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I have this sentence in a practise JLPT question:

サッカー選手{せんしゅ}がずらっと並{なら}んでいる。

According to the dictionary I referenced, ずらっと means to "be in a line", and 並{なら}ぶ means "to line up", so wouldn't that make the sentence above redundant? Something like, "The soccer players lined up in a line"?

What does this sentence convey that is different from サッカー選手{せんしゅ}が並{なら}んでいる? What is the nuance I'm missing?

If ずらっと or 並{なら}ぶ mean something other than the dictionary defition linked above, then what is that meaning?

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ずらっと implies large amount. And I think 擬態語 are usually more vivid and concrete, even when they mean the same as verbs. –  Yang Muye May 3 at 19:22

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

ずらっと indicates the speaker is impressed at how abundant and neat the line is. So it has to be an impressive number of things, and the line has to be neat.

For example, this is definitely ずらっと:

neat impressive line

Whereas this is border line because it's not that impressive number of players:

just a team

This is 並んでいる but clearly not ずらっと as there are only two people:

only two

This can be said to be 並んでいる, but clearly not ずらっと because the line is not neat: in a bunch

EDIT:
並ぶ means there is some parallelism and can be used quite liberally. For example in horse racing, one might shout 「並んだ!」when more than two horses overlap in the course (e.g. see this).

You can't use 並ぶ when it's a completely unorganized cluster, but if there is even a vaguely recognizable structure of lines (which can be multiple columns), it can be used.

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Thanks for this answer. What I'm really surprised at is that the definition of 並ぶ is far broader than I thought. I thought 並ぶ had to be more of a line, like queueing for a movie. I would never have imagined 並ぶ could be just two people, or an unorganized cluster like the picture of the kids. Is 並ぶ more like "assembly" or "gathering" then? –  Questioner May 4 at 3:39
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@DaveMG: Added some edit, HTH. I also changed the kids picture to a one from a news article because it seemed a bit unfair. In the original picture I shared, I think the kids are actually doing 3列に並ぶ, but got a bit unorganized after a while, so that's why you could still say they are 並んでいる –  Enno Shioji May 4 at 8:53

In line with the comment, take a look at the goo dict entry:

http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/120311/m1u/%E3%81%9A%E3%82%89%E3%81%A3%E3%81%A8/

[副]人や物がたくさん並び連なっているさま。ずらり。「著名人が―名を連ねる」

While dictionaries can often be overly prescriptive and precise, it seems to me that the adverb here is more specific than the verb, thus giving a specific quality. It can also, as in the example, be used with 連なる. So there is a separate job for each of these verbs and adverbs, and they have their own content to contribute.

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What exactly would that specific quality be, then? For example, how are the soccer players lined up differently than if the sentence had simply said, サッカー選手が並んでいる? –  Questioner May 3 at 11:41
    
My guess is that it's just for emphasis. たくさん is the word I focused on in that definition. If you said "they lined up neatly in a straight line", well a line that is straight is neat by definition, but you add "neatly" to emphasize that it's neat –  無色受想行識 May 3 at 19:03

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