Here is the sentence from ドラゴンボール, :


(the Cell Game is a martials arts tournament for those who don't know the manga)

I'm not sure of what the first の means here :

Is it the の equivalent to が in subordinate clauses? But then I don't really get why 注目 would be used :

The Cell Game, on which the (attention of the) entire world stakes the future of the earth, is about to begin.

My guess is it's the same の as in :

兄のジョンだ。 This is John, my brother.

Then a translation would be :

The Cell game, center of the entire world's attention, and on which we bet the destiny of the earth, is about to begin.

Or is it something else?

Thanks for your time.


3 Answers 3


There's something interesting going on here. The の in 注目の選手 can be easily explained as a standard の used to string nouns together, like "of" in "the player of attention".

However, in 全世界注目の選手, it gets harder to defend this standpoint. 全世界注目 is not really one word, it occurs almost exclusively with の after it (Google gave me very few examples with を and が, and they seem a bit strange, at least to me). Also, the intonation, 全世↓界注目の, not 全世界ちゅ↓うもく, hints that we're not talking about a compound noun here.

It seems more natural to treat this as a relative clause, i.e. 全世界注目の選手 = 全世界が注目する選手. This is a productive pattern, e.g. 大統領推薦の○○ = 大統領が推薦する○○, although it seems restricted to formal contexts. There's also a parallel without a Sino-japanese する-verb, e.g. 大統領率いる社会党, but here the only surface difference is the missing subject marker.

It seems obvious that this syntax could come from Chinese/kanbun influence, e.g. Mandarin 全世界注目的公司, but others would probably be better at filling in the details. Also if anybody has better examples, feel free to comment or edit.

  • Thinking of it as 前世界が注目する (or して) helps a lot thanks. I'm gonnat wait a bit to see if anyone can confirm both are kind of equivalent.
    – Alox
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 10:28
  • 1
    See Word formation in a modular theory of grammar: postsyntactic compounds in Japanese (Shibatani & Kageyama 1988). It describes not only using verbal nouns with の, but also dropping case markers on their arguments and the intonation on the resulting phrase. (I wouldn't have found this paper without your answer, so thank you! :-)
    – user1478
    Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 22:53
  • @snailboat, great find, thanks! It's nice to see that some of the theories that I pull out of my wazoo as a mere hobby linguist aren't completely off. (Although I guess the conclusion is that these compounds are, in a way, words after all)
    – dainichi
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 0:45

I think you can parse it this way:

全世界注目の [ [地球の運命を賭けた] セルゲーム ]

The first phrase, 全世界注目の〜, means the whole world's attention is on something—see Weblio for more examples of 注目の. I think the key to understanding this is that it relates to the following head noun セルゲーム and not to 地球.

The second phrase, 地球の運命を賭けた, I think you understand already. I don't think the earlier phrase is acting as a subject here.

  • So, do you think of 注目の as one entity meaning "which is the center of attention" or "the attention is on..." or is it a usual function of の meaning "which is"? Because I still don't get how let's say 皆の注目の試合 can mean "The match which is the attention of everybody..." I would get how 皆の注目である試合 could mean that, but someone pointed out it was incorrect....
    – Alox
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 10:18
  • in 注目の試合, 注目 modifies 試合. when you have の, there are many many ways in which the first noun can modify the second noun, and you need to use context to choose the most appropriate interpretation. if you simply think of 注目の試合 as meaning "the match of attention", it's pretty obvious how "attention" is modifying "match"; it means "the match which everybody's attention is on".
    – Axe
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 15:01

Your intuition is correct in that this の is the same as the の in 兄の佐藤.

Similarly to the explanation in the similar question How does the の work in 「日本人の知らない日本語」? 全世界注目の is a relative clause that is modifying the noun セルゲーム.

A pretty good example of this rule is here: http://www.japaneseprofessor.com/lessons/beginning/modifying-particle-no/

The relevant part is:

まほうの とびら mahou no tobira a magical door

Mahou (magic) is a noun, but it's being used like the adjective magical, which doesn't exist in Japanese. And while "mahou no hon" could be "a book of magic" (filled with spells) or "a magic book" (itself enchanted), the "of" interpretation for no does not exist in every case. So while "of" is a possible translation of no, it's not always the best translation.

  • Paragraph #3 is inaccurate. We would never say either 全世界注目である or 全世界注目な.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 21:54
  • I removed the section that was "inaccurate." However, it would be more helpful to indicate why it's incorrect than just saying "we would never say either." In fact there are plenty of uses of 注目な on the internet and specifically one site that uses the exact same phrase 全世界注目な (d.hatena.ne.jp/sabaori2/20081207/1228675322) so obviously your use of never is inaccurate. I don't think my answer deserved a down vote for one section in any case when the overall answer is to the point.
    – SheepMan
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 14:37

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