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Trying to make sense of this sentence:

自分は死ぬ前に一目{ひとめ}思う女に逢{あ}いたいと云った。

Daijirin lists 一目 as a noun. However, it doesn't connect with 思う according to normal rules (there is no particle). To connect with 思う or 逢う, it must be an adverb. As it came before 思う, I thought the whole sentence to mean:

I explained that before I died, I'd like to see to see a woman with whom I fell in love at first sight. // who I knew only through a glance etc

However, the actual translation goes:

I explained that before I died, if only for a moment, I wanted to see the woman I loved.

Clearly, this interprets 一目 as an adverb that applies to 逢う (tai).

In other words, I have 2 questions:

1) is 一目 really an adverb?

2) how does it work in this sentence, grammar-wise?

3) if it's a set phrase I'm fine with no explanation other than "it just works", I'd just like to make sure what's happening here

  • Where/which version of the Daijirin did you use? The one here does not mention the word category, nor does the Koujien 6th version. Other dictionaries list it as a noun, but only list examples where it is used that way (eg. 一目で偽物だと分かる). Did you look up under ひとめ? The Daijirin accessible at excite.co.jp lists いちもく as a noun. – blutorange Apr 17 '15 at 12:34
  • I stand corrected, the "noun" part I mistakenly quoted from Daijirin's entry for いちもく. The question still stands though. What is 一目? – user9771 Apr 17 '15 at 12:36
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「[自分]{じぶん}は[死]{し}ぬ[前]{まえ}に[一目思]{ひとめおもう}う[女]{おんな}に[逢]{あ}いたいと[云]{い}った。」

The part that you are misreading is 「一目思う女に逢いたい」, which can be rephrased as 「思う女に一目逢いたい」.

「一目」 modifies「逢いたい」, and not 「思う」. In fact, it is impossible to "一目思う a person" in the first place; It just makes no sense.

「一目会いたい」 is a common set phrase meaning "to want to see someone even for one second".

Thus, the translation "I explained that before I died, if only for a moment, I wanted to see the woman I loved." is a very accurate one.

is 一目 really an adverb?

No, it is a noun, strictly speaking, but it can function adverbially because it expresses a frequency. 「一目会いたい」 is as correct as 「2[回見]{かいみ}た」、「3[度行]{どい}った」, etc.

how does it work in this sentence, grammar-wise?

As I said above, 「一目」 just modifies 「逢いたい」. The fact it had another word (思う) in between seems to have confused you.

if it's a set phrase I'm fine with no explanation other than "it just works", I'd just like to make sure what's happening here

It is a set phrase but it would take a lot of experience to spot it. I assume. Your careful approach to comprehension is pretty impressive.

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