I have the sentence in my book: 昔は、若い女性が男性と二人で出かけようものなら、町中のうわさになったものだ。

I was wondering if this means that it is possible to modify nouns with the volitional form. I have so far heard that it isn't, which makes this grammar point confusing. Could someone give me an explanation as to how to understand ~ようものなら in the above sentence? Is it like, "If women WISHED to go out with men..."? Or does the volitional have some other interpretation here?

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    Interesting question. Some other cases of noun-modifying volitionals: google.co.jp/… – dainichi Nov 6 '13 at 6:14
  • Who told you it modified a noun in that sentence? Read my answer. – l'électeur Nov 6 '13 at 7:43
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    @TokyoNagoya, I know the question is not stated that way, but given that the etymology of ものなら involves a formal noun もの, I think it's a fair question to ask whether volitionals modifying nouns have ever been productive, and under what circumstances. – dainichi Nov 6 '13 at 14:40
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    @dainichi There is also the expression 成【な】ろう事【こと】なら which supports the idea of some level of past productivity of volitionals modifying nouns. – rintaun Nov 7 '13 at 3:34
  • @rintaun, ah yes, good find! I'm definitely drawing a mental parallel to subjunctive/conjunctive/irrealis moods in IE languages, which also tend to serve volitional purposes. – dainichi Nov 7 '13 at 4:38

Again, ものなら is one word. It is a conjunctive particle that has the same meaning as ~~としたら = "if one were to try ~~ing".

"In the old days, if a young woman were to try going out with a man just the two of them, it would be the talk of the town."

SVP DO NOT take my English TL too literally; English is my worst language.

  • I presumed もの was a noun and なら was a particle... But if I am to think of it as a particle and a whole... I guess that might work too! Your English is great don't worry about it. Thankyou for your help! – Nathan Nov 6 '13 at 8:22
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    English is my worst language >> Lol you're being sarcastic right? – user1016 Nov 6 '13 at 13:19
  • What about your French or Chinese then!? – user1016 Nov 6 '13 at 13:31
  • For what it's worth, @TokyoNagoya didn't claim to have poor English; just that it's the worst of all the languages (s)he knows. – istrasci Nov 6 '13 at 15:38
  • @istrasci え、そういう意味なの? – user1016 Nov 6 '13 at 15:56

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