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Actually there are two instances of という in this sentence (regarding the recent nsa scandal)


I understand the basic use of という and it meaning "called" i.e.

アダムという男性 the man called Adam.

But what about in these two cases.

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I disagree with the four closevotes here. という is very subtle, and hasn't really been explained very well in the other threads. – Billy Jun 19 '13 at 14:48
The criteria for duplicate right now are "Is this specific question answered by one of the answers on another question?" If the linked answer doesn't solve the asker's problem, then it shouldn't be marked as a duplicate, even if it covers the same subject matter. – snailplane Jun 19 '13 at 16:03
Yes i have read other links but didnt see how they explained the later use of という in my given answer. Also how do you append furigana to the kanji like someone did above in their edit? – Adam Jul 24 '13 at 11:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I will attempt to answer this, as no one else has, Below is my attempt at a translation (my apologies, all, for any mistakes.) I believe the the first という can be interpreted as "of" (as in "disclosure of") and the second という can be interpreted as "of which" (as in " the timing of which.") I surmise that if you think of how の can connect ideas as a particle, then maybe という is serving that function, but in a vaguer, more conjectural sense. I think if you translate という in a literal way, it becomes something like "to say/called thusly/meaning/in other words/so to say." One could try and convey this meaning in an English translation but I think it would become overly polite and unwieldy.

という can also have the meaning of the "quotative particle," more casually seen as って, and understanding this may serve to explain some of its meaning and usage.

そのスノーデンは、「NSAは中国に対するハッキングをやっていた」という 暴露 を行なってアメリカの中国に対する「人権外交」にダメージを与えたり、G8会議が北アイルランドで始まるというタイミングで、...

Snowden, whose disclosure of "NSA hacking towards China" resulted in damage to America's "Human rights diplomacy" towards China, at the start of the G8 meeting in North Ireland, the timing of which...

Perhaps one could replace という with の as follows:

そのスノーデンは、「NSAは中国に対するハッキングをやっていた」の 暴露

With という, there is the implication of " the 'disclosure' of Snowden... "

While with の it would just be "the disclosure of Snowden..."

Please note that in informal English, the equivalent of the Japanese って is often the use of the physical gesture of "air quotes." という, in contrast, can be more directly translated, but if translated literally it can often weigh down an otherwise fluid English sentence, in ways that does not happen in Japanese.





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I couldn't think of an adequate example equating の with という. Do you all think this idea is flawed or is there something to it? – yadokari Jun 19 '13 at 17:23
"Please note that in informal English, the equivalent of the Japanese って is often the use of the physical gesture of "air quotes."" I like this explanation. I would say the same was true of という too, to some extent, with the caveat that "air quotes" give very informal English, whereas という and sometimes even って are perfectly acceptable in more high-register Japanese. – Billy Jul 20 '13 at 22:49
yadokari thank you so much for your answer. My apologies for the late reply. This was my first question on the site and on submission was told i hadnt fully registerd. I was under the impression my question was pending and not public yet. Just come to "register" and found all was actually ok. Meanwhile ive done some research of my own. Unfortunately it looks like im going to have to open up an answer of my own due to lack of space here. – Adam Jul 24 '13 at 11:05

In addition to yadokari's great answer and for lack of space in his comments I'll write up what ive found here.

Amongst other uses of という one is often used to attach a modifier to a noun clause.

From the given example 「NSAは中国に対するハッキングをやっていた」is the modifer and 暴露 を行なって the noun clause.

It's often used especially when the modifer is either

  • heresay
  • a question
  • or simply very long

Heresay i.e. information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated or a rumor.

Relating to

「NSAは中国に対するハッキングをやっていた」という 暴露

It would indeed make sence to use という here to connect the noun clause 暴露をおかなう with its preceeding modifier. After all the reporter can only allege that the NSA is hacking China (at the time anyway, its been verified as true i now believe) so its heresay.

This I believe is what people mean by air-quoting.

Now onto the last sentence in the example


I believe this is just because the writer felt the modifier G8会議が北アイルランドで始まる was long and felt the need to join it to タイミング with という。Just to help it read better.

This is why という isn't always translatable into English - its merely serving to make things flow. Just as Yadokari said, if you were to translate it, the most suitable direct translations like "to say/called thusly/meaning/in other words/so to say." would result in stuffy english.

As for using という to connect a question modifier with a noun clause I'll demonstrate with this example


there was a conversation of how to strengthen the economy.

どうやって経済を強化するか modifier (question form)

話がありました。noun clause.

Thanks again to yakokari's answer.

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Thank you for fleshing that out. If only we could combine our intellects in the service of this great language. – yadokari Jul 31 '13 at 15:43

"という" is used here as relative pronoun "that".

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