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On the following reddit thread:

http://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/21l6aa/meaning_of_自分も信じてもらえなくなるってことだ/

the following sentence was posted, with a number of people trying to interpret it:

1.人の親切や発言を信じられなくなったらそれは自分も信じてもらえなくなるってことだ

I could not understand the point in question well enough to translate the sentence, but then a native speaker stated that perhaps there was a typo or a "creative use" of Japanese, and offered the following version as a more typical sentence, though different in meaning:

2.人の親切や発言を信じられなくなったら、それは自分も信じられなくなるってことだ

This sentence I was able to attempt to translate as :

A. Once you start losing the ability to believe in other people's words and kindness, you won't be able to believe in yourself.

B. If you get to the point where you lose the ability to believe in other people's words and kindness, you won't be able to believe in yourself.

A translation attempt for the original was the following:

1.人の親切や発言を信じられなくなったらそれは自分も信じてもらえなくなるってことだ

If you become unable to trust in other people's words and kindness, they won't be able to have trust in yours either.

Do you believe the original sentence to be flawed or unnatural? If not, does the translation make sense?

If the first sentence is too unnatural or flawed to bother with translating, then how are the translations for the revised second sentence?

If the original sentence makes sense, can someone explain the use of 信じてもらえなくなる clearly?

Thank you, and apologies for the large number of questions and rambling nature of post.

  • 2
    I myself find no problem with the original sentence -- none. Saying there is a typo and rewriting even to change the meaning, however, IS a problem, especially when that is done so that it might please Japanese-learners. I am saying this here because it looks like you wanted a long answer which I could not come up with. It is difficult to "discuss" something one finds plain good. – l'électeur Mar 30 '14 at 22:59
  • @Tokyo Nagoya, thank you for the comment. If there is no problem with the original sentence, would you be kind enough to give your opinion on if the last translation (or any of them really) are correct / natural? – yadokari Mar 31 '14 at 4:06
  • Those are all "ok" except for 1) the 「ってことだ」 part is not really translated in any of the three though admittedly it is not easy. 2) you used three different ways to translate 「信じられなくなったら」 but among the three, "once you start losing the ability to ~~" seems a bit off. "become unable to" looks best to me. – l'électeur Mar 31 '14 at 9:15
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One could argue that the sentence in question may not be logical, but it is certainly a sentence that follows all the grammatical rules that I can think of. In that sense, it "makes sense" even if some people might not agree with.

On that regard, I don't find your second sentence any better. It is a grammatically correct sentence that contains the same kind of logical leap.

It seems to me that there's a confusion between a discussion about the translation (which belongs to this site) and a discussion about whether the sentence is right (which is more of a moral question that has nothing to do with the language it's written in.)

I think the meaning of 信じてもらえなくなる is clear enough. Your translation looks OK, though I'd be tempted to translate it to something bit more axiomatic, like perhaps this:

Those who cannot trust the words and kindness of others will lose their trust in return
  • sorry if there was any confusion; I had no interest as to the moral nature of the sentence, and was only concerned with its meaning and translation. thank you. – yadokari Apr 1 '14 at 21:03
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To throw a couple of other similar constructions out there:

I remember that the phrase ”どうにもならなくなる” had me flummoxed for a while.

Also, when I asked an acquaintance in his mid-30s why he wasn't married yet, and he responded that "もらわれてくれる人がいない", my head exploded on the spot.

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