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These two phrases seem to have very similar usage and I'm unable to determine the difference between them.

The examples I have are:

彼は服装からしてだらしない。きっと他の面も同じだろう。
kare ha fukusou karashite darashinai. kitto hoka no men mo onaji darou.

症状からすると、心臓の病気かもしれません。
shoujyou kara suru to, shinzou no byouki kamo shiremasen.

However, both of these phrases seem to translate to the English word "from" or "based on". I've asked a few Japanese friends about the difference, but they were unable to explain it eloquently.

Is it possible to switch からすると and からして in the preceding examples? Will it still be grammatically correct.

(Additionally, からして seems to have the meaning of "for a start" as in ひらがなからして読めない or "For a start, I can't even read hiragana." But this usage seems to be completely separate to the "from" or "based on" usage.)

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I would not say ひらがなからして読めない to mean "I can't even read hiragana." This would be better said as ひらがなさえ読めない. If you wanna use 〜からして, something like ひらがなからして日本語のいろいろの勉強がめんどうくさい ("Beginning with hiragana, studying various aspects of Japanese is hassle") would be better. –  istrasci Jun 15 '11 at 14:24

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As @Oren Ronen mentioned, there are actually two different grammar constructs concerning this.

Case 1: ~からして, meaning "beginning with". This is used in a list of examples (often incomplete), primarily in a negative context.

  • 私はあの人があまり好きではない。下品な話し方からして気に入らない。 -- I don't like that guy very much. Starting with his vulgar talk, he just doesn't sit well with me. (indicates possible other negative aspects about the guy, even though they aren't listed.

Case 2: ~からして(も)~からすると~からすれば. These mean, "thinking about it from the standpoint/position of ..."

  • 米を作る農家からすると、涼しい夏はあまりありがたくないことだ -- From the viewpoint of farmers that produce rice, cool summers are not a very good thing.
  • 芸人とかタレントなどからしていつもファンのためサインするのが大変かもしれない -- Thinking about it from their view, it must be tiring for entertainers and celebrities to always be signing autographs for fans.

Now, in case 2, the three forms are definitely interchangeable (with the nuance of adding to form ~からしても -- "Even from the standpoint of..."), and in fact, they are grouped together for this definition. However, for case 1, I don't believe they are. I've only heard of case 1 using ~からして, but maybe I've just never encountered this meaning with the other forms (any natives feel free to correct this).

Your first example seems to be case 1: the first negative point about the guy's "slackerness" is his clothing. So here I would say they are not interchangeable. But your second example seems to be case 2 ("Looking at the symptoms, it might be a coronary illness"), so you could use ~からすると or ~からすれば here.

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Good answer. Thank you. However now, I have a further question (which might warrant its own separate question) where would から見ると and から言うと come into this? They seem to be used in the same way as Case 2... Perhaps just different ways to say (sort of) the same thing. Hmm. I think it might be worthwhile to make a question which contrasts からすると、から見ると and から言うと. –  phirru Jun 15 '11 at 6:49
    
Hahaha. I've often thought about this, but after researching them, they seem pretty much the same to me; seems like just a different word to mean the same thing ("Making it"/Looking at it/Talking about it from the viewpoint of...). –  istrasci Jun 15 '11 at 6:52
    
One of my references is the same textbook you took your example sentences from, and it seems to ignore the additional sense where it's not "from the point of view of", but judgment based on perceived evidence. I can see how they both may be construed as opposite extremes of the same basic meaning, but I think they are different enough not to be lumped together. –  Oren Ronen Jun 15 '11 at 9:59

I learned them as an interchangable set (along with からすれば thrown into the mix, though that one sounds a little bit more formal to my ears), and the two grammar reference books I just checked don't list any nuance differences between the two. One difference is that adding a も for good measure after からして works better than after からすると, though I don't think it's entirely ungrammatical. A more formal explanation for this sense of the construction is that Xからすると/からしてY means X (a noun phrase) is something perceivable by the speaker, and Y is a judgment based on that.

It should also be noted that the construction carries one more sense for both forms (separate from the alternate からして sense you mention): "from the point of view of..." as in

一般人からすると、この値段は高く感じられることかと思います。

(usage example provided by Google).

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