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何者にもなれない

Let's break it down...

*何も here means nothing (with negatives)

*者 means people

*に is the target particle

*なる means to become

*なれない is the negative potential of なる

How in the world does this translate as "Unable to accomplish anything?". Does it lack context or something?

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So, someone translated:

「何者{なにもの}にもなれない」

into:

"Unable to accomplish anything"

That is indeed an excellent translation in that it conveys perfectly the meaning/essence of the original. It is not a word-for-word translation, of course, but a word-for-word translation often makes little sense between Japanese and English.

In case you wanted a literal translation, it would be something like "to be unable to (even) become anyone". IMHO, that would be far more ambiguous than "unable to accomplish anything". You may, of course, disagree.

「何者」, in this context with the negative 「なれない」, means "a worthwhile person", "someone who has achieved something", "a person worth mentioning", etc.

「も」 means "even".

「~~になれない」 means "to be unable to become ~~".

Thus, the phrase is saying that someone is (being) unable to become (even a bit of) a worthwhile person. If I am not mistaken, "to become a someone" even in English would mean "to become a worthwhile person", does it not? We are talking "becoming successful" and "not becoming successful" here.

Do you still feel that "unable to accomplish anything" is a strange translation? Quite a few users here seem to let the translated words get in their way of understanding the original. I know that for sure because I do answer quite a few questions here.

Translation is an art, not a natural science. The components used in one language do not have to physically correspond to those used in the other. If the essence of the phrase/sentence is maintained and the product (= translation) sounds natural in the target language, you basically have a good translation.

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    「も」 definitely doesn't mean "even" here. It's the same particle as in 「誰にも」「どこにも」 that changes the word's meaning from "who" to "nobody/anybody" or from "where" to "nowhere/anywhere". 「何者」 roughly means "who", so 「何者にも」 means "(become) anybody". The whole sentence literally means "who can't become anybody". – Nikolai Jan 24 '17 at 17:00
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    “Unable to accomplish anything” may not be a strange translation as such, but I wouldn’t call it an excellent one either. Accomplishing something and becoming someone are two different things. You can accomplish a lot of things and still not ‘be someone’; and you can ‘be someone’ without accomplishing anything much at all. Nikolai’s suggestion of “… who will never amount to anything” is a much better translation. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '17 at 21:47
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*何も here means nothing (with negatives)

*者 means people

You confused the order. 何者 means "who/what kind of person", add にも to that and you get "[become] no one" (with negatives).

A literal translation would be "who can't become anyone", where "anyone" implicitly denotes someone of importance. I agree that translation is somewhat liberal: becoming someone of importance is indeed an accomplishment, but not necessarily the other way around.

I think I've seen a different translation "who will never amount to anything" which I think fits much better.

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