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As part of a larger block of text, my JLPT textbook has this sentence:

私{わたし}たちは、コトバに対{たい}して一種{いっしゅ}のぬぐいがたい軽視{けいし}、軽{かる}く見{み}る傾向{けいこう}が一般{いっぱん}にあるといっていいかもしれません。

I'm specifically confused about the コトバに対{たい}して一種{いっしゅ}のぬぐいがたい軽視{けいし} part.

First, I think the ぬぐい in ぬぐいがたい is from 拭{ぬぐ}う, as in, "to wipe away" or "to eliminate". So, it's something like "when facing words we eliminate one type"...?

For the whole sentence, it comes across to me as something like, "All of us, when facing words it's easy to eliminate one type with contempt, maybe you could say we generally tend to look at them lightly." Which doesn't really add up to something sensible. I went with "contempt" for 軽視{けいし}, though other definitions are "disdain" or "make light of", but no matter how I translate it, I can't see how it fits.

One type of what? One type of words? Why would we wipe them away?

What exactly does this sentence mean?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

コトバに対して[一種の[ぬぐいがたい軽視]] (or in other words)、軽く見る傾向がある

The ぬぐいがたい is 拭う (to wipe) + 難い (difficult to~). So when we say ぬぐいがたい軽視 we are talking about that 軽視 being something that it is difficult to wipe away. Next, do not think of 軽視 as contempt. The words immediately following are rephrasing it. 軽視 is just to treat something with little importance, or in other words, 「軽く見る」. I do not believe (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) that 軽視 has any sort of enmity or ill will in it that you might find with a word like "contempt."

So コトバに対して一種のぬぐいたい軽視 would be a sort of undervaluing or disregard of words that is difficult to "wipe away," if we use the metaphor of the original. Ultimately the passage this is from is probably making a point about the importance of words.

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2  
Great paragraph #2. That is the tone of the sentence in question. Words like "contempt" and "disdain" sound off, particularly the former. It is only saying that we tend to take others' words too lightly. –  非回答者 Jun 24 at 8:53
    
I also now realize I was confusing ~がたい with ~がち, so I was thinking it was "easy to wipe away" instead of "difficult to wipe away". Doh! –  Dave M G Jun 25 at 5:24

ぬぐいがたい means “difficult (reluctant) to wipe away”, and it refers to the 軽視。 一種の (“one type of”) is used like the English phrase “a certain…”

So, taking just the core of the sentence:

私たちは、コトバに対して一種のぬぐいがたい軽視がある。

“We have, towards words, a certain disdain which is difficult to wipe away.”

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