The Weekly Pokedex [7] – Cofagrigus

Welcome to this week’s… well… Weekly Pokedex. Today it’ll get a bit spooky, as our roll happens to be #563, AKA Cofagrigus!

COFAGRIGUS

Not much to say here this time, as its Japanese name is fairly straightforward. It’s, most likely, a combination of デス (death) and (coffin). Though for some reason the vowel in 棺 is elongated. The real fun starts with the entry itself, though.


(Mouse-over kanji to see their reading)

The first half of this Pokedex entry is one of these Matryoshka-like embedded sentences, or, as if you want to use the proper linguistic term, relative clauses.

 

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You know, sentences with words like who or that – e.g. “This is the cat that knows how to play the piano.” Where “that knows how to play the piano” is a relative clause.

Well, in Japanese it’s a bit different, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Let’s look at 本物の かんおけと 間違え 近寄ってきた 墓ドロボウ

The whole phrase in blue modifies ドロボウ (which means grave robber(s). You’re learning such useful vocab with me, aren’t’cha?), which is the complete opposite of what happens in English. In English you’d put the grave robbers somewhere at the start of the sentence, like this:

“Grave robbers who [something]”

In Japanese, the grave robbers would come at the end, instead, with the relative clause in front of the noun. So, let’s break it down:

本物のかんおけ

The here is not the one that works like a Saxon genitive. Instead, it makes the first noun (本物 – real thing) an attribute of the second (かんおけ coffin) In other words, this part means “real coffin”. As opposed to the Pokemon, who is just pretending to be a coffin.

Then we have the verb 間違え which is the stem of 間違える (to make a mistake). Thanks to the particle connecting it to what comes before, it actually means to mistake [something] for [something], making this first part of the sentence mean “mistake for a real coffin”. It sounds a little bare-bones for now, but let’s just bear with it for a sec.

Now, as for why only the stem of 間違える is used, it’s to connect two verbs together, and the next verb is 近寄ってきた. We can break it down into 近寄って, the te-form of 近寄る (to approach; to get close), with きた, the past form of くる.

As discussed in the previous post, the ~てくる tacked on at the end of a movement verb describes a motion coming towards the speaker. Which might not seem very clear right here, because it’s something akin to an encyclopedia entry, so… where is the speaker?

I think that in cases like this, it’s best not to think about it too hard, and just remember that it’s a motion towards something (笑). In this case I’m pretty sure that something in question is the Pokemon, Cofagrigus, even though it’s not outright mentioned in the entry. Since, y’know, Japanese loves skipping the subject.

We can now translate this part of the sentence then, since you already know what 墓ドロボウ means.

“Grave robbers who mistake (it/them) for real coffins and get close…”

See what I meant about the order being completely reversed in English vs Japanese?

After all this, we have the particle, which means the whooole phrase we’ve just finished discussing is the direct object of the verb which is waiting for us at the end of the sentence, so let’s just skip ahead to it right now.

閉じこめてしまう = 閉じこめて(te-form of 閉じこめる to lock up; to trap) + しまう

~てしまう ending can have different meanings depending on the context, but here, in all likelihood, it indicates that the action has been completed.

Of course, there’s still the question of what the poor grave robbers end up locked up in.

中に

= body

= inside

= indicates the location

Do the math.

We should now be ready to translate everything!

Now, if we try to build off of the translation of the first half of the entry, it’d be something like: “Grave robbers who mistake them for real coffins and get close are/end up trapped inside their bodies.”

In Japanese there’s no passive voice here, though, so if we wanted to keep this particular nuance in English, we’d have to put what’s at the end in the Japanese sentence at the very beginning of the the English sentence:

[本物の かんおけと 間違え 近寄ってきた 墓ドロボウを] [][ 閉じこめてしまう]

[They trap] [grave robbers who mistake them for real coffins and get too close] [inside their bodies].

I felt that this was an interesting look at how the order can differ between English and Japanese sentences.

And here’s the official translation!

Grave robbers who mistake them for real coffins and get too close end up trapped inside their bodies.

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