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I have this sentence in my JLPT textbook:

話{はなし}の種{たね}に、新{あたら}しくできたレストランに食{た}べに行{い}ってみた。

I think I understand the part after the comma, which I believe is saying, "... tried to go eat at the new restaraunt."

But I have a hard time connecting it with the part before the comma, 話{はなし}の種{たね}に. 話{はなし}の種{たね} is, as far as I understand it, a "topic of conversation."

Does it mean something like, "We went to go eat at the new restaraunt to have a conversation"? Or maybe, "we talked about going to eat at the new restaurant"?

What does this sentence mean, and how does it come together?

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"(By the way), while we're on this topic/subject, (I want to say that) I went to try a new restaurant". –  Flaw Mar 11 '13 at 12:56
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The most natural reading of the sentence is something like this:

I went to the new restaurant because I thought it would be an interesting experience to bring up in conversation.

So sure, as ssb says, the speaker could be about to bring it up in conversation now, or he could have brought it up in the past or could bring it up in the future. But the important thing is that at the time that he went the intention (or one of the intentions) was to be able to bring it up in conversation later.

Just some cultural background: It's not uncommon for Japanese to talk about the fact that even if an experience wasn't enjoyable or useful per se, it was (might be) useful because of its value in conversation.

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This says pretty succinctly some of what I was trying to capture but didn't include very well for whatever reason. Important to note that this guy went there basically to be able to talk about it. –  ssb Mar 12 '13 at 6:51
    
I transferred the green check to this answer, because as @ssb says himself, it is a little more succinct. After reading this answer, I felt a lot more clear on the meaning. All answers are much appreciated though! –  Dave M G Mar 12 '13 at 12:21
    
No worries, this answer is better than mine! –  ssb Mar 12 '13 at 13:42
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話の種 does mean topic of conversation, but it's not referring to a conversation that took place within the context of the sentence. Rather it's introducing the idea of going to eat at the new restaurant as a topic of conversation. Without context it might be a little hard to say exactly what the speaker means, but it's something like this. There was a new restaurant, and maybe a lot of people around town are interested in it or something. So this person went to eat, and is bringing it up in the conversation, like "hey you might be interested in knowing that I went to the new restaurant!" The intent is that they will then talk about it. As Flaw mentions 話の種に can have the meaning of something like "while we're on the topic," so if they were already talking about restaurants or something related, then yes, it would mean that. Otherwise the suggestion is just that it has been a topic of conversation lately (in general), and that this person went to the restaurant specifically so he could talk about it.

So the conversation is taking place now. The speaker went to the restaurant and wants to talk about it.

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Would you agree with @Flaw's comment that 話の種に... can mean something like "By the way, while we're on the topic..."? –  Dave M G Mar 12 '13 at 0:00
    
Yes, however it doesn't have to be that. Without context we don't know. –  ssb Mar 12 '13 at 0:10
    
At least that's the conclusion that I arrived at after discussing it with a native speaker. If someone wants to rule more authoritatively on that then by all means correct me. –  ssb Mar 12 '13 at 1:19
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