I have a question about the meaning of という訳でもないのだが in the following passage. If I'm understanding correctly

「いたからと言ってなんだ」 - 「居たからと言って何だ」

would translate to something like

"even if he/she was, then what".

However, I can't quite understand the whole sentence:

"Well, it's not that, (even if she was there, then what)." - fast translation.







Context: The MC seems a strange girl. And now he's asking his friends if they have seen here before.

3 Answers 3

  • "~という訳ではない" is a common set phrase which corresponds to "That is not to say ~" or "That doesn't mean ~", referring to what was already stated. Using でない instead of ではない adds "not in particular" or "not really" feelings to the sentence.

  • There is another common set phrase "だから何だ?" (or "だからどうした?"), which means "so what?" It actually implies something negative -- "that's not important", "It doesn't matter", or "I don't care".

These by themselves are easy to you, aren't they?

In the sentence in question, I think you got the last half right. But maybe you read the first half of the sentence using the above knowledge, like "so what? she is not important". That would result in something like "That's not to say she is not important," or "she does matter to me," which did not match the context. (Of course, the guy who said this (twice) is actually very curious about the mysterious girl. But in that sentence, he is trying to deceive himself, saying he's not interested.)

If that's the case with you, let's stop interpreting this なんだ part as "so what?" This なんだ is not negative by itself, but should be interpreted as "it somehow matters" or "it's of some importance". The whole sentence can be understood as "That is not to say {if she was there, then it somehow matters to me}". Or to put it plainly, "I don't really care if she was there".

There are similar idioms, 「どうということはない」「どうという訳ではない」「なんということはない」「なんのことはない」, etc, all of which mean "nothing special", "doesn't matter", "it's a piece of cake", etc.


「(Situation or event) + (だ)から + 言ってなんだ(、) + いうわけ + では/でも/じゃ + ない」

In short, this is a set phrase to make things vague. It being a set phrase is the important point because it will enable the listener or reader to know automatically that the speaker or writer is being purposely vague about something.

Because it is a phrase to make things vague, it can be difficult to translate it naturally into a language (or culture) where vagueness is not regarded as virtue --- or at least not as much as it is in the Japanese culture.

Notice the two quotative 「と's」. That would already be a good sign of "vagueness", wouldn't it? No one actually has said or heard anything regarding the fact that the girl was there. Nor the speaker is about to make a meaningful comment on that fact.

The speaker basically has nothing concrete to say here, which is why 「なんだ」 is being used instead of a meaningful phrase or even one "real" adjective. He is at a loss of words.

If you absolutely need a translation, you could use:

"It is not that I want to make a (particular) statement (about the situation)."

"It is not that a discussion is in order (about the situation)."

"(She was there.) Not that it is important."

Point is, no matter how you translate it, you will not be able to translate it back to the original Japanese phrase in question. That is the limitation of a translation method in foreign language studies.

  • I think there are phrases like that in English, too (although they might not be as virtuous as in Japanese): How about "I'm just saying [she was there], not that that's important or anything." for the last translation?
    – Earthliŋ
    Feb 12, 2015 at 11:29

Edited per the further info from Mr.Naruto.

Hmmmm....quite interesting. Let me answer, will you.

・・・・・・・それにしても、あの少女のことは綾奈も知らないのか。 先程はうまく説明できなかったが、目立つ、というより、不思議な感じがした。 まあ、いたからと言ってなんだ、という訳でもないのだが。 ・・・・・・。 ちょっと後で後輩のやつにもメールで聞いてみるか。 ・・・・・・本当に、いたからと言ってなんだ、というわけじゃ、ないだけどな。

Since there are no sentences before and after this, ( if you can post them, please do it so for further information. )

My translation will be like this ( I am sorry if I make some English mistake ( which means, if it sounds unnatural to you )

Hmmmm, well then even Naya does not know about the girl. When I spoke with you, I was not able to explain anything well about the girl, to me, she seemed to have had kind of a surreal look, not striking impression as you might say. However that doesn't make me inquire about her furthermore ・・・・・ I will try to ask my subordinate ( junior? ) later by e-mail, but please notice it is not because the girl was up there and left some impact on me.

And regarding your question,

I have a question about the meaning of という訳でもないのだが in the following passage. If I'm understanding correctly 「いたからと言ってなんだ」 - 「居たからと言って何だ」 would translates something like - "even if he/she was, than what", however I can't quiet understand the whole sentence.

I think your understanding is, in the end, correct, "even if she was there, "then" what" seems to fit with this context. The "speaker" does not care, or although he might actually care, he is speaking to his friend that the girl's presence was not important at all.

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