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I was trying to translate this sentence:

僕はアルバイトしてはレコードばかり買っていたから、一日半働けばLP一枚買えるな、と思って働いていた。

I think I get the overall meaning as: Because I spent all my wages on records I went to work thinking "If I work a day and a half I can buy an LP."

But I'm confused by the アルバイトしては

What's going on with the grammar here?

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2 Answers 2

Think of しては as a contraction of して、あとは as in

僕はバイトして、あとはレコードばかり買っていた……

and look over the fact that there are two topic markers in the sentence now.

It then means, that apart from work, all did was buy records.

This construction can be used with other words as well.

僕は食べては、寝ていただけです。

Apart from eating, all I did was sleep.

The point is that the second phrase expresses some restricted action, e.g. using だけ, のみ or ばかり (or しか+neg.).

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I think it might be sense 3 of this Daijirin definition, which defines it as …するときはいつも…する, which I think can be defined as "whenever (you) do ..., (you) do ...":

僕はアルバイトしてはレコードばかり買っていたから、一日半働けばLP一枚買えるな、と思って働いていた。
Whenever I was working part-time, I was solely buying records, so I was working thinking that if I work for a day and a half, I can buy an LP.

For example, from Daijisen:

幼い頃は電車を見ては喜んでいた。
When I was young, whenever I saw a train I was delighted.

I think this is distinct from another similar usage of ~ては (sense 4 at Daijirin), which is defined as two actions etc which make a pair and are repeated, for example:

ころんでは起き、ころんでは起きて…
(I) alternate between falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up...

Edit: Reverted the definition to an earlier version based on suggestions in the comments.

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I think you have the right definition, but the original sentence feels more like this to me: "Each time that A (which would happen repeatedly), then always B would follow", i.e. "I was constantly buying records every time I did a little (part-time) work". See the entry under くり返し here for another example. –  Hyperworm Sep 1 '12 at 13:20
    
@Hyperworm thanks for the comment - I think you're right, I actually originally wrote "whenever" instead of "alternate between" in the first revision, but I was having trouble finding that usage in Daijisen. It looks to me that Daijisen's sense 3 might include both sense 3+4 from Daijirin. –  cypher Sep 1 '12 at 14:16
    
Sorry, I missed your earlier revisions :) I felt a little uneasy about posting that comment because I couldn't see a better match in Daijisen than (3), either; luckily I came across that weblio/Kenkyusha entry. –  Hyperworm Sep 1 '12 at 14:27

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