# trouble with comprehension: 最大公約数的な and くらいにまで

Following is an excerpt from 「涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱」. My questions concern the last sentence.

いるわけねー……でもちょっとはいて欲しい、みたいな最大公約数的なことを考えるくらいにまで俺も成長したのさ。

There are two points of confusion, marked in bold.

1. 「最大公約数的な」

I realize that it is not used in a mathematical sense (right?), and according to this 知恵袋 post, it seems it can also mean something like "looking at the points of similarity or compromise between multiple opinions or opposing parties," but I am not sure how this definition applies here. Perhaps it just means "rational" here?

1. 「〜くらいにまで」

I haven't seen this construct before, but I assume it can be interpreted as "at least to the point that ..."?

I am wondering what に is doing here though. I haven't seen くらい・ぐらい used with any following particles. Is it optional?

In fact, would it be okay to replace this with just まで?

I would appreciate help understanding this phrase as well.

• 「いる分けねー」>> 「いる[訳]{わけ}ねー」と書かれてなかったですか？(「いるわけがない・いるはずがない」って意味なので。。。) Feb 16, 2016 at 8:50
• Thanks for catching that! I have a paper copy, so I had to type it by hand. Feb 16, 2016 at 18:03

In mathematics, 「[最大公約数]{さいだいこうやくすう}」 means the "greatest common divisor" and naturally, the meaning is very clear and concrete.

Outside of math, it has a pretty much established definition of "common ground". It is still highly related to its original meaning in math.

The "problem", however, is when people make an adjective out of it -- 「最大公約数[的]{てき}な」. It suddenly becomes a few steps more colloquial in feeling, if not quite slangy. It becomes a pretty fuzzy buzzword without a clear-cut definition.

(Adding 「的な」 to random nouns and noun phrases is just a new trend in the language. If you listen to older people carefully, you will notice they rarely, if ever, do that like their children and grand-children do.)

「最大公約数的な」, in my own words, can mean: "neutral and not extreme", "noncommittal", "grey-area-ish", etc. Now you know why I said "fuzzy" a while ago.

In the context in question, the speaker is saying that he has grown and learned enough to not be so extreme in his thinking. Regarding UFOs and ghosts, he now thinks they may actually exist and he wants them to exist to an extent instead of completely denying or completely believing their existence.

Moving on...

「～～く(or ぐ)らいにまで」 is a fairly common phrase. It is much more common than you appear to think, I assure you.

"(up) to the level where ~~ happens" is what it means.

The 「に」 turns the phrase into an adverbial form that modifies the verb 「[成長]{せいちょう}した」. Is it optional? Informally, yes, I must say, but it sounds "nicer" if you used it.

Would it be Ok to use just 「まで」 instead of saying 「くらいにまで」? Grammatically, yes, but you will look like either you wrote in haste or you do not know how to speak/write naturally.

• great explanation! Feb 17, 2016 at 13:01

My interpretation of the "最大公約数的な" part is that he is talking about making a compromise, or middle ground, between those who totally believe in UFOs and ghosts, and those who don't believe at all.

While I haven't seen "くらいにまで" used very often, from the context I am pretty sure it means that he has grown to the extent where he can think about the above.

So to sum it up, here is a guess at a (very rough) translation.

いる分けねー……でもちょっとはいて欲しい、みたいな最大公約数的なことを考えるくらいにまで俺も成長したのさ。

There's no way they exist... But actually I kind of hope they do exist, at least a little. I think even I've learned to be able to see both sides of this and take a middle ground stance.

• "between those who ~~ and those who ~~"? The speaker is talking only about himself.
– user4032
Feb 16, 2016 at 15:20