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Consider:

  1. 自分について書きたいことがあります。 = There are times that I want to write about myself (lit: things concerning me)

  2. 自分自身について書きたいことがあります。

What is their difference?

I think the second sentence has more emphasis on "myself". If so, is this emphasis too subtle to translate effectively into English?

Also, is there any change in formality or colloquial nuance?

When translating into English, would the best option in the second sentence be to just put "about myself" into italics? This seems unnatural.

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Asking the difference between the Japanese sentences makes sense, but asking the difference between the English translation, while you only show one of them, does not make sense. Even if you show both English translations, it still does not make sense. Are you asking about Japanese or about English? –  user458 Nov 29 '11 at 14:36
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(1) I am not sure what you want to ask. Are you asking how 自分について書きたい事 and 自分自身について書きたい事 are different? (2) Anyway, 自分について書きたい事 and 自分自身について書きたい事 are both noun phrases while your English translation is a sentence, and therefore I guess that some words or context is missing. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 29 '11 at 19:16
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As I wrote, neither 自分について書きたい事 nor 自分自身について書きたい事 is a sentence (grammatical or not). –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 29 '11 at 21:33
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by “grammatically correct” I mean correct according to the established rules of japanese grammar.I assume, perhaps wrongly, that there are established rules of japanese grammar.I askeda japanese friend how to say "I'd like to write about myself." and she gave me the 1st sentence. After I posted my essay online someone suggested to me the 2nd sentence, but could not explain the difference in nuance between the two. If you are inspired to offer a third suggestion I would be grateful, though I fear you would be hesitant/loathe to do so. –  yadokari Nov 30 '11 at 0:15
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I am confused. I'm not sure what exactly is being focused on. Perhaps if the question was put forth more simply as just "What is the difference between 自分 and 自分自身". And as a separate note, I don't think ~ことがある is behaving how you expect it to behave. –  Flaw Nov 30 '11 at 7:36

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

(1) about the difference in meaning between 「自分について書きたいことがあります。」and 「自分自身について書きたいことがあります。」.

According to the dictionaries 大辞泉 and 広辞苑 「自分自身」 emphasizes 「自分」.

Martin (p. 1050) translates both watakushi jishin and watakushi jibun as "I myself" and translates watakushi jibun jishin as "I myself (in person)..."; "I my very own self" - which are ways to emphasize "myself" without the use of italics (but it would depend on the context if a phrase like "in person" can be used in an actual translation).

None of these sources write anything about shifting emphasis elsewhere in a sentence that might contain jibun jishin (and surely Martin would have mentioned that if it were the case).

(2) a translation of 「自分について書きたいことがあります。」 would look something like "There are things about myself (that) I want to write about.". The variant 「自分自身について書きたいことがあります。」 puts emphasis on "myself" therefore in a translation one could use italics, or use a different phrase, or leave out the emphasis, all depending on the context. For instance: "There are things about myself I want to write about." "There are things about my own person I want to write about.".

References:
自分自身 in Yahoo! JAPAN-Yahoo!辞書 / 大辞泉
広辞苑 (1992)
Samual E. Martin (1987 [1975]) A reference grammar of Japanese

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thank you. "There are things about myself (that) I want to write about.". this is how i would translate that sentence as well. my translation was edited to read There are times that I want to write about myself (lit: things concerning me) I don't think こと here has to be concerned with "time". what do you think? –  yadokari Dec 11 '11 at 23:12
    
@yadokari you can read up on these sentence patterns: Verb(plain)+ことがある, Verb(past)+ことがある, i-adj+ことがある. –  Flaw Dec 12 '11 at 0:32
    
I'm thinking that if it was 書きたくなることがあります it might mean "there are times I want to write things" but that 書きたいことがあります might mean "there are things I want to write". This might be a good question to ask separately. –  cypher Dec 12 '11 at 1:35
    
@cypher yes please do. –  Flaw Dec 12 '11 at 2:00
    
@cypher yes have some –  yadokari Dec 12 '11 at 6:10

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