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To outline the context, this is from a Legend of Zelda videogame guidebook I am translating.

I'm pretty sure the meaning below is that you should not worry about not being able to control the character (Link) at first because you will soon get the hang of it. But why does it end as 心配なく ? I usually use 心配ない (さ) to say "don't worry" but why is this なく ?

Is it some kind of slang-y variation of ない ?


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It's a set phrase. I don't know enough to post as an answer, but would imagine if drawn out into a fuller form it would be something to the effect of 心配なくしてもいい。 –  Kaji Mar 19 '14 at 14:02
You'd normally say ごXXなく / おXXなく. eg ご心配なく、お忘れなく、お気遣いなく、ご遠慮なく、お構いなく... (Originates from ご心配なきよう, maybe??) –  Choko Mar 19 '14 at 14:14
ご心配なく is a common set expression. eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=ご心配なく –  yadokari Mar 19 '14 at 14:34
@virmaior, well, nobody is really addressing the question of whether this is idiomatic without the ご. I personally think it looks a bit out of place here without the ご. –  dainichi Mar 20 '14 at 0:26
@dainichi I was thinking the same thing (although my intuition is probably not a reliable indicator :-). Checking BCCWJ, I see 113 instances of 心配なく, of which 102 are preceded by or . Of the remaining 11, only one is used to end a sentence, and that one is in informal dialogue. In contrast, almost every occurrence preceded by does end a sentence. –  snailboat Mar 20 '14 at 0:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First I think you have understood the sentence correctly. Your question is one that can be (and has been) answered very briefly if we assume you understand certain dynamics of Japanese grammar. Unfortunately explaining the dynamics takes a bit longer but this is my attempt:

1) When a sentence ends with a phrase such as 心配なく I would say there is an "elipsis" or unspoken phrase that is so clear it does not need to be said and, as a result, the phrase has become a set expression in itself. There are many cases of this in Japanese. For example 電車に乗らなくちゃ (I have to catch the train) is an abbreviation of 電車に乗らなくちゃいけない (ちゃ=ては))

2) なく is normally found in the middle of a sentence and introduces a pause (almost "mini-climax") before finishing with a definite statement (punchline?) such as the following example:

外国へ行くとしたら、ただの旅行ではなく、勉強を 目的として 行きたい。
If I ever go abroad, I don't want to travel for just pleasure, I would like to go to study.

When a sentence ends in 心配なく the speaker is typically saying something along the lines of "Don't worry...(it'll be alright, there is no problem)" or "Don't worry...(it'll be alright for the reasons just discussed). eg

   ~ don't worry, there is no problem

We also see this in polite set phrases:

Please don't wait, start eating

3) Before looking at your sentence it might be helpful remember that in spoken Japanese phrases are often given in reverse order, possibly because the speaker wants to communicate key words first eg 「僕は行かない」 might become 「行かない、僕は」.

In your sentence it should be easy to see there is no need to add anything to the existing sentence because the important matters have already been said and if we reverse the order we get:

"At first you might not be able to control Link but you should not worry because you will soon get the hang of it"

In your comment you ask about honorifics. As you can see from your example sentence, I would say they are not required in casual conversation but the point you raise is also illustrated in polite set phrases, when they certainly should be used. Possibly a native speaker might clarify this for us but in context of your sentence, if I wanted to be less casual it might be sufficient to deliver the sentence in the "normal order", ending the sentence with です.

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I always wondered if the verb-first phrasing was just bad grammar on my part. Now I know! –  Kaji Mar 20 '14 at 1:28
This is brilliant. Thank you so much for the extra information & examples. –  VictorySaber Mar 20 '14 at 8:31

お・ご~ある・ない is an honorific expression, but 心配ない clearly does not belongs to it.

  1. I think “little” verbs like ~ない, ~ある, etc. are often somehow used as adjective suffixes. So you can consider 心配ない as an adjective, the が between 心配 and ない is not strictly required.

  2. 心配 can actually act as a noun, which is different from the 連用形 of verbs. You may see phrases like “~の心配なく”. It does not require お or ご to be grammatical, either.

  3. ~することなく is an classic way to say ~せず/~しないで, and still being used in modern Japanese. Phrases like 心配なく, 遠慮なく, etc. might be similar to them, because 心配 and 遠慮 basically means 心配すること and 遠慮すること. Nevertheless, the structure does seem very productive any longer.

  4. Both ~く and ~ず form are often used as imperatives and adverbs.

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