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わかってるよ そんなこと・・・・

立場上断れない相手や話を持ってきた人の顔も立てないとだめだもんな・・

How is this sentence divided? I understand the character is saying "I understand something like that."

But I am confused by 話を持ってきた人の顔も立てない. I do know 顔を立て is a verb but then why is the の used here?

He should be saying that "I understand you can't refuse people due to your/their position and people who came to talk to you".

2 Answers 2

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Without context, I would interpret it this way:

断れない modifies 相手.

断れない相手
the people [you] can't reject

立場上 probably modifies 断れない, although we can't completely rule out the possibility of it working on だめだ.

立場上断れない相手
the people [you] can't reject because of [your] position

話を持ってきた modifies 人.

話を持ってきた人
the people who brought [you] the case(s)

立場上断れない相手 and 話を持ってきた人 are connected with や, and the result is linked with 顔 with の.

立場上断れない相手や話を持ってきた人の顔
the faces of the people [you] can't reject because of [your] position and the people who brought [you] the case(s)

顔を立てる is an idiomatic expression that means something like "to save face."

立場上断れない相手や話を持ってきた人の顔を立てないとだめ
[you] need to save the faces of the people [you] can't reject because of [your] position and the people who brought [you] the case(s)

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  • 確かにこの解釈のほうが自然っぽいですね。見逃してました Apr 6 at 4:37
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顔を立てる is an expression in Japanese. From Jisho.org:

Expressions (phrases, clauses, etc.), Ichidan verb

  1. to save face; to show deference; to make someone look good​

(There's an usage example in Goo dictionary)

This sentence is divided this way:

  • 断れない is modifying 相手や話
  • 相手や話 is object to the verb 持ってくる
  • 持ってきた is modifying
  • the character is telling that it is necessary to 顔を立てる
    (please read this answer to understand ないとだめ better)
  • this belongs to the aforementioned

Please note that having a comma after 立場上 does not change meaning:

  • 立場上断れない相手や話を持ってきた人の顔も立てないとだめだもんな
  • 立場上、断れない相手や話を持ってきた人の顔も立てないとだめだもんな
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  • 1
    Adding は does change the meaning, or removes ambiguity. 立場上は would be understood as modifying だめだ.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 5 at 20:02
  • @aguijonazo 実はそこでちょっと引っかかったんですが、何も変わってない気がして答えてました。コメント有難うございます。返答を訂正させていただきました。 Apr 5 at 20:06
  • Oh I see. It seems my reading was wrong. It's about people who may bring him 相手 or 話. I was reading 相手 separately.
    – Kawase_K
    Apr 5 at 21:48
  • @Kawase_K - Well, 相手 are the people.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 5 at 22:21

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