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I don't understand how 雲を霞 makes any sense (especially because there's no particle at the end of 霞). Is 雲を霞と supposed to be parsed 雲を霞となる/あり or 雲を霞とする? I think をかすみとする is more likely, and it's supposed to be thought of in English as with an as before the metaphor, although I don't understand and don't know how to translate the とする part. (Comment I made: That's how I thought of it as well, I need a natives opinion as well though. Clouds are opaque but 霞 isn't, so I'm wondering how do you connect that with the subject and is this pattern anywhere else in (the) language to make it justified; also read and didn't understand with https://proverb-encyclopedia.com/kumowokasumito/ (This expression reminds me of all the adverbs from the て forms of transitive verbs)

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    Context, please. No one can tell if your assumption is correct just by looking at these 3 characters without any other context. Please always explain what you are reading and how you came across this expression. As a starter, is this something like a movie title that has to be interpreted on its own? Or is this a part of a long sentence?
    – naruto
    Mar 16 at 21:46
  • I just came across the expression in the dictionary as usual...
    – Star Peep
    Mar 16 at 22:05
  • Do you mean you saw this as a dictionary entry? So you thought again that every native speaker knows this phrase and understands your question?
    – naruto
    Mar 16 at 22:10
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    You saw this one? dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/%E9%9B%B2%E3%82%92%E9%9C%9E%E3%81%A8 It looks like an uncommon set phrase.
    – sundowner
    Mar 16 at 22:55
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    I can't start speculating before understanding what you are talking about. Your way of asking is confusing. Why can't you at least say "I saw this in a dictionary"? I thought you may have picked 3 characters from modern song lyrics without correctly parsing the sentence.
    – naruto
    Mar 16 at 22:58

2 Answers 2

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I think [an implied ending of] する is more likely

I'm not familiar with the idiom, but after thinking about it a bit, this makes more sense than my initial idea. Here, 霞と is adverbial, using quotative-と, and 雲を is simply an object for する. That is: you leave in such a hurry that you make (する) the clouds (雲を) appear to blur or dim (霞と). After all, one gloss that Jisho offers for する is "cause to become" - i.e., similar to なさせる. The と here is doing much the same as に in [静]{しず}かにする, [綺麗]{きれい}にする etc.

I don't know how the metaphor is intended to work, exactly. Perhaps it's about your vision blurring from moving so quickly. More imaginatively, perhaps your movement is stirring the air so as to turn the clouds into a haze....

don't know how to translate the とする part.

This is thinking about it the wrong way. Particles are post-positions, so when you break the sentence up into parts to translate, you should group them with the word before, rather than the word after.

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  • I need a native's opinion as well though. I'm wondering how do you connect the phrase with the subject and is this pattern anywhere else in (the) language to make it justified
    – Star Peep
    Mar 16 at 20:55
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    So, the theory doesn't differ... I'm having a hard time picking whose answer I should accept
    – Star Peep
    Mar 16 at 23:46
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    @StarPeep I wrote my answer just because you said you wanted a native speaker's opinion, so mine is basically redundant.
    – naruto
    Mar 16 at 23:51
  • Thanks for your input!
    – Star Peep
    Mar 16 at 23:52
  • It's a lot like 雲散霧消, although I was hesitant to think so
    – Star Peep
    Mar 17 at 0:04
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If you mean this entry, I haven't recognized this as an idiom. BCCWJ has only 3 examples of 雲を霞, meaning it's very rare, if not completely extinct like これしゃ.

Grammatically, yes I think it's reasonable to understand this along the lines of 雲を霞とする, "regarding 雲 as 霞" or "turning 雲 to 霞". There are similar expressions like 当たるを幸い(と), これ幸いと, etc. It's possible to imagine a situation where a ninja's quick movement causes strong winds and makes a cloud "thin", but this is just imagination.

However, this page says this phrase was originally just 雲霞と. If that's true, the phrase started as a very intuitive expression ("like clouds or haze"), and 雲を霞と was born later as a variation.

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  • Yikes, that's one of the most terrible etymologies evet I've seen in a phrase, this phrase is boring! At least I got to know a much better looking phrase (like 当たるを幸い)
    – Star Peep
    Mar 16 at 23:35

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