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This sentence originally came from a newspaper article. Unfortunately, I copied it onto a flashcard for later study and then lost the original context.

彼は、可能性について「念頭に全くない」と否定した。

【かれは、かのうせいに ついて 「ねんとうに まったくない」と ひていした。

What I'm confused about is the end part that says と否定した. Does it mean that he denied the statement, or that he was denying the possibility?

Which of these following translations is more correct?

  • Speaking of the possibilities, he denied saying "it's totally not on my mind."
  • Speaking of the possibilities, he denied them, saying "it's totally not on my mind."
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I believe it's a statement of denial. If he were denying the statement it would probably be something like 〜ことを否定した — i.e. with a direct object instead of a quote. –  Zhen Lin Sep 20 '11 at 9:26
    
The latter makes far more sense in English, and in common-sense terms, really. It would take quite a strange circumstance to deny saying that you weren't considering a possibility... –  Karl Knechtel Sep 23 '11 at 20:04
    
@Dave it's more that it's a strange thing to end up having to deny. –  Karl Knechtel Sep 25 '11 at 4:35
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

(Possibly this was the original context, and you cut it down for the flashcard? http://ch25oda.kitaguni.tv/e1678763.html )

He is denying "可能性", and 「念頭に全くない」 is quoting the phrasing he used to deny it.

You can think of it as close to:

彼は、可能性について「念頭に全くない」と言って否定した。

"Regarding the possibility, he denied it, saying..."

As opposed to:

彼は、可能性について「念頭に全くない」と言ったことを否定した。

"Regarding the possiblity, he denied saying that..."

Indirect quoting is also fine:

念頭に全くないと否定した。

Alternative arrangement with similar meaning:

「念頭に全くない」と可能性を否定した。

Another example utilising a quote + associated verb, and then を否定、 since I just saw it pop up on Yomiuri:

「中国政府は一貫してハッカー攻撃に反対している。中国も国外からのハッカー攻撃を受けている主要な被害国であり、中国がハッカー攻撃を仕掛ける拠点との見解は根拠がない」などと述べ、中国の関与を否定した。

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