Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oshieru, oboeru, manabu, omoidasu, etc.

For a while I've been vaguely trying to tease our distinctions among these verbs of putting things into, or taking them out of, the memory.
oshieru (教える): it's a standard "to teach", but it also applies to imparting info, such as a phone number (電話番号を教えてください.)

manabu (学ぶ): feels studious, like a person at school (gaku 学)

oboeru (覚える): usually carries a sense of memorizing, but then in "Chijou no Hoshi" Nakajima sings, "地上の星を / だれも覚えていない", which wouldn't carry that sense at all

omoidasu (思い出す): to remember (from the omoide, combining kanji for thinking and leaving/extracting)

I'm sure there are more. Manabu uses the same kanji as all the gaku variants, so there's a definite sense of study and studenting. Oboeru (to me) suggests effort and intention; the 勉 in 勉強, study, has a tsukuri of 力 (strength) and carries a reading of tsutomeru, to work, a verb that's usually written 勤める, again with 力. Exertion, effort. Manabu 学ぶ might suggest the longer-term process of being in a school environment and learning gradually, as opposed to applying oneself acutely. 今日学校に行ったけど、あまり勉強しなかったから、何も学ばなかった。

So maybe Nakajima isn't saying just that no one knows/remembers, but also that no one makes an effort to remember.

Jisho offers a bunch of neat variants on remembering and keeping in mind. The first entry is 思い出す, of course. The second is the enchanting 思い起こす, omoiokosu, combining thinking/memory and awakening—the active form, rather than 思い起きる. Jisho also offers 偲ぶ, which adds ninben, which may carry that reading of "shi" (but does it carry meaning?). It also offers another kanji for oboeru, 憶える: apparently, 憶 can also be omou, like 思う, and the kanji is the 意 in "meaning" (いみ) plus an additional kokoro (mind/heart) for flavor. 注意 (warning) is particularly interesting because it seems to carry a specific sense of attention—eg, you can use 逸らす, actively diverting/digressing, on it to distract someone from something. (注意を逸らしていただきませんか。) Of course, with sorasu (divert) there's also soreru, to wander or digress (on your own—牛が逸れちゃった?).

There must be nuances among all these verbs; so frustrating to see them all listed as "to remember"! Why can't dictionaries say anything useful?

Addendum: And where does 習う fit into all this? Feathers? It's used in 見習い, young women practicing their dancing &c. Is 習う more physical than, say, 学ぶ?

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