6

Is that sentence saying that you will worry, or that you won't worry?

最初からユニコーンを見つけるくらい大変だって知っていれば心配しないじゃないですか

I'm pretty sure it's saying that you will worry, since she said that a unicorn is something you don't find right before this. But even without knowing that can Japanese people grammatically tell that it is "will worry", or is it implied based on context?

Or is it "won't worry" anyway? The double negative is confusing >.<

  • Are you calling it double-negative because you see ない twice? If so, that is not how you should read Japanese. 「じゃない」 is used affirmatively half the time. (Quite possibly, well over half the time.) – l'électeur Mar 27 '15 at 9:12
7

The sentence sounds like double negative, but it is not. To understand what じゃないですか mean, simply replace it with です. But じゃないですか more sounds like you are not sure about what you've said, and you want the listener to agree with you.

Here are some examples:

  • 心配しないです: I won't worry.
  • 心配しないじゃないですか: I won't worry.(and I want you to agree with it.)

  • これはとても難しい問題です: This is a very difficult problem.

  • これはとても難しい問題じゃないですか: This is a very difficult problem. (and I want you to agree with this)

  • そうです。: It is.

  • そうじゃないですか : It probably is.
1

The phrase じゃないですか in Japanese works in a similar way to the phrase n'est-ce pas in French. The speaker seeks some kind of approval from the listener. It is close to isn't or right at the end of a sentence in English.

心配しない : You do not worry

心配しないじゃないですか : You do not worry, right?

最初からユニコーンを見つけるくらい大変だって知っていれば心配しない : You do not worry although you knew from the start it may be as difficult as trying to find unicorns.

最初からユニコーンを見つけるくらい大変だって知っていれば心配しないじゃないですか : You do not worry although you knew from the start it may be as difficult as trying to find unicorns, right?

0

〜じゃないですか can often be translated along the lines of:

  • Isn't (it the case that) ~ ?
  • ~, right?

So in your case it would be something like "if ... one wouldn't worry, right?"

Related: Meaning of ありじゃないかなぁ.

  • It translates more directly into French (to end sentences): n'est-ce pas? – Kimball Mar 26 '15 at 8:50
  • @Kimball Isn't n'est-ce pas? essentially the same as "right?" in meaning/function? – 5th Mar 27 '15 at 12:53
  • Yes, they're pretty close. I just meant to point out that, in my opinion, French has a closer analogue of じゃないですか than English. Specifically, n'est-ce pas is a literal translation of じゃないですか (as opposed to right?) and it is used to end sentences (which is usually awkward with isn't?). Also I think the actual usage in practice of n'est-ce pas may be more similar to じゃないですか than right?, though my knowledge of these languages in not sufficient for me to say this decisively. – Kimball Mar 27 '15 at 13:18

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