching" Are they both right? Duo says only the former. To me they mean the same thing.
They do not necessarily mean the same thing in English (one can mean that the bird has alighted and is in place the other can mean that the bird is in the process of alighting). The Japanese, I believe, can cover both inasmuch as it essentially means that "perching" is the current state of affairs.
Yes, but they generally mean the same thing, just as sitting can mean in the state of sitting, or in the act of sitting, so sitting and seated are used interchangeably.
A bird is perched in the tree sounds like a better translation. 木に鳥が居ます is what the translation they put would actually be.
You may be right on your first point but "Ki ni tori ga tomaru" would mean that the bird or birds will sit or regularly sit in the tree.
泊まる = to stay, for the night, as if lodging at a hotel. "The bird is lodging in the tree" sounds a little awkward in English, but "staying, "sleeping," and "is on the tree" are also less accurate.
That's the beauty, and curse, of kanji. 泊まる is indeed とまる, but so is 止まる and 留まる. The first of those means "to stop, to halt", and the second means "to remain, to stay (in one place)".