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The following sentence is from a formal conversation. The student is talking to a teacher.

実は日本語のクラスでプロジェクトワークをしていまして、私は日本の歴史の教科書をトピックに選びました。

Can someone explain to me the EXACT meaning of "教科書をトピックに選びました"? Literally translated it appears that he "chose a textbook", but that seems like a strange thing to say, since students don't normally choose their own textbooks (no other context about the project work is given). As an adverb, I'm not sure what トピックに could mean.

Alternately, could it be an equivalent of 教科書をトピックにする, i.e. "make the textbook into the topic" of the project? Is it common to replace にする with other verbs such as に選ぶ, if this is the case?

Thanks in advance for the help.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Actually, a literal translation will work perfectly here --- provided that one is able to "detect" the implied plurality of the 日本の歴史の教科書.

私は日本の[歴史]{れきし}の[教科書]{きょうかしょ}をトピックに[選]{えら}びました means "I selected Japanese History textbooks as a topic (for my project work in my Japanese language class)."

If it helps, think of it as 私は『日本の歴史の教科書』をトピックに選びました .

トピックに = トピックとして

It is not saying that you can choose your textbook. It is saying you chose "Japanese Hitory textbooks" as a topic.

And yes, you can rephrase it to 日本の歴史の教科書をトピックにする without changing the meaning. It is just that it sounds "better" if you use a more specific verb like 選ぶ than using the broad する. Use [選択]{せんたく}する and it will sound even more formal.

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Thank you, it all makes sense thinking of 教科書 as a broad topic. It seems like you're telling me there are two different structures here though. 1) the particle に was literally substituted for として; 2) the grammatical pattern XをYにする is in use but the する was just replaced with 選ぶ. Can you clarify which it is? –  Hikonyan Dec 27 '13 at 1:45
    
There is a structural difference between 「Aをトピックに選びました 」 and 「Aをトピックにしました 」 even though both basically mean the same thing. The difference is that the に in the first phrase can be replaced with として but the に in the second cannot. Aを modifies 選びました in the first, but in the second, Aを modifies トピックに and トピックに modifies しました. In other words, A is a direct object of the verb in the first phrase, but A is an indirect object in the second. –  Tokyo Nagoya Dec 27 '13 at 13:04
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