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I'm translating an excerpt for fun, but this section struck me as odd:


This is how I translated that section:

In mid-motion, she stopped and slowly lowered to the table the cup she had raised to her lips. And after that, as though her soul had left her, she went mute. As I watched, like a flower in time-lapse, her eyes sank inward, her nose drooped, and the color of her skin that had been so smooth, lost its tension like chamois leather. Around her lips, a dark stain appeared like that left by mulberries.

My problem is, the idea of "color" losing tension or pluck (candidate translations of 張り) feels nonsensical in English. One hypothesis is that も is actually attached to 肌, not 色.

What do you think?

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Maybe the word 色 means [色艶]{いろつや}? – user1016 Feb 19 '14 at 16:49
(The みるみる means みるみるうちに / あっという間に) – user1016 Feb 19 '14 at 16:55
In Tangorin online dictionary one of the meanings given to 張り is Tone, with this sentence as an example : 彼の肌は青年の肌のように張りがある。 His skin has the tone of a young man's. – Ryan Feb 19 '14 at 20:31
肌の「張り」って、firmnessでは?「すべすべだった肌が、揉み革みたいに、弾力を失ってしわしわになった」って言ってるのでは・・・? – user1016 Feb 19 '14 at 23:22
いえ、私は、「あれほど滑らかだった肌の色も」色meaning#3 は「あんなにすべすべだった肌の色つやも」色つやmeaning1のことを言ってると思うので・・・。この場合の「肌の色」って、肌の表面の「光沢」や「反射する光」も含まれると思いますが・・・。 – user1016 Feb 21 '14 at 3:06

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It makes sense if the つや in 色つや is

2 なめらかで張りがあり美しいこと。「若々しい―のある声」「肌に―がある」

and not

1 物の表面から出るしっとりとした光。光沢。「宝石を磨いて―を出す」


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To answer the title question, yes, it is. The particle 「も」 cannot mark a word anywhere else but right in front of it.

The main thing that is preventing both OP and the first "answerer" from understanding and appreciating this sentence seems to be their belief that 「色」 always means "color". Look it up in a good dictionary -- a monolingual one, of course. It will give you a dozen meanings and one of them will be 色つや = "luster".

"Luster" can surely 揉み皮のように張りを失う, can it not?

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I am not certain how luster, a description of light reflection, can be directly linked to the tension or pluck of skin without further explanation. (Replacing it in my translation does not help.) In other words, it seemed quite odd to me that 〜の色 would be interposed when the conceptual connections without it make comparatively more convincing. To see this, instead remove 肌の〜 and reread. If there is evidence that the concepts as is are immediately palpable, I would love to see it. – Trevor Alexander Jul 17 '14 at 4:23

Is it an excerpt from a novel?

It does seem weird both in Japanese and English. One possibility is that the 黒いおり at the end of the sentence is attached to 肌の色:


The color of her skin that had been so smooth, has lost its tension like chamois leather, and between her lips there were black stains, as if she had just ate some mulberries.

so that everything between 肌の色 and 黒いおり describes how her skin, which was once smooth, has changed.

Anyway, it is a weird sentence.

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It is not a weird sentence. – l'électeur Jul 17 '14 at 2:02

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