Translation:The year before last was a bad year.
Kanji often have multiple readings depending on how they are used. とし is a common reading for 年。:)
Just to add a little more information: usually when a kanji is used in combination with another one a Chinese reading is used. When used by itself it has the Japanese reading.
Japanese reading is called kunyomi amd chinese is called onyomi. Also many kanji have multiple readings both in kun- and onyomi, prime example is 生 (なま or せい)
Why didn't they use the 年 kanji in "おととし"? Is that phrase commonly hiragana-only in Japan?
一昨年 I guess they just mixing haragana and kanji. but I haven't seen them writing おととし in kanji so far.
Probably because they haven't taught the kanji for the whole word, and they don't want to mix hiragana and kanji when it's often written in all kanji (or all kana).
It's what happens when a country (Japan) uses another country's (China's)writing system and not create their own.
Illogical multiple readings on each character, all over.
It gets worse to remember them all the more you know, lol
You mean like when England (not named like that then) decided to use the Roman writing system and they got illogical multiple readings (sounds) on each character (letter), all over? Yeah, I think I agree with you (although that makes the language more likely to teach you things about the languages from which it borrowed, which can be positive if you're interested in those languages)
BTW: I think the story that the OP was referring to was the one behind that "bad year"
I'm not an expert but maybe knowing this will help some folks:
年 = とし = toshi = A year, THE year. わるい年 = bad year.
年 = ねん = nen = A counter word for years. 八年 = 8 years.
The more common counter for years is 年間, though 年 is acceptable. Should also go to note that 年間 as a counter has on readings for all numbers. This is highly uncommon, given that→
八年 八つ 八日 八月
It means effectively the same thing but it isn't a good translation of the sentence. "Was a bad year" is more accurate.
In English you'd say "the year before last". It would be grammatically correct but confusing to say "the year before the last year". When you put "the" in front of "last", you've detached it from "the year before" so you need to specify last what. For example you might be saying "the year before the last big storm" or "the year before the last time I saw her".
Ok but this is a Japanese course, having to worry about subtleties like these makes translating stuff a pain in the ass. In this course I just want to understand the meaning of the sentences not worry if the English grammar was 100% perfect. It should be an acceptable answer still imo.
In american english, perhaps. In actual, proper english you say "the year before the last", "The year before" sets the precedent, and "the last" is the object of the precedent, that requires an article.
In fact, you manage to completely destroy your own claim with your examples.
Ok so i have two questions: 1) why is 年 pronounced "toshi"? I thought that reading was for when the character is used with other kanji. 2) why not write おととし with the kanji for year おと年? Is it because you cannot rip the actual writing of 一昨年 apart and only give one half a kanji?
No, とし is the kun reading, not the on reading. 一昨年 are two separate words. 一昨 is "one previous", but normally read as いっさく, it's in effect slang that has become proper japanese, and the phrase has just taken to mean 2 years prior.
What's funny is that the reading flips back on multiples. 一昨昨日 「いっさくさくじつ」Or 「さきおととい」
Why does "the year before the last" not work as opposed to "the year before last"?
Because duolingo is made by people with loose grasp of english language, presumably american.
It was one of the best years on record. Cure for ALS, number of other awesome medical breakthroughs, CRISPr progress, social progress, Hillary didn't get her war.