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I translated this sentence as "It's not like I don't know that I'm stupid," while my friend who wrote it translated it as "I'm stupid, but I know that." So I feel I understand the meaning adequately, but on closer inspection, I am confused by だからって. Is it two words, だから and って, or one word, or a set phrase?

WJD provides this definition: だからって (exp) even so; all the same; nevertheless; yes, but ...

So I suppose a better translation would be, "I'm stupid, but it's not like I don't know it," where だからって is equivalent to "but." However, does it mean more than "but" here? Is it also acting as a copula? What is the etymology of this expression and, if it is made up of two words, how do they act upon each other?

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A adapted translation would be: I might be stupid but it doesn't mean that I don't know it. – oldergod Feb 14 '12 at 0:08

The って in からって is the quotative って, and there is a longer version which makes this clearer, から 言って. These are interchangeable in all cases that I can think of. For some reason って is used in the short version, and と is common in the long version.

The below sentence might make it clearer how to understand/parse the phrase:

馬鹿だから 知らないだろう」って 言っても、 知らないわけじゃない You might say that I won't know because I'm stupid, but it's not the case (that I don't know).

Note the the object of knowing could be any fact, not necessarily the fact that "I'm stupid"

The phrase means something like "It might be the case that ... , but ... ".

Some other usages:

暑{あつ}いからと言って[裸]{はだか}になるな It might be hot, but don't get naked.

お客{きゃく}だからって態度{たいど}が悪{わる}すぎる He might be a guest, but his attitude is still too shitty.

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The first sentence is confusing to me, because って at the end of からと言って has nothing to do with って in だからって. – Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 14 '12 at 2:24
@TsuyoshiIto Good point, added some explanation. Also thanks for helping with formatting/typo – dainichi Feb 14 '12 at 2:30
would it be correct to translate this like so? 暑あつ いからと言って 裸はだか になるな Just because you say it's hot, don't get naked. (or more naturally, and adding some meaning at the end) Just because you say it's hot, that doesn't mean that you should get naked. – yadokari Feb 14 '12 at 2:45
@yadokari Yes, those probably sound more natural than my translations. I hesitated to use them because I'm not sure if they're correct ways of using 'because', strictly speaking. – dainichi Feb 14 '12 at 3:16

Indeed is the copula. And から means 'from'. In many languages, the word that corresponds to 'from' is often used as 'because'. って is contraction of といって, which originally meant 'saying', but has lost that meaning.

'It is not the case that I don't know it because (they say) I am stupid.'

And in this construction, P から 'because P' introduces a presupposition that P is true. That is why you can also translated it as:

'I know it even though (they say) I am stupid.'

Both you and your friend's translations are not correct. If you want to say something along the translation you give, then it has to be like:

'It is not the case that I do not know that I am stupid.'

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Thank you. However, I was also asking how the だから works with the って, and which って was being used here. In your translation, what the speaker does not know necessitates their stupidity. It's my impression that the speaker is saying that "it is not the case that they do not know that they are stupid." So to rearrange your translation, my understanding of it would be "It is not the case that I do not know that I am stupid." Is this correct? sorry for getting confusing. Also, do you find my final translation flawed?("I'm stupid, but it's not like I don't know it.") – yadokari Feb 13 '12 at 22:31
@yadokari Your translation is wrong. In order to express that, you have to use ということを instead. – user458 Feb 13 '12 at 22:37
I am having trouble understanding your english translations. What do you think of this?: "Even though they say I am stupid, it's not like I don't know (it)." And in this case "(it)" is not "the fact that I am stupid, " it is some other fact? {ie, perhaps "(it)" would be an answer to a test, a theme to a book, some random info, etc?} – yadokari Feb 13 '12 at 22:56
When someone says “馬鹿だからって知らないわけじゃない,” the speaker admits that he/she is fool, but he/she claims that he/she knows it (whatever “it” refers to). So your second English translation is incorrect, or at least completely different from how I interpret the Japanese sentence. – Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 13 '12 at 23:08
@TsuyoshiIto Thank you. That was mistake. I didn't intend it. – user458 Feb 13 '12 at 23:14

The most idiomatic way to say it in English while avoiding the troublesome "but" would be

Just because I'm stupid that doesn't mean I don't know.

In fact I think the whole expression should be taken as だからって…ない with the negation being crucial (though sometimes implied*), and corresponds exactly to the English expression "Just because … doesn't mean … ". It expresses that "Your assertion that A is a sufficient reason for B is not valid".

If you look at だからって as だから (because) (so) いって (saying), you can understand it as "saying it is so because". The ない then negates that assertion of causality: "Your saying that B is so because of A is not valid.", or "Just because of A (which is what you say) is not a valid reason for B.", which is equivalent to the English expression.

As sawa writes above, even in Japanese the meaning of って as "you say" is somewhat extraneous. I think it more easily becomes extraneous when expressed in English.

So your original sentence says that your being stupid is not a sufficient reason for (one's assumption of) your not knowing [some fact].

A asserts: You are stupid, therefore you don't know that fact.
B: That's not so. While I am indeed stupid, I do know that fact. 
   Therefore my being stupid does not imply that I do not know the fact. 


Just because I am stupid does not mean I do not know the fact.
  • In dainichi's example お客だからって態度が悪すぎる I find the negative in the すぎる where "excessive" implies "not appropriate"; "his attitude is too shitty" is the same as "his attitude should not be so shitty". Though I may be reaching here.
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in your translation, there is no "they say". Would suggest that that part of the meaning is irrelevant or extraneous in this example? Perhaps we need to know to know the context of the convo to really understand – yadokari Feb 14 '12 at 15:29

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