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I’m struggling to translate and understand this example dialogue from my textbook.

学生:先生、どうして私たちはこんなにたくさん漢字を勉強させられるんですか。

先生:だれも勉強させていませんよ。だれのために勉強しているんですか。

学生: 自分です。

My attempt at translation:

Student: Teacher, why must we study lots of these kind of Kanji?

Teacher: Not everyone has to study them…..

Student: Myself.

I’m not entirely sure why the causative-passive form is being used in the first sentence. Why not just causative? I also don’t understand how to translate だれのために and have it make sense – ‘In order for who’?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In the first sentence, it's passive causative, because the subject/topic of the sentence is "we (students)".

A very literal translation would be

先生、どうして私たちはこんなにたくさん漢字を勉強させられるんですか。
Teacher, why are we made to study this many kanji?

だれも勉強させていませんよ。だれのために勉強しているんですか。
Nobody is making you study. For whose sake are you studying?

自分です。
For our own sake...

Xのため is a very common way of saying something like "for X's own good".

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I understand now. The だれも clearly threw off my translation as I didn't realise it could translate to 'nobody' when used with a negative verb. –  Mononoke Jun 6 at 14:51
    
Oh, yes, that's a very useful rule to remember. Question word + も with negative verb gives "nothing, nobody, nowhere, etc." –  Earthliŋ Jun 6 at 14:58

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