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i understand what mata normally means but, it doesn't seem to work in this sentence.

please & thank you.

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Just in case, this は is pronounced as “wa,” not “ha.” – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 23 '12 at 0:32
And what does it normally means? You might indeed be wrong about what it means… – Axioplase Sep 24 '12 at 2:15

It means or. It is written as 又は.

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Since Teno has answered the main question. To supplement:

Looking at different parts of the sentence:

  • みぎ、ひだりまたはまっすぐ - right, left or straight ahead
  • 車は行く。 - the car goes
  • 車は行ってもいいです。 - The car may go.
  • 車はみぎ、ひだりまたはまっすぐ行ってもいいです。 - The car may go right or left or straight.
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What did I parse wrong? – Flaw Sep 22 '12 at 16:29
I think your translation is pretty much correct, but I don't think ~てもいい can be interpreted as "even if", I think it's more like "may" as in "cars may go right, left or straight ahead" giving permission. (I wasn't the one who downvoted your answer BTW) – cypher Sep 22 '12 at 16:57
Is that は pronounced "wa"? – Ataraxia Sep 22 '12 at 18:24
@phoenixheart6 yes. – Flaw Sep 23 '12 at 2:51
@cypher Thank you for verifying. I shall correct it. I included "even if" in parenthesis because I thought that it was a more literal one-to-one mapping. I thought the "even if" mechanism of も leads to the "permission" sense of the phrase. – Flaw Sep 23 '12 at 2:53

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