From the second episode of Death Note:


  1. Is this sentence parsed as one sentence (as above), or two:



  1. If it's one sentence, it seems there's a double が. How to make sense of this?

    • It doesn't seem like there's left-node or right-node branching happening?
    • Is (100人以上が) acting as the subject of the sentence, while (心臓麻痺なんて偶然があるか) is acting as a subordinate clause that is somehow acting as the whole sentence's predicate?
  2. I know that particles are colloquially dropped all the time in Japanese, but the floating 心臓麻痺なんて is a bit confusing. I assume here this stands for 心臓麻痺など (or perhaps 心臓麻痺などとて?). Is the whole phrase functioning adverbially (so doesn't need a particle)? Or is there an implicit だ/な (copula) or は (topic market) being omitted after なんて?

EDIT: After writing this all out, I realize an alternative way to parse the sentence is as


with the な being colloquially dropped, and (100人以上が心臓麻痺なんて) modifying 偶然. Is this the correct way to parse it?

3 Answers 3


This is one sentence. 100人以上が心臓麻痺なんて modifies 偶然, and なんて here can be replaced with などという.

P.S. Interestingly, なんてな is an existing expression and also makes sense here, but it's not なんて + な (aux verb, particle or na-adjective ending) but is possibly contraction of などというような. cf. https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/%E3%81%A6%E3%81%AA/

  • If なんて is short for などという, is it fair to say the sentence 「100人以上が心臓麻痺などという偶然があるか?」 is then itself short for 「100人以上が心臓麻痺 などで亡くなったという 」?
    – George
    Oct 8, 2023 at 4:40
  • Well, you can interpret 「100人以上が心臓麻痺などという偶然」as 「100人以上が心臓麻痺だなどという偶然」or as 「100人以上が心臓麻痺で亡くなったなどという偶然」if adding words based on the context. など here does not imply other causes of death but, in fact, you can take this as just an indirect variation of という parallel to "coincidence that..." and "coincidence like..."
    – rk03
    Oct 8, 2023 at 5:10

If I remember the context of this correctly, this is someone thinking about what just happened. They're essentially saying/thinking, "Over a hundred people [died] from a heart attack. What kind of a coincidence [do we have here]?"

なんて here is a contraction of "なんという"

What's omitted is で死んだ



This なんて is a quotative particle(?) that can be used in place of と or という. So you have to parse the part before なんて as if it's inside quotation marks. While と and という must be strictly distinguished, you can drop いう when you use なんて or って. なんて(いう) has the effect of disbelieving, belittling or dismissing the preceding quoted content. などという has the same effect but sounds more formal.

  • 「できません」言うな。
    Don't say "I can't"!

  • 美女が野獣と結婚するという物語
    a story where a beautiful woman marries a beast

    a story claiming that a beautiful woman marries a beast

  • 「100人以上が心臓麻痺(で死ぬ)」という偶然
    「100人以上が心臓麻痺(で死ぬ)」って(いう)偶然 (informal)
    a coincidence where over 100 people die from heart attack

    「100人以上が心臓麻痺(で死ぬ)」なんて(いう)偶然 (informal)
    a "coincidence" where over 100 people die from heart attack

なんて can be used as an alternative of なんていう, but it's rare.

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