I was reading about the upcoming movie この[世界]{せかい}の[片隅]{かたすみ}に - and I thought about what the title might mean. I quickly arrived at "In a corner of this world" (which some sources also seem to list it as). But... the official localization is "In this corner of the world". That's when I realized, there might be two possible ways the phrase works:

  • [この世界]の片隅に – "In a corner of this world", or...

  • この[世界の片隅]に – "In this corner of the world"

So the questions I'd like answered are:

  • Which one is correct?
  • Does この refer to 世界 or the entire phrase "世界の片隅"?
  • Would saying something like "世界のこの片隅に" be correct (despite sounding very wrong)?
  • And whichever of the translations is correct, how would you say the other one?

It might get even more complicated with longer の chains... So I'd also like to know:

  • In general, is there a way to specify which noun in a の series a demonstrative (この, その, あの...) refers to? Or do you have to rephrase the sentence somehow?
  • I'm not going to put an official answer since I am not too confident a general response. However, I would like to say that "In this corner of the world" seems like a bad translation. "In a corner of this world" seems mediocre, but passible. ""In a corner of the world" sounds even better. After skimming the synopsis on the story, I think "In a forgotten corner of the world" would be my best translation. The synopsis specifically uses that phrase, but I don't want to give away the story here. – Locksleyu Jan 31 '17 at 21:22

Both interpretations are technically possible, but when I read this firstly, I thought この only modifies 世界 (i.e., "this world"). That is, if I were to translate the Japanese title literally, I would choose "In a corner of this world." (Note that I don't know much about the movie. And I wouldn't say "In this corner of the world" is a bad translation, either. There may be a reason.)

片隅 is a word that vaguely refers to an inconspicuous place. Specifying it as "この/あの片隅" or counting 片隅 (like 2つの片隅) is not common. On the other hand, この世界 is a phrase I have heard hundreds of times. For the same reason, 世界のこの片隅に sounds a bit weird to me, although it is perfectly grammatical and possible as an eye-catching movie title. Something like 世界のこの場所で sounds more "normal" to me.

In general, is there a way to specify which noun in a の series a demonstrative (この, その, あの...) refers to?

I doubt it. I think we are choosing "the most sane interpretation" almost unconsciously, case by case. When I hear この熊のぬいぐるみ, I would definitely interpret it as "this stuffed bear" but not "a stuffed bear modeled on this bear."

  • Ah, so it's a context thing... That's really irritating. So that leaves: How would you say "In this corner of the world"? And am right in understanding that "XのこのY" would be correct? 😮 – obskyr Feb 1 '17 at 8:28
  • You are irritated because as a non native speaker you do not (yet) have the embedded Hidden Markov Model (obtained through experience) that allows you to disambiguate effortlessly. The irritation, however, motivates your learning, so although it is unpleasant, it is not a bad thing. – Craig Hicks Feb 1 '17 at 18:35
  • @CraigHicks Um, that's all well and good, but I don't think I have much trouble with motivation. Doesn't really help. – obskyr Feb 2 '17 at 7:47
  • Hey, naruto, if you'd explain that last part I could accept this answer! That'd be sweet. – obskyr Feb 2 '17 at 7:48
  • @obskyr Yes, saying XのこのY is okay (eg "本のこの章" = "this chapter of the book"). As for the translation of "In this corner of the world", 「世界のこの片隅で」「世界のこの場所で」 and 「この世界の片隅で」 are all possible (the last one is not very literal but looks natural anyway). – naruto Feb 2 '17 at 9:45

I feel that "In a corner of this world" should be an appropriate tanslation of "この世界の片隅に."

The followings are commonn use of "この"
「世界」ではなく、「この世界」と言う時、「私たちが住んでいるこの世界」というニュアンスが込められている。"This world" has the nuance of "this world we live in daily"

「この世界」is a phrase.

「あの世界」is also one phrase and means ""the afterworld."

The above explanation refers the one phrase of "この世界" and "あの世界"

The followings are the examples of "この", "あの" and "その" in general.

「この本」"This book" : The speaker and listener talk about the book, and the book is in front of them.
「あの本」"That book" : The speaker and listener talk about the book, and the book is not in front of them. They saw the book before.
「その本」"That book or The book" : The speaker and listener talk about the book, and the book is not in front of them. They have not seen the book before.

  • This doesn't really help me at all... I know what この, その, and あの do in general, of course. The problem is when it's by a の combination. – obskyr Feb 1 '17 at 8:24
  • I'm afraid but I can't follow you "The problem is when it's by a の combination. " – Sonny365 TANAKA Feb 2 '17 at 2:17
  • What I'm saying is this didn't really answer most of my question, sorry... This answer does specify which of the translations you'd prefer, but the other parts aren't touched upon... And then there's an explanation about demonstratives in general, which I already know about. – obskyr Feb 2 '17 at 7:46

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