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I have been going over the JLPT test from 1999 and came across this problem that stumped me. For those planning to take the previous tests as practice you may want to avoid this question.

優勝戦{ゆうしょうせん}は、意外{いがい}に_____勝負{しょうぶ}が決まった。

A あっけなく  B そっけなく  C はかなく  D ものたりなく

The correct answer is A, あっけなく, but I'm not 100 percent sure why this is a better choice than ものたりなく. Even the other two look like acceptable choices to me.

In the end, after looking up all the definitions, I picked A because of the 意外{いがい}に, which suggests that the 優勝戦{ゆうしょうせん} was expected to not be so simply decided. But when I thought about it more, D also seems like a suitable answer because I would expect the championship game to be interesting as much as non-trivial.

I concluded that D was not correct only because I could find many examples of it being used, but I'm afraid I'm still missing some of the nuance behind the correct answer.

For any interested further in my logic, I did this problem on my stream where I go over all the answers and look up examples, recorded at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnmEiRkck3s&feature=channel_video_title from 6'30" and continued at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShOpaZ9iOmw&feature=channel_video_title

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

ものたりない means "unsatisfying" or "lacking something". あっけない means almost the same thing but seems to contain the nuance of "disappointingly brief/short". In fact, my dictionary says ものたりないほど短【みじか】い.

As you mentioned, A is the correct answer because of the 意外に. It's (objectively) expected that the championship match would be exciting and drawn-out. However, it was "unexpectedly, disappointingly short". ものたりない seems to be more subjective to the speaker, so "unexpectedly" isn't really applicable. I.e., matches are not usually played to in a certain way with the intent of giving specific emotions to the spectators; they are played to determine which team/player is better. The enjoyment of the spectators is just a side-effect.

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Thanks. As I state A is the correct answer. Your logic seems to follow that, so is this a typo? –  jlptnone Nov 23 '11 at 23:11
    
Oops, haha. Yes, I'll fix it. –  istrasci Nov 24 '11 at 1:34

According to Yahoo, 呆気ない means simple/unsubstantial and thus uninteresting. It also shows that one's expectations were unfulfilled because something was lacking. Seems very fitting for this. 物足りない doesn't have this rich nuance. It can be pretty much directly translated. It means something, you may or may not know what, was missing.

Source:

X呆気ないX >思ったより内容が貧弱または単純で、おもしろみがない。期待外れでもの足りない。 「―・い結末」 <--looks like it's used for results, so it's perfect for this question.

物足りない >何か足りないようで不満である。どことなく不足である。ものたらない。

Just discovered this site. Seems very interesting. I'm preparing for the test myself, so I need as many resources as possible. Just one thing... what's with all the furigana? It's really hard to read and, in my opinion, hinders learning. And again, it's really, really hard to read....

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you can turn the furigana off. Just click the options link at the bottom of the page and you can adjust the settings. –  istrasci Nov 24 '11 at 5:00
    
Thanks. I didn't notice that. –  Scooter GG Nov 24 '11 at 14:53

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