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I recently came across the following sentence:

他人が悪い事をしているからといって自分もそうしてよいということにはならない。

I understand the sentence. It means that if other people do bad things and you also do bad things, it doesn't become a good thing (i.e. two wrongs don't make a right.)

However, I don't understand what という means, and what purpose it serves in the sentence.

I know that という can be used to refer to the name of something.

For example: これはというスマトフォン。(This is called a smartphone.)

What does it mean in the first sentence I gave?

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    「これはというスマートフォン」, believe it or not, simply means "a very good Smartphone". It is not even a sentence. It does not mean "This is called a Smartphone". – l'électeur Sep 21 '15 at 8:17
  • Okay thanks. But that doesn't really help me understand it. Maybe you can give an example? – Bobby Sep 21 '15 at 8:22
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    @Bobby I think what you wrote is like 「これは」というスマートフォン (=優秀なスマートフォン), which is a noun phrase. But I think you wanted to write the more basic sentence これはスマートフォンと言う, with the verb and particle at the end. I think you just stuck という in the wrong place :-) – snailcar Sep 21 '15 at 8:37
  • Gotcha. Just another question. Why is putting という in front equivalent to 優秀な in the explanation you gave? Is it a set phrase – Bobby Sep 21 '15 at 8:43
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    @Bobby I'm not sure I can do a good job explaining it, but これは can be an exclamation expressing surprise/admiration, so imagine a smartphone that makes you say これは! If you post a separate question about it, someone might write a better answer :-) – snailcar Sep 21 '15 at 8:57
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There are many ways 「という」 works, but in this type of sentence, I think you can voice it as the word that.

Although you understand the meaning of the sentence correctly, your literal translation leads me to suspect you are parsing it incorrectly. (I'm sorry if that's not the case.)

X からといって Y ということにはならない

This is a frequently used construct in the form 「X からといって Y ということにはならない」. Remember that ことになる here can be voiced as make it fact. So ことにならない is doesn't make it fact. And notice that the といって is also a form of という.

X ←[ から(because) ][ といって(that) ] Y←[ という(that) ][ ことにはならない(doesn't make it fact) ]

Reorder the words, and you get “Because that X, doesn't make it fact that Y”. (= Just because X is true, doesn't mean that Y is true)

Now, take the translations of 「他人が悪い事をしている (Other people are doing bad things)」「自分もそうしてよい (It is fine for one to do so also)」, and insert them in as the X and Y. This procedure will work for other sentences in this format (e.g. 「自分ができないからといって、あきらめていいということにはならない」「値段{ねだん}が高いからといって、おいしいということにはならない」).

Similar uses of という

Maybe visualize it as a pointer:

  • 王子が結婚した という(→) ニュース (news ← that is "the prince married")
  • 彼が生きている という(→) うわさ (rumor ← that is "he is alive")
  • コーヒーが飲みたい という(→) 気持ち (feeling ← that is "wanting to drink coffee")
  • iPhone 6 という(→) スマートフォン (smartphone ← that is "iPhone 6")
  • 女性が多い という(→) 情報 (information ← that is "there are many women")

Using this pointer image, maybe you can also visualize 「これは X という (This is called X)」 reordered, as:

X という(→) これ (this ← that is "X")

Hope that helps in some way.

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