I was just wondering, because in English we can say "This story begs the question" etc. The wording for English is very versatile, and I was wondering if Japanese has this as well, for example in this sentence:


  • 2
    A good question, but in this case "to beg the question" is more of an idiom, no?
    – Brandon
    Feb 24 '16 at 18:12
  • Can you give a more detailed example? What question does it beg?
    – Locksleyu
    Feb 24 '16 at 18:48
  • But what does "begs the question" mean here? To raise the question? To dodge the question? To make a circular reasoning? Feb 24 '16 at 19:54
  • 3
    @broccoliforest forest makes a good point - the actual meaning of "to beg the question" refers to a logical fallacy; what people sometimes (mistakenly) mean when they say it is "raise the question."
    – Kurausukun
    Feb 24 '16 at 23:08

In English, an inanimate thing can frequently be the subject of a sentence as if the thing had its will. In Japanese, that happens less often, and many sentences are better translated into Japanese by selecting other words as the subject. Wikipedia has some examples of such sentences. To take a few:

  • The book will teach you the basic conversation of Spanish. (△その本はスペイン語会話の基礎を教える。)
    → By reading the book you can learn the basic conversation of Spanish. (その本を読めばスペイン語会話の基礎が学べる。)
  • The airplane enables you to reach Los Angels tomorrow. (△飛行機はあなたを明日ロサンゼルスに着くのを可能にする。
    → Thanks to the airplane, you can reach Los Angels tomorrow. (飛行機のおかげであなたは明日ロサンゼルスに到着することができる。)
  • The heavy snow prevented him from going home yesterday. (△あの大雪は彼の昨日の帰宅を妨げた。
    → Due to the heavy snow, he could not go home yesterday. (あの大雪のため、彼は昨日家に帰れなかった。)
  • This photo reminds me of my childhood. (△この写真は、子ども時代をわたしに思い起こさせる。)
    → When I see this photo, I recall my childhood. (この写真を見ると私は子どもの頃を思い出す。)

The English sentences are followed by the literal Japanese translation. Here "△" indicates that that Japanese sentence is probably understandable but unnatural, because an inanimate thing like book or airplane is the subject. To translate such sentences naturally, you have to rephrase them so that a living thing becomes the subject, as shown in the second line of each bullet.

  • And the reason why there's preference in choosing the subject is that the listener often has to speculate what the subject is while it's omitted.
    – user4092
    Feb 25 '16 at 2:49

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