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This is from the second episode of Noir. The two women are sitting quietly eating dinner. One of the women says to the other: ちょっとは美味しそうに食べたらどう?

For the life of me, I can't parse this sentence into something understandable in English. Here are my issues:

  1. How is ちょっと the topic (or is it subject) of the sentence? What is its meaning here?

  2. 食べたら from what I know is "When you eat", but I don't know how to quite translate it with 美味しそうに.

  3. The whole phrase is in front of どう so it is some type of relative or dependent clause. So is the beginning of that sentence, "How about (that) when you eat ...."? This is my guess. I'm not sure if I'm correct though.

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I think it means "Just for a while, how about we pretend that it's delicious?" –  Flaw Jun 27 '12 at 14:57
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@Flaw ちょっと here does not mean "just for a while". It means "(even) to the slightest extent". And そう does not necessarily mean that it is fake. It may be real. So "pretend" is not an accurate translation. –  sawa Jun 27 '12 at 16:17
    
@sawa. I thought that if you had to tell someone to eat so that it looked delicious, chances are that it is in fact not delicious. –  Flaw Jun 27 '12 at 16:21
    
@Flaw As I wrote, that is wrong. It may or may not be delicious. If, in English, you say "It looks delicious", does that mean it is actually not? I don't think so. It may or may not be. –  sawa Jun 27 '12 at 16:23
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@Flaw As a naturalized translation, I would suggest "How about you look like you're enjoying it a little?". The intent is expressing displeasure at the other's lack of appreciation. –  Hyperworm Jun 27 '12 at 16:26
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2 Answers 2

  1. は is expressing the contrastive topic "even to the slightest extent" as contrasted to "to the normal extent/fully".
  2. This is a rhetorical question. It is syntactically a question, but the intent is a suggestion.
  3. You are on the right track. The preceding clause is a conditional clause.

'How about if you eat it in such a way even to the slightest extent (if not fully) to make it look delicious?'

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Could you explain 1. a bit differently? I've never heard of ちょっと or は used/defined in this way. In short, how could ちょっと be "normal extent/fully"? –  dotnetN00b Jun 27 '12 at 17:38
    
@dotnetN00b I didn't write that ちょっと is "normal extent/fully". I wrote that it is "(even) to the slight extent". Please read it carefully. –  sawa Jun 27 '12 at 17:42
    
I know that. You made it sound like ちょっと could mean "normal extent/fully" if は was not used contrastingly. –  dotnetN00b Jun 27 '12 at 17:54
    
@sawa your second sentence sounds like a command. here is my attempt to make your second sentence a little more understandable-"How about you eat it in such a way that it looks at least a little delicious?"/"How about you eat it so that it looks at least a little delicious?" (I am translating the どう as "how about") –  yadokari Jun 27 '12 at 18:23
    
@yadokari ちょっと is not saying how less delicious it is. It is saying how little of an attitute the person should show (at the minimum). For you suggestion about "how about", that will be good. –  sawa Jun 28 '12 at 1:35
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Ok. So after some searching and accidental googling, I think I've figured it out.

<verb> + たらどう(ですか)? Means "why don't you <verb>". It indicates a suggestion. It can also be used to express a negative connotation when the speaker is dissatisfied with how the listener is performing (or not performing) the .

美味しそうに - an <i-adjective> + そう = "seems/looks like <i-adjective>". そう could also be translated as "as if" instead of "seems" or "looks" if the translation requires it.

ちょっとは - has already been explained above.

So the sentence means (as others have pointed out):

Why don't you eat as if the food is delicious, just a little?

or

Why don't you eat, just a little bit, as if it's delicious?

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it's a weird sentence. it kinda reminds me of something a mom would say to a child who acts like he doesn't like her cooking. does the meaning we figured out in the end make sense with the context? –  yadokari Jun 29 '12 at 16:51
    
Yeah, it does. The translations above capture what was going in that scene I mentioned. Actually the Woman A is actually complaining to Woman B in the show. So mom to child interaction is not too far off anyway, lol. –  dotnetN00b Jun 29 '12 at 19:07
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