I came across the phrase 言ったりしたら【いったりしたら】 in one of the Tintin books I'm reading. It means something like "if I say [it]".

What I can't figure out is how it's different from simply saying 言ったら.

Here it is in context:

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My rough translation:

Tintin: So, what is that boss's name?

Doctor: I... I can't say that! If I say it, they'll do something terrible to me!

What is the difference in nuance or meaning between 言ったりしたら and 言ったら?

  • 2
    As I'm sure you know, 〜たり is usually used to denote listing, with an implied ‘et cetera’ when its used singly. It's exactly the same here.
    – Zhen Lin
    Aug 17, 2011 at 8:00
  • According to some "elite" native speakers I know, "たり" with a single enumerated object is grammatically incorrect. It may be style here, but I don't have the French Tintin with me to tell the nuance of the original version…
    – Axioplase
    Aug 18, 2011 at 6:41
  • 1
    Not to be a jerk or anything, but if those "elite" speakers aren't narrowing their claim somehow (e.g. "in formal academic writing" or "according to the ruleset declared by Grammarian X" or whatever), they are simply wrong. Lone たり has been in use for centuries. It may be somewhat colloquial (not sure about this) but it is certainly grammatically correct in modern Japanese, by any reasonable definition of correctness.
    – Matt
    Aug 19, 2011 at 3:59
  • Indeed, Makino and Tsutsui explicitly give an example of lone たり in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, page 461. Jan 14, 2019 at 16:08

2 Answers 2


I'm not a Japanese native speaker, but it sounds to me like "if I go around saying (his name) ...", or more idiomatically,"if I go throwing his name around, I'll be in big trouble with the gang!", would be passable translations.

  • I'm giving this answer the check mark because I think "throwing his name around" is a viable translation, given that 言ったりしたら seems to mean more than "saying", but the character gives no other examples of possible actions were given other than "saying". So "throwing" hits the right mark of variable actions without being specific about other options.
    – Questioner
    Aug 23, 2011 at 7:00

I think there is an implication that there could have been other things done or showing lack of sequence that you get with 言ったりしたら but not 言ったら.

My geuss is that he is saying there where other things that could have been done, but all tintin could think of was saying something.

I couldn't translate this well but to me this seems like it would be similar to the following in english "At least he could have kept his mouth shut (out of possible other things he could have done)"

  • Yeah soryr about that dave, I specifically avoided translating it cause I was unclear about 言えない言ったり, so i threw up what i think he's saying. Aug 19, 2011 at 3:25
  • ah, you split the sentence there. That makes sense. I would say that he is saying "if i talk about it or something they'll do something horrible to me" with the something being like giving away what he isn't suppose to talk about. Aug 19, 2011 at 5:38
  • that's my point though, that the difference is where him "saying it" is all inclusive or not, that is what i perceive the difference to be. Other than that nuance, to me, there are the same. Aug 19, 2011 at 7:29

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