7

The sentence, from chapter 7 of the Tobira textbook, is 日本の[漫画]{まんが}は[欧米人]{おうべいじん}の本の読み方さえ変えようとしている, which I think from context should mean something like "Japanese manga even changed the way that Americans & Europeans read books," except that ようとしている is in the present tense.

The rest of the paragraph goes on to explain, in the past tense, that the manga fans in Europe and the US wanted the manga books to be published from right to left like the books in Japan, and so it ended up being like that. The "changing how Westerners read books" is clearly a thing that already happened.

I am used to that grammar construction meaning either "about to do something" or "try to do something," neither of which work in this context. I'm completely mystified. What are the nuances I'm missing?

Note: my question had to do mostly with the reason it is in the ongoing present tense, not the actual meaning of ようとしている in the general case.

  • This might be pedantic, but since さえ is attached to 読み方 I would like to point out that you should be thinking "Japanese manga changed even the way..." rather than "even changed..." (the former "even" is attached to a noun phrase; the latter "even" is attached to the verb, "changed"). However, "changed" does not reflect the meaning of ようとしている, which I explain in my answer below. :) – rhyaeris Jan 30 '17 at 5:52
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Why is the 「ようとして」 construct used here? – Amani Kilumanga Jan 30 '17 at 7:17
  • "I am used to that grammar construction meaning either "about to do something" or "try to do something," neither of which work in this context." why would "about to do something" not work in this context? – Amani Kilumanga Jan 31 '17 at 14:47
  • Because the thing in the sentence had already happened-- it would be like saying "five years ago I am about to go buy some eggs." – Boop Feb 11 '17 at 22:34
5

This ようとする just means "about to do something".

Some western manga fans may have already changed their way of reading books, but for now, that's a local phenomenon that has not yet spread to the general public in Europe/USA. So in this context, the author listed what happened objectively using the past tense, but he/she also thought saying "欧米人の本の読み方が変わった" in general was too much. The sentence in question implies that such change is still in progress and in its early stage.

8

For reference, the full sentence is from page 153 of the textbook 上級へのとびら, and reads:

その上、日本のマンガは欧米人の本の読み方さえ変えようとしている


Grammar

I am used to that grammar construction meaning either "about to do something" or "try to do something," neither of which work in this context.

While ようとする can mean to be about to do something, as in (1)...

(1) 部屋を出ようとすると、電話がなった。
When I was about to leave the room, the phone rang.

This ようとしている here doesn't seem to indicate a person wanting to do something. The meaning here is slightly different - it means a change is about to occur. See the following examples:

(2) 今にもコンサートが始まろうとしている
(The) concert will start at any moment.

(3) ようやく新しいビルが完成しようとしている
Finally, (the) new building is about to be completed.

(4) 冬が終わろうとしているときに雪が降った。
Just when winter was about to end, (the) snow fell.

Hence your sentence means:

(5) その上、日本のマンガは欧米人の本の読み方さえ変えようとしている
Moreover, Japanese manga is about to change even how Westerners read.


Sources

Examples 2, 3 and 4 were taken from this video. It explains ~ようとしている from 00:30, and compares it with similar grammar: ~つつある, ~ばかりだ and ~一方だ.

Another resource: https://www.renshuu.org/grammar/674/%3Cspan%20class=

-2

ようとしている Is not in the present tense, but the "ongoing" tense.
Which is why it was translated as "changing how Westerners read books"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.