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交換プログラムに選ばれるのが難しいかやさしいかは、大学によって違うが、一般的に言えば、申し込む学生が多ければ多いほど、選ばれるのが難しくなる。

I've checked online but I can't seem to find a proper explanation on how かは is being used here. Individually, I know they mean (か = question marker, は = topic Marker). I've rechecked the source book (An Integrated Approach To Intermediate Japanese) countless times to make sure it wasn't a typo either.

Is it asking a question and marking the whole thing in implied quotes using は? Like how I can say "'Are you there?', asked Bob?"

Or am I completely off in my interpretation?

Edit: It was brought to my attention that I made a mistake. Originally I had 難しいが when instead it should've been 難しいか. Thank you to senshin and BurakUeda for pointing that out.

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    Could you double-check the sentence? Might it be 難しいやさしいかは (that is, 難しい, not 難しい)? If so, then the first part of the sentence means something like "whether it is difficult or easy [to be selected for the 交換プログラム] differs by college". – senshin Dec 18 '14 at 3:57
  • Oh, dear. I went back to the textbook; both you and BurakUeda were right. I did make a typo. I went ahead and corrected my mistake. I also wanted to add that Google Translate also translates かは as ‘whether’ as well, if I remove everything after it. – Korclus Dec 18 '14 at 4:47
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Most likely the original text should be:

交換プログラムに選ばれるのが難しいやさしいかは

which means "whether it is difficult or easy" But somehow か turned into a が. This commonly occurs when I scan documents and convert them with OCR software.

  • It was a typo, just like how you and senshin pointed out. And you were also right in suspecting OCR! I did use OCR to extract the text from my book to save time. The sentence makes more sense now after I applied your correction – Korclus Dec 18 '14 at 5:21

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