What does the phrase 「あえて言{い}えば」 mean? What are a few example sentences?

Is the following usage correct:
「好きな日本料理{にほんりょうり}はあんまりないが、あえて言えば 納豆{なっとう}ですね。」

"I don't really like Japanese food, but if I had to mention something I would say natto."

  • Sounds good to me. – istrasci Jan 30 '15 at 17:53
  • I will be honest. I am a Japanese speaker but I do not understand what your "Japanese" sentence means. Are you saying that you do or you do not like natto? – l'électeur Feb 3 '15 at 2:03
  • @l'électeur I am trying to say: "Well, I do not really like any type of Japanese food. However, if I were forced to say something, then I guess I'd say natto." – user312440 Feb 10 '15 at 1:47
  • See also: [強いて]{しいて}言えば – oals Feb 23 '15 at 8:15

「あえて言えば」is often used to mean a kind of weak opinions. Your sentence looks totally natural to native speakers (including me).

I'll list some example sentences:

  • あなたの提案で概ね問題ないが、あえて言えば予算が気になる。(Your proposal looks good as a whole, but I have little worry about its cost.)
  • あえて言うほどでもありませんが、家に帰ったら手は洗った方がいい。 (This may be a needless concern, but I think you should wash your hands when you go back home.)
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  • I'm curious that if 「あえて言う」= "to say something that's needless (to say)", how can 「あえて言うほどでもない」 mean "this may be a needless concern" but not the opposite? – null Feb 1 '15 at 12:32

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