What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

"Even if Japanese isn't an intellectual country...."

Elizabeth

先輩
Joined
22 Apr 2003
Messages
9,525
Reaction score
131
Konnichwa minnasan! :)

This is obviously a spin off of Maciamo's earlier thread -- and I started off-handly wanting to make something very simple like:

"Even if Japan isn't necessarily an intellectual country, the people are (still) very kind."

but it was a little harder than I expected. :p

Because I don't want there to be the implication that for sure it is not such a country or, obviously, to presume that people from more intellectual countries normally are kinder. (which maybe the problem with ex. A? ~~ Trans: Even with the assumption that Japan (isn't necessarily) an intellectual country, the people are (still?) very kind?). Funny English desune. :p

These are the two I came up with. I know for sure A is grammatical, can you also say it the second way?

A. 「たとえ(必ずしも)日本があまり知的な国でないとしても、人々はとても親切です。」

B. 「たとえ必ずしも日本があまり知的な国でもなければ、人々はとても親切です。」

And which (or another) is softer and therefore more natural ? :D

Elizabeth

Dono kuni no mono de mo sorezore chigatta aji ga aru kara.....
 

Mandylion

Omnipotence personified
Contributor
Joined
15 Mar 2003
Messages
1,145
Reaction score
42
Just curious, what is the larger context you are looking to use the phrase? I'm a little confused as to why not being intellectual in any shade of the imagination means people are therefore not kind. Perhaps I missed the little debate on previous threads...?
 

Elizabeth

先輩
Joined
22 Apr 2003
Messages
9,525
Reaction score
131
Originally posted by Mandylion
Just curious, what is the larger context you are looking to use the phrase? I'm a little confused as to why not being intellectual in any shade of the imagination means people are therefore not kind. Perhaps I missed the little debate on previous threads...?

Here is the original thread for everyone who missed it. The jumping off point was to show how many fewer Nobel prizes have been captured, proportional to their populations, by Japanese than Americans or Europeans (although a comparision to the rest of Asia may be more telling). Which just goes to show that since creativity and scientific reasoning are to some extent nurtured in an environment of vibrant philosophic debate, confrontation of ideas, individual expressiveness, etc and Japan is weak on these......ergo generally speaking they are great mechanics and engineers but don't produce the academicians, innovators or risk-takers that win these sorts of prizes.

And there is probably some truth to that. I'm just not sure how to explain the so-called "unusually kind and gracious" part of the Japanese character (while on the subject of generalizations) :D. One explanation I've seen bandied around in some older history texts is the nature of ancient Japanese divinities being particularly amiable -- not only awe-inspiring and powerful, but tending towards the "lovely and pleasant" -- such as worship of rocks and streams, flowers and trees, etc. There may also be interesting contrasts with the Chinese in how imported philosophies such as Buddhism and Confusionism were altered by the Japanese to better suit their more practical and less speculative or dry "natural temperment."

And I actually don't have the background to refute such notions, but was more interested in the translation for personal reasons. To show my boyfriend, who is a software engineer (with fascinating opinions on politics and religion to boot ). :p
 

Maciamo

Twirling dragon
Joined
17 Jul 2002
Messages
3,333
Reaction score
108
I agree with what you said above, Elizabeth.

But isn't it justly because Japanese want to avoid confrontation, arguments and wanting absolutely to know the truth and have a better judgement than others, that they are so liveable and polite ?

Westerners stress individual developement and the search for the ultimate knowledge and truth, which makes good scientists and thinkers of them.

Japanese prioritise the harmony, which makes Japanese very respectful, polite, disciplined and careful of what others think of them. That's why Japan is so peaceful and confortable to live, but that mind-set is propicious for change or rethinking the society, as it would trouble the group harmony.

The Yin and the Yang have each their advantages and disadvantages, but one cannot be the other. The former's strength is the latter's weaknesses and vice-versa.
 

NANGI

先輩
Joined
8 Jan 2003
Messages
2,280
Reaction score
50
Konnichiwa Elizabeth-san!

I talk about only technical topic in Japanese, sorry.:note:

These are the two I came up with. I know for sure A is grammatical, can you also say it the second way?

A. 「たとえ(必ずしも)日本があまり知的な国でないとして
も、人々はとても親切です。」

B. 「たとえ必ずしも日本があまり知的な国でもなければ、
人々はとても親切です。」

And which (or another) is softer and therefore more natural ?
At first, you can not say B. Because this sentence has a mistake in grammar. If you use "...でもなければ", the following is a negative sentence "...でもない" invariably. And usually "...でもなければ...でもない" is not used in the subjunctive mood.

If you use "...でもなければ" in the sentence,
「日本はあまり知的な国でもなければ、
人々はまったく親切でもない。」
This sentence means "Japan isn't an intellectual country. Moreover, the people are not kind at all".
WOW 😲 I never want to make a Japanese friends!:D

Sentence A is perfect in grammar. But this sentence is not natural.
At first, you should not use "necessarily" and "still" in Japanese sentence. Those modifiers make the meaning of a sentence weak and vagueness.
And you should use "Karini" but not "Tatoe" in this case. Both of them means "even if", "Karini" and "Tatoe". But "Tatoe" means "instance" or "comparison" too.

C. 「たとえ日本が知的な国でないとしても、
人々はとても親切です。」
This sentence means "Even if Japan isn't an intellectual country, the people are very kind.", "Japan is not an intellectual country comparatively, but the people are very kind." or "An instance, Japan is not an intellectual country. But the people are very kind.".
WOW, Japan is not an intellectual country!😲

But if you use "Karini" but not "Tatoe", it means only "Even if Japan isn't an intellectual country, the people are very kind.".

D. 「仮に日本が知的な国でないとしても、
人々はとても親切です。」
D is natural.

NANGI
 

Elizabeth

先輩
Joined
22 Apr 2003
Messages
9,525
Reaction score
131
Originally posted by Maciamo
I agree with what you said above, Elizabeth.

But isn't it justly because Japanese want to avoid confrontation, arguments and wanting absolutely to know the truth and have a better judgement than others, that they are so liveable and polite ?

Westerners stress individual developement and the search for the ultimate knowledge and truth, which makes good scientists and thinkers of them.

Japanese prioritise the harmony, which makes Japanese very respectful, polite, disciplined and careful of what others think of them. That's why Japan is so peaceful and confortable to live, but that mind-set is propicious for change or rethinking the society, as it would trouble the group harmony.

The Yin and the Yang have each their advantages and disadvantages, but one cannot be the other. The former's strength is the latter's weaknesses and vice-versa.
I don't know -- there are so many points to consider in these sorts of cultural value and identity issues. I think there is probably tremendous tension in Japanese society, now, between the desire for greater individual expressiveness, more representative democracy etc and keeping the social order. You'd have to look at some value surveys to see what people are really looking for as opposed to how things have just turned out more or less as an accident of history (not having to deal with minority populations, colonizing forces, etc which have instilled this sense of harmony, dependence and tacit understanding among the people ). Nowadays I don't think many kids, esp in one-child families, for instance, are socialized at home to respect the family or avoid controntation at all cost, although this may still be the social norm and how they're expected to act at school and in public.
And there are obviously gradations between countries on all these points. Generally speaking Korean culture seems more open to debate and controversy but I'm not sure they are producing more scientists or great thinkers as a result. On the other hand, China seems to have struck more of a balance between these extremes than Japan -- producing world-class scientists and certainly having a history of great thinkers within the existing social order.
Anyway, a lot of these differences are likely more reactions to residual political and historical circumstances than what the people of today really value or want for their countries.
 

Maciamo

Twirling dragon
Joined
17 Jul 2002
Messages
3,333
Reaction score
108
@Chinese
I don't think Chinese are the prototype of social order anf harmony. They like rough confrontation maybe even more than Westerners. It seems to be the antithesis of Japanese conception of relationship and politeness. If China knows social order, it's because its government doesn't heitate to use extreme methods, such as executing people who disobey, break the law or criticise the authorities. Not really what I call a mentality of group compromise and harmony, like in Japan where bosses and employees avoid direct confrontation as much as possible to settle problems.
 

Elizabeth

先輩
Joined
22 Apr 2003
Messages
9,525
Reaction score
131
Originally posted by NANGI
Konnichiwa Elizabeth-san!
At first, you should not use "necessarily" and "still" in Japanese sentence. Those modifiers make the meaning of a sentence weak and vagueness.
And you should use "Karini" but not "Tatoe" in this case. Both of them means "even if", "Karini" and "Tatoe". But "Tatoe" means "instance" or "comparison" too.

C. ツ「窶堋ス窶堙??堋ヲ窶愿コ窶怒窶堋ェ窶冦窶廬窶堙按坂?倪?堙??堙遺?堋「窶堙??堋オ窶堙??堙?ツ、
ツ人ツ々窶堙坂?堙??堙??堙?ツ親ツ静倪?堙??堋キツ。ツ」
This sentence means "Even if Japan isn't an intellectual country, the people are very kind.", "Japan is not an intellectual country comparatively, but the people are very kind." or "An instance, Japan is not an intellectual country. But the people are very kind.".
WOW, Japan is not an intellectual country!😲

But if you use "Karini" but not "Tatoe", it means only "Even if Japan isn't an intellectual country, the people are very kind.".

D. ツ「窶ーツシ窶堙俄?愿コ窶怒窶堋ェ窶冦窶廬窶堙按坂?倪?堙??堙遺?堋「窶堙??堋オ窶堙??堙?ツ、
ツ人ツ々窶堙坂?堙??堙??堙?ツ親ツ静倪?堙??堋キツ。ツ」
D is natural.

NANGI
Arigatou Nangi-san!

I can see that sentence D is more open to interpretation (could be intellectual or not) than C. But in English it still reads something like: ' while Japan probably isn't an intellectual country, maybe I could be mistaken and it really is. Regardless, the people are still nice' to iu kanji da to omoimasu.

You might not have something like the true subjunctive "even if it wasn't" or "even if it weren't" that would be most natural in English if you really thought something was intellectual but that didn't matter in how kind the people were.

For instance, "Even if Japan weren't an intellectual country, the people would still be nice." This gives the firm impression that it is an intellectual place, but that isn't determinant of how nice the people are.

Demo nihon ga chitekinakuni de aroga nakaroga hitobito wa totemo shinsetsu desune. 👍
 
Last edited:

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Top Bottom