Google Translate translates 「忘{わす}れたい女」 as "Woman you want to forget".

But it translates 「忘れたい人」 as "People who want to forget".

Is that a correct translation? If so, why is that?

Should it be "People you want to forget"?

  • 3
    Since GT uses statistical machine translation, the "why" is presumably to do with how phrases containing 忘れたい女 and 忘れたい人 are translated in the input corpus - any quirks of GT are much more to do with their algorithm and what gets put into it than they are to do with the actual Japanese language.
    – nkjt
    Oct 29 '13 at 11:12

It is "correct" because 忘れたい人 can mean two different things in Japanese even though Google Translate gave you only one. Which one it actually means in a given situation solely depends on the context.

There are phrases that we can use if we absolutely must avoid any ambiguity even WITHOUT any context, but those can sound kind of wordy to our own native-speaking ears so we usually use the shorter forms just as your examples. In real life, after all, there is always context. The non-ambiguous forms are:

忘れたい人 = the person(s) that I want to forget

(or 私のこと)忘れたい人 = the person(s) that want(s) to forget me

As always, it is the particle that matters.

  • so.. can 忘れたい女 also mean "Woman who want to forget"?? Oct 29 '13 at 5:44
  • @DrStrangeLove Yes. If preceded by <object>を as the object that she wants to forget. 私を忘れたい女 means "the woman who wants to forget me" since 'wants to forget me' is modifying woman.
    – jmac
    Oct 29 '13 at 6:12

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