The following is an unedited post created on our Tumblr page. You may find the original here.
Here it is, the big finale! First things first, let’s remember where we are with these opening lines from Fairy Tail:
(The Kingdom of Fiore)
(A permanently neutral country of a population of 17 million.)
(That place [i.e. Fiore] is a world of magic.)
魔法は 普通に売り買いされ 人々の生活に根づいていた。
そして その魔法を駆使して 生業とする者どもがいる。
(Wizards belong to various guilds)
(Those guilds in the country [are] numerous.)
そして とある街に とある魔導士ギルドがある。
かつて いや 後々に至るまで 数々の伝説を生み出した ギルド。
(That name… is Fairy Tail)
Six more sentences to go! We’ll go ahead and do them from the top down.
魔法は 普通に売り買いされ 人々の生活に根づいていた。
“Magic (topic marker) something something.” Big sentence, a little scary. But don’t be scared.
“普通に”, pronounced “futsuu ni” is an adverbial phrase meaning “generally”.
“売り買い”, “urikai” is a compound word, coming from “uri” and “kai”, “selling” and “buying”, and meaning “trading”. “urikai” we will treat as a noun.
Our verb is “され”, “sare”, which is a not a finite verb, but in a gerund-like state that allows it to modify the next word, “人々”, which we’ll talk about in a moment. “され” means “doing” (in a kind of middle voice). Our Japanese verb “to do”, “する”, of which “され” is a form, often takes nouns before it to indicate what one does. The most famous example is probably “勉強する”, where “勉強” (”benkyou”), means “studying”. You “studying do”, i.e. “to study”. Likewise, we’re “trading doing”, i.e. “trading”.
Now, “人々” is pronounced “hitobito” because it’s really “hito” twice. The character “々” means “the same”, so you write that instead of the same kanji twice. “hito” means people. So, “people and people”, i.e. “the populace”. That’s what it means.
Here’s something interesting: subordinate clauses modifying nouns go before the noun. In English, they go after: “The cat that caught the mouse”. Here it’s backwards. So everything from “普通に” to “され” is modifying this noun meaning the populace. So we have “the populace that generally buys and trades”.
Now we’re visited by の, which we already know indicates some genitive construction where “x の y” is “y of x”. Our y is “生活”, “seikatsu”, “livelihood”, one’s daily life.
“The livelihood of the populace that generally buys and trades”
に is a location marker again. This tells us where the verb occurs. It tells us that it occurs
“In the livelihood of the populace that generally buys and trades”
Now we reach our verb “根づいていた”, “nezuiteita”, “has taken root”. The verb in a more basic form is “根づく”, “nezuku” which would be our simple present tense. Here we have the verb in an indefinite state with an auxiliary in a definite, perfect tense, state. What do I mean? All verbs have what is called a “て” form, meaning that they end in て and aren’t definite verb anymore (and they are used for a million different things. Consider how English uses verbs ending in -ing for a million different things too.). The most common use of the “て” verbs, however, is to make a progressive with the auxiliary “いる”, either as the present “いる” or in the perfect (the perfect tense in English is “has x-ed”, by the way) “いた”. So grammatically it is analogous to the English construction of “has been x-ing”, which is the perfect progressive tense. However, when you translate it, you tend to keep it in the perfect because continuity in English in generally implied in the simple perfect tense “has x-ed”. (There’s also this whole thing about there being no perfect progressive active in English, but we’re going to ignore that for now.)
So now we can put this all together: “Magic has taken root in the livelihood of the populace that generally buys and trades.” This sounds a bit clunky as far as the English style on narrative goes, so the subtitles may phrase it differently, probably making the populace the subject of the sentence.
そして その魔法を駆使して 生業とする者どもがいる。
“そして”, “soshite”, is a phrase one should definitely commit to memory. It means “So,” but really indicates that we’re moving on in the discourse from one point to the other.
So, that magic something something…
Here we meet “を”, pronounced as “o” or “wo” by the elder generations. This marks direct objects, the thing the verb affects. In Japanese, the direct object tends to go right before the verb. So if you see a を, expect a verb right after it.
Our verb is “駆使して”, “kushi shite”, which incorporates some things we’ve already talked about. First, it’s one of those verb-do constructions. “駆使” means “free use”, what one does regularly, and “して” is the て-form of the verb “する”, so this translates as “doing freely”. But what are we doing freely? Magic. Hence the “を” marking “魔法”.
So, that using freely that magic…
“生業”, “seigyuu”, which is a verb that refers to one’s occupation, one’s calling, what one dedicates oneself to. Here we’ll just call it “occupation”.
Like last time, we have this verbal phrase modifying this noun; and we know this, as we did last time, because because the verbal phrase precedes the noun. So we have “the occupation that freely uses this magic”.
“とする” lies somewhere between a real verb and an expression. You’ll recognize that “する”, as our “do” verb. “と” is a particle that does many things. Here its telling us in a “x と y” construction, where y is a verb, that the subject, whatever that may be, “y’s as an x”.What does that mean for us? It means that the subject “does as an occupation that freely uses this magic”.
So what’s our subject? “者ども”, “monodomo”, “domo”, like “tachi”, is a suffix that just makes clear that we’re talking about more than one “mono”, “an entity”. I translate “mono” as “entity” because it is a very non-personal way of saying “person” or “individual”. So let’s call them “entities”.
And just like last time, we have the verb-noun construction meaning that everything is modifying this one noun. So, “the entities that use this magic freely as an occupation”
“が” is our subject marker. NOT ”は”!
“いる”, “iru”, is that same verb we saw as an auxiliary a while back. It’s one of two existential verbs besides the copula. “Iru” is used to emphasize that something not only “is” but is relevant. (It’s similar to how in Indo-European languages you can use “to have” as an emphasizer. For example, “Habemus Papam!”)
So, “There are entities that use that magic freely as an occupation.”
The populace (topic marker) something (direct object) wizards (と） something.
“彼ら” is the 3rd person plural pronoun. Japanese teachers want to pretend 3rd person pronouns don’t exist because they are tricky to use, but I’m letting you know because I’m not teaching you to speak Japanese. (If you want to know why it’s tricky, it’s because “彼” often means one’s boyfriend.) “Karera” is its pronunciation. “ra” is another of those suffixes that indicates plurality.
“と” is playing a similar role as last time, where the subject is y’ing as x.
”呼んだ”, “yonda”, is the perfect tense of “yobu”, “呼ぶ”, which means “to call” (it also means to invoke). “x と 呼ぶ” is a common construction meaning “to call (something) x”.Here, that x is “wizards”. (The reason why it’s in the perfect tense is because the naming is already in effect. It’s already happened.)
“In respect to the populace, they call them wizards.” or, to sound more English-y, “The populace calls them wizards.”
Let’s start in this sentence with “応じて”, which is a て-verb, “oujite”, which is part of an expression and here means “depending on”. (It means really “to comply”) The whole expression is “x に応じて” meaning “depending on the x”
Our x is “依頼”, “irai”, meaning “commission” or “request”.
Again, we have the verb-noun construction, where the noun is 仕事, “shigoto”, meaning “job” (even an office job is 仕事). So this is a “job that depends on the commission”
Now we know that “を” indicates the direct object and that ”する” mean “to do”.
So “they do a job [or jobs] depending on the commission.”
If you look above, you’ll see that this sentence is about the wizards, so wizards do jobs depending on the commission.
そして とある街に とある魔導士ギルドがある。
We already know “そして”, which lets us know we’re moving from one point to another.
“とある”, “to aru” (Yes, it does originate with the “と” we’ve already seen and “ある”, which we are about to see.) is an expression, meaning “a certain.”
“街”, “machi”, means a “town” or “neighborhood”.
“に” is our location marker.
So, in a certain town a certain wizard guild (topic marker) “ある”
“ある” is “いる”’s brother. The only difference between them is that ”ある” refers to non-animate things. (So a moving car will take いる and one that’s dead takes ある. Tis a tad confusing.) Guilds are not animate, so it takes “ある”
“So, in a certain town there is a certain wizard guild.”
かつて いや 後々に至るまで 数々の伝説を生み出した ギルド。
This is the hardest sentence, perhaps.
“かつて”, “katsute” is another expression meaning “once”.
“いや”, “iya”, is an interjection meaning, “no”.
So, “Once –no –…”
後々に, “atoatoni”, another expression, meaning “into the future”. “ato” means “later”, “later and later” means “waaay later”.
“まで”, “made”, means “into”. What it really means, though, is the destination. It’s part of a from-to combo, “kara-made”, where “made” is the to. (Just keep that in mind.)
“Once– no– into the future”
“数々の”, “shibashiba no”, literally “again and again”, “continuously”. We’re seeing a lot of that repetition here; and this is a good time to talk about something that these expressions share: When used as an adverb, they’ll take the particle の. So it doesn’t have anything to do with possession and putting “of” in our translation will not help us. When we encounter some more adjectives and adverbs, we’ll talk about this again.
“伝説”, “densetsu”, means “legend”.
“生み出した”, “umidashita”, is a compound verb, composed of “生む” and ”出す”, meaning “to birth” and “to reveal” (or “put out”), respectively. This word means “to produce”. It’s in the perfect tense, which just lets us know that the production of legends is already underway.
You will notice there is no verb. When there is no verb, the verb is です, “desu” the copula, “is”. And since we have yet again the verb-noun construction, we know that everything is modifying that one “ギルド”.
“There is a guild that once, no, into the future, is continuously producing legends.” In English we might say, “There is a guild that once continuously produced legends, nay, well into the future…” or something like that.
SO LET’S PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!!! (And make it pretty)
The Kingdom of Fiore
A permanently neutral country of a population of 17 million.
That place is a world of magic.
Magic has taken root in the livelihood of the populace that generally buys and trades.
Thus, there are entities that use this magic freely as their livelihood.
The populace calls these people wizards.
Wizards belong to various guilds
and work depending on the commission.
Those guilds within the country are numerous.
Yet, in a certain town there is a certain wizard guild.
It is a guild that once, nay, into the future, still continuously produces legends.
That name … is Fairy Tail.
We did it!