Hiya! It’s this time of the week again, which means it’s time for another Pokedex entry analysis. The number we’ve landed on today is 50, which means a Gen 1 Pokemon – Shellder, to be exact.
We’ll be looking at the Gold/HeartGold definition here.
With this entry, we’ll be able to talk about the ～たり～たり grammatical construction buuuut… let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, we have ２まい (2 + 枚, which is the counter for flat things) + の particle (indicating one noun modifying the next here) + カラ (shell).
I believe this is the first time we’ve run into counters here, so I’ll briefly explain what they are. And I do mean briefly, because honestly, you could make not one but several posts solely about counters in Japanese.
Okay, so, counters are words used when counting things. That much at least must’ve been obvious, right? See, in Japanese, counting something is not quite as simple as saying “four <things>”. There’s usually a word representing the thing being counted that has to come with the number. For example…
～個 (small/round things) – ３個のりんご (three apples)
～匹 (small animals) – １匹のピカチュ (one Pikachu; yes, this one is used for counting all Pokemon)
～人 (people) – ４人 (four people)
～台 (large machines) – １０台の車 (ten cars)
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of how counters and counting in Japanese works, but as I said, this isn’t a post dedicated solely to counters :p
Let’s get back to our Pokedex entry now. Since I said 枚 was a counter for flat things, ２枚のカラ refers to those two flap things Shellder’s shell is made out of. For the sake of sounding natural in English, let’s refer to it as “two-piece shell”.
Okay, now we can move on to the ～たり～たりする: 開けたり閉じたりする
The ～たり particle is attached to the stem of verbs, and when used in this pattern, it shows examples of actions or actions occurring back and forth. This particular case is an example of the latter.
Putting this with the previous part of the sentence we get ２まいカラを開けたり閉じたりする – “opening and closing (its) two-piece shell”
Followed by こと, which nominalizes a verb (turns it into a noun, more or less) + で indicating the means + 後ろ向きに (backwards) 泳ぐ (to swim).
Putting it all together: “By opening and closing its two-piece shell, it swims backwards”
The second part of the entry is, thankfully, much simpler.
その (that) + スピード (whattdaya think? it’s speed) + は (topic particle) + 結構 (here it means quite) 速い (fast).
Although it does sound kinda awkward in English “That speed is quite fast”? “It’s quite fast” should suffice.
And now we should be ready to translate everything!
“It swims backwards by opening and closing its two-piece shell. It’s actually quite fast.”
And the official one:
“It swims facing backward by opening and closing its two-piece shell. It is surprisingly fast.”
That’s all for today! See you in… well, not a week, actually. I’m going on a vacation in a couple of days, and I’ll be gone for the next two weeks. So see you then!