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I have this Japanese sentence from a novel:


Which from my trial (but I really get the feeling it is wrongly translated) I translate to:

Even with just this, the village can amply prosper, since because the Slaude river has no bridge, both the nature and the people become the ferry of the village.

The part which makes me more unsure would be 自然と人は渡し舟の多いこの町を通ることになるのだ。 Does it mean that nature and people are something together, like acting as metaphorical ferries?

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Is there any way you can identify the parts about the sentence that make you think your translation might be wrong and make it into a question about Japanese rather than a proofreading request? –  ssb Jul 3 at 4:04
The part which makes me more unsure would be 自然と人は渡し舟の多いこの町を通ることになるのだ。 in which I translated to both the nature and the people become the ferry of the village. but even the english translated part hardly make sense, hence I'm lost on how to properly translate. –  Yakobu Jul 3 at 4:51
I tried editing your question to make it into something a little less "please check my translation." Please change anything if it doesn't match what you need help with. –  ssb Jul 3 at 5:15
Something like: "That alone would be enough for the town to prosper, but what's more, since there's no bridge across the Slaude, people naturally end up passing through this town, which has many ferries." –  snailboat Jul 3 at 11:39
自然と≒自然に、割と≒割に、意外と≒意外に ・・・などがありますね。 –  Choko Jul 3 at 22:44

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

自然と人は渡し舟の多いこの町を通ることになるのだ。 is not referring to nature and people. It's a statement about what people do as one might reasonably be able to deduce given the nature of the situation. It's like saying "naturally" in English. 自然と becomes more like an adverb and not a noun with which something is done.

If we simplify it a little bit, we can see this: 人はこの町を通る. If we find the roots of the sentence we can get a better idea of what's going on around it. So let's start from the idea that people are going through the town.

橋がないせいで means that whatever is happening is happening, as you noted, because there is no bridge. With our new knowledge of what 自然と means, can say infer that whatever is going on is happening as a natural consequence of there being no bridge. So, naturally, people are passing through this town because there's no bridge. But why this town?

渡し船の多いこの町: this town which has a lot of ferries. This is how you should parse this part. is like , and この is thrown in at a spot that feels weird for English speakers. But it makes sense. There's no bridge, so naturally people pass through this town that has a lot of ferries. We assume that this status as a port for ferry passage contributes to the town's economic prosperity mentioned in the beginning.

So again, here's how to parse the tricky part:

[ スラウド川には橋がないせいで ] [ 自然と ]->[ 人は [[ [ 渡し舟の多い ] この町 ] を通る ] [ ことになる ] [ のだ ]。

There might be better ways to bracket it all off, but I tried to show where we can split it to get a good idea of what is doing what.

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More as an adverb then a noun. I had my doubts of it being the case, but was more used to see an adverb with に, hence my confusion since was kinda expecting something like 自然に To parse の to が, haven't seen so often, but it does make sense. So a second atempt to translate: Even with just that alone is plenty for the village to prosper, since the Slaude river has no bridge, people will naturally frequent the town through its many ferries. Makes sense? not quite? –  Yakobu Jul 3 at 15:48
"frequent the town through its many ferries" feels like it misses the nuance a little bit. The idea is that people end up in this town because that's where the ferries are. If you say it your way it feels to me like people are using ferries to get to that town specifically whereas people are using the town to get to the ferries. @Yakobu –  ssb Jul 4 at 2:36

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