6

Some context: Person A and Person B both went through a trying situation dealing with Person C, someone that Person A has known for many years. They are now talking about how awful it was. Person A then thinks this:

[俺]{おれ}に[比]{くら}べて[汚染]{おせん}[度]{ど}10[年分]{ねんぶん}も[少]{すく}ないなんて、なんて[幸]{しあわ}せな[人間]{にんげん}だ。

which as far as I understand is something along the lines of: Person B has suffered 10 years less than I have. How lucky Person B is.

I was pretty surprised 人間 was the choice of word here. I would have expected 人 instead because in my experience 人間 refers to humanity or a type of person. Is this something that's done frequently?

6

Yes, this example sentence is natural.

人間【にんげん】 can be used, as well as 人【ひと】, when one shows their hatred against someone, or when one wants to keep a distance from someone.

  1. 私はあの人が好きです。: OK
  2. 私はあの人が嫌いです。: OK
  3. 私はあの人間が好きです。: Weird
  4. 私はあの人間が嫌いです。: OK

To me, #4 sounds even more hostile than #2.

Likewise, 「彼はそういう人です。(That's how he is.)」 can be used both positively or negatively, but 「彼はそういう人間です。」 is usually negative.

In the sentence in question, なんて幸せな人だ is also OK, but なんて幸せな人間だ sounds like Person A displays a somewhat unfriendly attitude to Person B.

I can't explain the logic behind this, but perhaps the speaker is keeping a distance from the subject by using 人間, the word that does not sound very friendly.

  • Well I think the person that Person A is saying is 幸せな is Person B. I don't think there would be a reason to be unfriendly there. The rest of this seems to make quite a bit of sense though. – Ringil Jun 21 '15 at 16:34
  • @Ringil Thanks, my mistake. If A and B are close friends, and A said this in front of B, then I think A said this probably half-jokingly/sarcastically. – naruto Jun 21 '15 at 16:36
  • As I said in my question, A thinks this. I would agree with you if he had spoken that, but since A and B are close friends it seems somewhat confusing to think that. – Ringil Jun 21 '15 at 16:58
  • Sorry, then perhaps A thought this out of strong jealousy against B? Judging from this sentence alone, I don't think A is celebrating B's luck at heart, anyway. – naruto Jun 21 '15 at 17:08
  • Or maybe A was just trying to be thinking objectively. Addressing someone out loud in front of you as 人間 is generally rude, but it may be acceptable in a monologue. – naruto Jun 21 '15 at 17:24
-6

I'm not sure, but I guess that's only the limitation of the writer's vocabulary.

I would write the said phrase as 俺に比べて汚染度10年分も少ないなんて、なんて幸せな奴だ。

  • 3
    Limited vocabulary? Sorry, but that's nonsense. Do you think anyone (including learners and native speakers) would know 人間 and not 人? And 奴 is almost always used simply as an informal way of saying 人. – Earthliŋ Jun 21 '15 at 12:20
  • 4
    I've seen 人間 used that way multiple times by native speakers. – Chris Jun 21 '15 at 12:27
  • 2
    The question asked "why choose 人間 over 人" and you answered "limitation of the writer's vocabulary". – Earthliŋ Jun 21 '15 at 13:14
  • 2
    I still don't think "limitation of the writer's vocabulary" is relevant here at all. – Earthliŋ Jun 21 '15 at 13:20
  • 4
    I highly doubt writer vocabulary limitations are at play here... – Ringil Jun 21 '15 at 15:09

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