So I was working through my textbook and I come across an example sentence, which goes:


I went through the dictionary to look up the words I didn't know, but I just can't seem to comprehend this sentence in a natural way. The way I would translate this sentence would be:

It is said that colours that become popular are influenced by the quality (state?) of the economy at the time.

Is this a good way of interpreting the sentence? Any help will be appreciated!

Also, could someone please explain the meaning of 景気? I feel like dictionary definitions are very vague about it. For example on the EJJE weblio dictionary, it includes phrases such as 景気よく飲む, which apparently translates to "going on a drinking spree", which I can't get my head around as I always associated 景気 with a business-economy meaning. Are these simply figure-of-speeches?

  • Does it help to rewrite the sentence as ”流行する色(に)は,その時の景気の善し悪しが影響する、といわれる”? – eltonjohn Jul 13 '15 at 2:49

Yours is, I must say.

This sentence would not lend itself to "perfect literal translation" in English because of its structure. Hard as you may try, you will end up needing to make adjustments so that your translation would sound natural in the target language.

In your case, you ended up using the passive voice form "are influenced", which is not used in the original but it was inevitable.

流行{りゅうこう}する色{いろ} + は + その時{とき}の景気{けいき}の善{よ}し悪{あ}し + が + 影響{えいきょう}する + という。

"A is what B affects, they say." (But there is no "what" in the original.)

その時の景気の善し悪し + が + 流行する色 + + 影響する + という。

"B affects A, they say." (But one of the particles had to be changed to 「に」 to arrive at this structure in English.)

Though perfectly natural in Japanese, the original sentence is simply not formed in the grammar pattern that Japanese-learners would be used to seeing.

Moving on...

「景気{けいき}」 has a wide range of meanings. It can refer to the economic state of a particular country, corporation, family and even individual.

「景気」 is often a softer-sounding word than 「経済{けいざい}」, which is all about money and numbers. 「景気」 includes in its meanings the general atmosphere of a group of people that can be both economy-related and non-economy-related. "Being in high spirits" is the key.

If someone says 「今日は景気よく飲{の}みましょう!」, it would rarely have anything to do with "good economy". It just means "Let's drink and make noise today!"

  • Thank you for the thorough explanation! I think the sentence content was also a bit unusual so it became harder to grasp. xD Just to clarify about 「景気」... Let's say your friends decide to go out, but you can only join them later because of work. When you join them, you notice they've had a big argument and the atmosphere becomes kind of awkward. Would it be correct to describe that situation with 「景気が悪い」? – April Jul 13 '15 at 1:54

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