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…接客用のメイドなんだから、泣くのはともかく笑えなくなるのって相当まずくない…?

ともかく is usually

anyhow / at any rate / be that as it may / setting aside / is one thing

However using it like that the sentence would come out like

Since she's a maid for serving customers crying is one thing but isn't it considerably bad not being able to smile ?

Somehow it doesn't sound right. It makes it appear that the crying thing is rather acceptable while the biggest problem is not being able to smile. Shouldn't this be inverted, that it's one thing not being able to smile but crying is pretty bad ?

When ともかく is between verbs does it change it's priority ? Can someone explain ?

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~はともかく is a common set phrase which is used like a conjunctive meaning putting aside or aside from.

From デジタル大辞泉:

2 (「…はともかく」の形で)…は別として。…はさておき。「交通の便は―、閑静でいい」

The speaker says that her inability to cry is a less important problem which could be put aside (because she doesn't have to cry when working as a maid), but her inability to smile is a critical problem as a maid.

You can find more examples on JGram.

  • Does this imply that to a lesser degree that the ability to cry (at will?) is still important to a maid? Perhaps off topic, but is there a "crying" service in which people request a maid to "cry"!? I don't get it. – Leo Aug 9 '16 at 1:48
  • @Leo I'm assuming the background context is "she has a problem expressing her emotions (both positive and negative ones)". A problem not as a maid but as a person. – naruto Aug 9 '16 at 1:53
  • Ahh, that makes much more sense. The sentence led me to believe that the topic was 接客 so I thought that the crying was somehow involved in the 接客. – Leo Aug 9 '16 at 2:03
  • I may well be wrong, but the impression I get from the wording of the sentence is that the maid does have a habit of crying, whether while on duty or not, which the speaker says is less of a problem as a maid than the inability to smile which (apparently) she has developed or is beginning to develop. The point to be discussed here seems to be whether or not the signification of the potential and the negative elements in the 笑えなくなる spills over to the preceding 泣く, in which case it's 泣く(cry) in form but 泣けない (not able to cry) in substance. (I'm inclined to think the 泣く means just 泣く) – goldbrick Aug 9 '16 at 12:48
  • @goldhick So you think this sentence says 「仕事外でなら泣いていてもいいけど仕事中に笑えないのはダメ」? I took this 泣くのはともかく as 泣けないのはともかく because this sentence says nothing about when she can or cannot cry. Anyway if we have enough context there should be no room for misunderstanding :) – naruto Aug 9 '16 at 13:20
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I think it's saying: crying is definitely bad but (not considering that for the current moment) isn't not being able to smile pretty bad?

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