I'm translating Haruki Murakami's essay「真っ白な嘘」and came across this sentence:


Which I've roughly translated as:

But it’s not fun if you do it in a normal way, so I decided to make up imaginary books and write detailed reviews about them.

Most of the sentence I have no problem understanding, It's just the use of 〜ても here in やっても that doesn't seem to translate naturally. I know the construction means "even if" or "even though", but translating the phrase as "But because it's not fun even if you do it in a normal way..." doesn't sound right in English. If there some other use of 〜ても that I'm not aware of?


  • Did he make up imaginary books or just one ? (My guess would be, just one; however, ... ) _________ (Also, if this is for a class, i'm less eager to help, or comment.) ________ Instead of [ roughly translated ] samples, why don't you give us some of your best samples -- by imagining what kind of phrasing he'd be using if he could write in English, . . . if he could write good English.
    – HizHa
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 2:11
  • The thing about 「普通どおりにやっても面白くない」 seems to me that it almost has the same nuance as 「普通どおりにやると(/やったら)面白くない」 despite the usual difference between ~ても and ~と/~たら... Or at least that the "も(even)" sense is lost in the 「やっても」, so that OP's even-less translation is the felicitous one.
    – goldbrick
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Your translation seems about correct to me. And to me, it does sounds rather weird even in Japanese. The fact that it starts by "でも" let me believe the previous sentences would help put it in context and make much more sense.

I worked as a translator for a few years and if there is an advice I can give you is to never translate literally. The 2 languages are far from compatibles and must usually be rephrased to make sense in the other language.

  • The Jp original sounds fine. It's ordinary, commonplace.   The prev. passage is obviously something like:  ~とか、または ~の評論を ~のような趣向で書こうかとも考えた。
    – HizHa
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 5:38
  • Yes with proper context it sounds just fine. But just that sentence as it is, it's kinda weird and would be better with "すると" for example. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:00
  • it does sounds rather weird even in Japanese <- What do you mean? Do you mean the sentence 「でも普通どおりにやっても面白くないから、架空の本をでっちあげて、それを詳しく評論することにした。」 sounds awkward/weird? If so, where? It sounds perfectly natural to my native ear.
    – chocolate
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:40
  • As I just said in the comment before yours, the sentence is fine, but I feel like reading the previous sentence is needed to properly understand the context. If that sentence was used as 100% stand alone, 「普通どおりにすると面白くない」 seems more adequate than 「でも普通どおりにやっても面白くない」. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:56
  • 1
    普通どおりにやっても面白くない is fine by itself. It implies being normal is not enough to be fun while 普通どおりにすると… does it's just not fun. That's the difference.
    – user4092
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 9:50

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