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I was reading the examples from the book 日本語文型辞典 and I came across this example sentence which I have absolutely no idea of how to parse it:

その子は、人と目が合うたびにやさしく笑いかけるような、そんな、人を疑うということを知らないような子だったと言う。

Is the first ような (笑いかけるような) modifying 子, as well as the second? And what is this そんな doing between commas?

Thanks!

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  • そんな is a contraction of そのような, so I think it's just repetitively summing up the whole clause (人と...笑いかけるような) before it.
    – istrasci
    Oct 2, 2013 at 23:02
  • what happened to snailboat's answer? Oct 3, 2013 at 1:44
  • @RodrigoPará: He deleted it.
    – Questioner
    Oct 3, 2013 at 5:03
  • why, exactly? It was a good answer. Oct 3, 2013 at 5:24
  • I thought it didn't fully answer the question (because it didn't really explain そんな), and I thought people would be more likely to answer if it said 0 answers. Maybe I can undelete it now, though :-) (P.S., I'm not a he!)
    – user1478
    Oct 3, 2013 at 8:52

2 Answers 2

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It looks to me like two parallel phrases have been coordinated:

Relative clause A = 人と目が合うたびにやさしく笑いかけるような
Relative clause B = そんな、人を疑うということを知らないような

Both relative clauses end with ようだ, conjugated to ような because they're attributive modifiers. (An attributive modifier is one that comes before the word it modifies.) In other words, they're being put together like a pair of adjectives. I think you can parse it like this:

その子は、( Aな Bな )子だったと言う。

Where both Aな and Bな modify 子.

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  • 1
    (1) I don't think そんな is modifying 人, but I'm not sure whether to say it's modifying 子. It probably is, but it's linked very closely to "relative clause B", maybe more than it is to the actual final noun "子". It's like the speaker uses そんな (and then pauses for a bit indicated by the comma) to describe that he's trying to find the best words to use for relative clause B.
    – Hyperworm
    Oct 2, 2013 at 14:41
  • (2) a comma can come between a modifier and its head ... can it? >_< Do you have any other examples? I am aware of plenty of "unintuitive" comma placement in Japanese but I can't remember such an example. Ordinarily a comma indicates that the immediately following noun is not the head but another modifier. (Assuming I understand the term "head" correctly ... here as referring to 子.) ------- (Other than that pick about そんな, I agree with your thoughts on the structure of the sentence.)
    – Hyperworm
    Oct 2, 2013 at 14:42
  • @Hyperworm You know, I could've sworn I had lots of examples, but when I looked through my notes (or at the one example I remembered on the site, here) I only found examples where the head noun came later. So I think you're right and I was just confused. Thanks for pointing that out! I removed that part of the answer, so I should probably try to elaborate a little about what そんな does, but now I'm not feeling sure enough to do so :-(
    – user1478
    Oct 2, 2013 at 15:12
  • Lol ok I'm still waiting for the explanation about the そんな =( Oct 2, 2013 at 22:10
  • Okay, I undeleted this answer because you got an explanation about そんな from @ssb's answer.
    – user1478
    Oct 6, 2013 at 10:04
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This is almost certainly meant to be a representation of spoken Japanese. The person is speaking and describing this kind of person. First the speaker offers "笑いかけるような," but deciding that isn't enough, simply interjects a そんな to be kind of like, "you know", in English. So it's like, you know, that kind of pattern where like.. you're describing something but, like, in the middle it's punctuated with these.. you know.. verbal cues that indicate thought about how to expound upon the subject.

笑いかけるような is modifying 子. So is 人を疑うということを知らないような, obviously. The そんな I guess is technically also modifying 子; essentially the three are aiming to be the same thing, both in meaning and therefore in grammatical role. What kind of 子? そんな子. そんな子ってどんな子?人を疑うということを知らないような子。笑いかけるような子。

そうなんだ。

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  • I figured it was a representation of spoken Japanese, I just wanted to make sure if it also had another interpretation. Thanks for your answer! Oct 3, 2013 at 1:50
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    No problem. No intention of sounding condescending or anything, though! I generally add excess explanations for those who might be reading the question but aren't aware of these things.
    – ssb
    Oct 3, 2013 at 2:36

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