Background, problem statement
Very often, I find myself in situations where I have to build structurally complex sentences in Japanese, and find myself struggling, trying to put all I want to say in a single sentence. As far as the other languages I know well enough go, it's not an issue since
- they have relative pronouns that resolve many ambiguities (that, which, who, whose, qui, que, dont, auquel…),
- their grammar allow incremental stacking of relatives, starting with the base of the sentence (see example).
I guess there are two viable solutions to my problem, but I never really paid attention to which was usually chosen in spoken (nor, in fact, written) Japanese.
Solution 1, the most likely
Break your sentence in many small chunks, make a sentence of each chunk, and convince yourself that unlike French or English, it's not awkward to have a train of sentences like "Aです。Bです。AとBの関係はCです。Dです。CとDの関係はEです…"
Solution 2, the "wished" one
It is possible to express unambiguously sentences like
On Monday, the dog that ate the pudding that I cooked and whose owner's sister I met yesterday will be castrated.
My attempt at this sentence would be like:
But even though I feel quite satisfied with this simple, quite linear one, I don't think it's likely to be heard… (FWIW, the sentences I build are often describing inter-related complex mathematical relations, which makes thing even harder…)
The recent remark on "invertion" makes me wonder even more if this common to have such sentences, because inversion may cause ambiguities to arise:
The person with a Japanese interlocutor? The Japanese with an interlocutor?
The partner with a Japanese person? The person with a Japanese partner?
- Do you have issues expressing complex relations in Japanese?
- How do you get round this issues?
- Are there relation patterns in English that you will definitely break into several Japanese sentences?
- Do you have trouble understanding the aforementioned kind of Japanese sentences?
And subsidiary question, if ambiguity is definitely a major issue to all: how could the language not evolve to avoid ambiguities?