This last sentence from my textbook puzzles me. No matter how I break it down i can't understand it.


それを覚えるのが、大事な社会教育だと言ってもよいだろう。[You could say that memorizing that is good social education.] or something along those lines

I'd immensely appreciate a grammar breakdown/proper translation. Here's the paragraph for context

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Generally speaking, I think there are many more greetings that have a fixed way of saying them in Japanese compared to English. For example, when you give something to someone, are serving a dish to customers, or when you meet your children's teacher, or any other time when there is a fixed way to say something, I think it is safe to say that it is very important as a member of society to learn those fixed expressions.

Breaking it down:

  1. First the speaker gives 3 examples of situations when you would use 決まり文句:

    • 人に何かをあげる時
    • 客に食事を出す時
    • 自分の子供の先生に会った時
  2. Next the speaker uses the phrase そのほか. その is referring back to the 3 examples just given and the ほか means "other". So, the speaker is now referring to situations other than just explained.

  3. For the next part, you should notice there is a question embedded in the sentence:


Breaking this down further:

  • どういう時 > What situation?
  • 何と言ったらよいか > What should I say?

Putting them together you get "What should I say in what situation?"

  1. Next you have が決まっていて which is followed right after the question part. In Japanese, you can have a question form like this be modified. For example, if you had the question どこで食べますか? (Where will we eat). You can also say どこで食べるかがまだ決まっていない (It is still not decided where will we eat)

Applying that to どういう時に何と言ったらよいかが決まっていて you get "It is decided what to say in what situation". However, when translating you probably want to make more natural English, so I made it "a time (situation) when there is a fixed way to say something"

  1. それを覚えるのが

それ here is referring back to the どういう時に何と言ったらよいか that was mentioned previously.

So it is saying "Remembering what things to say in what situation..."

  1. 大事な社会教育だと言ってもよいだろう

I'm assuming you have no problem here.

  • 2
    それ here is referring back to the あいさつ用語 <- それ refers to どういう時に何と言ったらよいか. To rephrase the sentence:「(例1、例2、例3、そのほか、)どういう時に何と言ったらよいかが決まっている。そして、それを覚えるのが = どういう時に何と言ったらよいかを覚えるのが大事な社会教育だと言ってもよいだろう。」 – Chocolate Nov 11 '16 at 23:48
  • @chocolate: Yes, you are right chocolate (fixed). この回答を書いている途中で自分もわからなくなってきましたw・・・ – Jesse Good Nov 12 '16 at 2:47

Let's start from the end of the phrase:

が決まっていて It's been decided

I think you have no problem here.

何と言ったらよいか what it is good/correct to say

This part is the subject of 決まる, so it means that it's already established (in the japanese language and culture) what it is correct (or not) to say.

そのほかどういう時に any other time (any other situation)

So it means there are 決まり文句 for (almost) every situation, compared to English. I don't want to give you a full translation because English is not my first language, but i hope you can understand it better to make your own one ;)

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