5

The following is from a worksheet on noun modification:

文があいまいにならないように気をつけましょう。

茶色い目のキレイな少女

→ 茶色い目がキレイな少女(キレイな茶色の目をした少女)
→ 茶色い目の、キレイな少女(茶色い目で、ルックスがキレイな少女)
→ 茶色い、目のキレイな少女(目がキレイで、肌が茶色い少女)

I'm not 100% about what is being shown here but I think it's saying that 茶色い目のキレイな少女 is a bit ambiguous and the three sentences that follow aren't as ambiguous?

I'd really appreciate it if somebody could tell me what's being highlighted here.

5

Right, the sentence

茶色い目のキレイな少女

is ambiguous and may be parsed in the following ways

  1. 茶色い目のキレイな 少女

  2. 茶色い目の (キレイな 少女)

  3. 茶色い (目のキレイな 少女)


  1. In the first parsing, 茶色い目がキレイ modifies 少女, where が has become の through ga-no conversion

    A young lady, who has beautiful brown eyes.

    This interpretation is forced by not using ga-no conversion

    → 茶色い目がキレイな少女

  2. In the second parsing, キレイな modifies 少女 and 茶色い目の modifies キレイな少女

    A beautiful young lady, who has brown eyes.

    This parsing is suggested by inserting a comma

    → 茶色い目の、キレイな少女

  3. In the third parsing, 目のキレイな modifies 少女 and 茶色い modifies 目のキレイな少女.

    A young lady with beautiful eyes, who is brown.

    This parsing is suggested by inserting a comma

    → 茶色い、目のキレイな少女


In English we have

a beautiful brown-eyed young lady

which captures the ambiguity between (1) and (2), where it's not clear whether the eyes are beautiful or the young lady herself.

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