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Can は mean "at least" in some situations?

For example, 10回は="at least 10 times?"

How does this work?

This is an example:

美味しかったぁ。腹いっぱい。今日のところはジャスミン茶は諦めよう。何回もドリンクバー行くの恥ずかしいし。一人じゃなかったら余裕で10回は行ってやるんだからな!

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I added the sentence where I saw it. –  language hacker Oct 10 '11 at 2:44
3  
My senseiin college translated "Xは" as "as far as X is concerned", which often overlaps with "at least for X". But this "at least" is not referring to the quantity or amount as in "10 times or more", but it's more like refining the context as in "if we are talking about 10 times ..." –  Lukman Oct 10 '11 at 3:07

2 Answers 2

一人じゃなかったら余裕で10回は行ってやるんだからな!

"quantifier+は" basically expresses "at least."

It's logic is as follows.

1) a quantifier usually precedes a verb without a particle. [literally "unmarked"] ex. 10回、行く

2) In general, the particle は is used when a speaker wants to pick a phrase out of other similar possible phrases. This function typically appears when a speaker wants to talk about a phrase in contrast to another phrase.

3) When は is added to a quantifier, the quantifier is explained in contrast to its double amount. ex. (20回は行かない。しかし、)10回は行く。

4) Thus, it means "I will go (to the free-drink corner) at least 10 times (with a margin of frequency) (if I was not alone).

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Where does "contrast to its double amount" come from? I don't understand that part. –  sawa Oct 11 '11 at 2:32
    
Concerning the function of は, it is most natural to suggest the existence of the double amount of the original quantifier, although it doesn't have to be an exact double. This has no established source. I am suggesting it from my native speaker's instinct. Japanese number system is based on two multiples. (eg. 1:hitotsu/2:hutatsu, 3:mittsu/6:muttsu, 4:yottsu/8:yattsu) Quantifier+はorも 10回は行く=(20回は行かないが、)10回は行く →at least 10 times 10回も行く=(5回も行く。それだけではなく、)10回も行く →as many times as 10 times は:comparison between X & Y, X≠Y, restrictive も:comparison between X & Y, X=Y, additive –  Tomoseki Oct 11 '11 at 2:58
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Why is the origin of native numerals relevant to the interpretation of a topic? With , the native reading is irrelevant; the Chinese-based reading is adopted (いっかい, にかい, さんかい, ...). Furthermore, 10 does not fit in any of the paired numerals you are talking about. Still more, this usage of topic is possible with any number. –  sawa Oct 11 '11 at 3:30

Note: this was originally a comment. I'm re-posting it as a full answer.

My sensei in college translated "Xは" as "as far as X is concerned", which often overlaps with "at least for X". But this "at least" is not referring to the quantity or amount as in "10 times or more", but it's more like refining the context as in "if we are talking about 10 times ..." or "as for 10 times ...".

一人じゃなかったら余裕で10回は行ってやるんだからな can be translated as literally as follows:

If I was not alone, for 10 times would I go there with ease.

Rephrasing it into more comprehensible sentence:

If I was not alone, I would easily go there for 10 times.

There is nothing to deduce about "less than 10 times" or "more than 10 times" because the topic of the sentence, marked by "は" is limiting the theoretical situation to "10 times".

But, if we look at the context, if the speaker could go there 10 times, could s/he go there 9 times? Probably yes, because in the context of going to the drink machine to refill drinks, the more often s/he goes the more embarrassing it would be, so if s/he thought s/he'd be fine going there 10 times, s/he would be fine going there 9 times or less too, wouldn't s/he? Now, would s/he be fine going there 11 times? We wouldn't be able to deduce that without further clarification from the speaker. S/he might already turn bright red after 10 times and who knows what would happen if s/he went the 11th times? So, in this context, it's actually "at most 10 times", and not "at least 10 times". Again, this deduction came from the context, and not from the use of "は" particle in the sentence.

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