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Sorry for the question that will certainly be trivial, but for me Japanese is totally unknown territory. I should translate this sentence into Japanese: "The Girls and the Heron" (it would be a title, so without verbs or anything else).

女の子とサギ

This should be a correct translation, since in Japan you can not indicate the plural right? But this can also be translated as "The Girl and the Heron". How do I signal to readers that it is a plural? Can it be okay like this?

女の子とサギ

Or like this?

女の子三人とサギ

In the latter case, however, the correct translation would be "The Three Girls and the Heron", if I have not misunderstood. I wanted to ask if everything is correct or if I'm doing something wrong. Thanks and sorry!

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  • You generally have it correct, although 達 is normally just written in kana as たち and has a bit broader sense than just pluralization. More to the point, it isn't necessarily natural in Japanese to make the distinction at all. Aug 29, 2023 at 22:42
  • 「少女たちとサギ」(☜子供向けの話なら) とか「少女達と鷺」なんかどうでしょう
    – chocolate
    Aug 29, 2023 at 23:38

1 Answer 1

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in Japan you can not indicate the plural right?

There is no grammatical plural form in Japanese, but of course there is a way to indicate whether the number of something is one or more than one. Please take a look at this great answer: What is the difference in usage between a plural using (a) the kanji repetition character 々, (b) a plural using -たち, and (c) the singular?

In English (and in many other languages), every noun must be marked as singular or plural. In Japanese marking plurality for a noun is not mandatory. This does not mean that Japanese speakers can't convey the idea that a noun is singular or plural if they want to, it only means they don't have to — and indeed in most cases Japanese speakers will not explicitly specify if whether a noun is singular or plural.

Even if there are many girls, something like 少女とサギ is not at all unnatural as the title of a Japanese story. Even in a manga like this, where multiple girls appear as main characters, it's completely normal not to explicitly add a word/affix to specify the plurality.

Therefore, the question here is "Do you really need to indicate there is more than one girl? If you believe that not indicating the plurality will hurt the meaning of your title, perhaps the simplest approach is to add たち or to explicitly state the number like this:

  • 少女たちとサギ
  • 3人の少女とサギ

(Here I used 少女 because it's usually preferred in literary works, but YMMV. See this.)

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  • My fault! I was on my cellphone and hadn't seen it! Thanks again and sorry! Aug 30, 2023 at 8:53

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