Monday, February 18, 2019

kono hito, sono hito, ano hito この人, その人, あの人

In Japanese, kono hito, sono hito, ano hito この人, その人, あの人 mean literally "this person," "that person (near you)," and "that person (far from you)" respectively.

Usage

The phrases kono hito, sono hito, and ano hito work pretty much as you'd expect in Japanese: they're just the adjective demonstrative pronouns kono, sono, ano この, その, あの plus the noun "person," hito.

One unexpected thing, however, is that translating hito as simply "person" in English can sound weird sometimes. To fix this, hito can get translated as "guy" or "girl," or something like that, or even changing the two words to "he" or "she." For example:
  • kono hito wa dare desu ka?
    この人は誰ですか?
    Who is this person?
    Who is this [guy]?
    Who is this [girl]?
    Who is this [man]?
    Who is this [woman]?
    Who is [he]?
    Who is [she]?
  • sono hito wa dare desu ka?
    その人は誰ですか?
    Who is that person [next to you]?
    Who is that [guy next to you]?
    Who is [he]?
  • ano hito wa dare desu ka?
    あの人は誰ですか?
    Who is that person [far away]?
    Who is that [guy far away]?
    Who is [he]?

This happens because kosoado words such kono, sono, ano differ in proximity, which is a nuance that doesn't translate very well to English. But whenever such words are used, there are other cues (such as pointing or looking) that make the proximity nuance of the words irrelevant.

That's why kono hito, sono hito, and ano hito may all get translated as just "[he]" if the hito is a guy.

Nanda Kono Hito?! なんだこの人?!

In Japanese, the phrase nanda kono hito なんだこの人 means "what's [up with] this person?!" This phrase, and its variants, show up when the speaker is facing someone who says or does something odd, or sometimes demands something weird from the speaker.

In manga, it often shows up in thought bubbles. For example:

ちょっとお金貸してくれない? なんですかこの人!?
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 24)
  • Context: the speaker is walking around when all of sudden this girl shows up and...
  • chotto okane kashite kurenai?
    ちょっとお金貸してくれない?
    Won't [you] lend [me] a little money?
  • nandesuka kono hito!?
    なんですかこの人!?
    What's [up with] this person!?
    What's [up with] this [girl]!?
    What's [up with] [her]!?
  • She just asked money from a complete stranger!

See: emotive right-dislocation for further details.

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