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I came across this sentence, and I've been trying to figure out it's exact meaning.

要は言わなきゃいいだけの話です。

First we have the 言わなきゃいい, which means "it doesn't have to be said".

It is followed by a verb + だけ construct, that is used to trivialize the verb, thus so far we have something like "You simply don't have to talk about that".

Combining all this in the sentence rationally, I came to the conclusion that it means the following:

The point is, it's a topic that you simply shouldn't touch.

For some reason though, my gut feeling tells me that it is more complicated though, one other possible meaning that I can think of:

The point is, this should be obvious to anyone / shouldn't even be mentioned.

Is one of these translations correct?

  • 言わなきゃ alone is short for 言わなければならない which means "You have to say it", adding いいshould not change the meaning to negative. 要は言わなきゃいいだけ "The point is you just have to say it". Though I'm not sure what の話 would mean in this context – Felipe Oliveira Mar 8 '17 at 13:20
  • @FelipeOliveira 言わなきゃ just means 言わなければ. It can mean いわなければならない on its own, but 言わなきゃいい means basically the complete opposite of that. – Aeon Akechi Mar 8 '17 at 18:23
  • @Nothingatall ehh really, didn't know that. thanks for clearing... so it translates to "you must not say it"? – Felipe Oliveira Mar 8 '17 at 18:48
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    ^ I think 言わなければいい is closer to "It'd be better if you didn't say" "You don't have to say" or maybe "You shouldn't say"... "You must not say" is closer to 言ってはいけない/言っちゃいけない/言ってはならない, no? We also have 言わなくていい, "you don't have to say", though... I'm getting confused – Chocolate Mar 9 '17 at 3:21
  • @Shoko thank you for clearing that out, the different tones in translating these sentences are always tricky for beginners like me haha :) – Felipe Oliveira Mar 9 '17 at 13:41
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You are on the right track here.

「Phrase or Mini-Sentence + だけの話{はなし}(だ/です/である, etc.)」

should be treated as a set phrase meaning:

"(Phrase or Mini-Sentence). It's as simple as that."

You might as well remember that we often place 「という」 right in front of 「だけの話」. That would be for a little emphasis on what you want to state using this structure.

Also fairly common is the format below:

「(Full Sentence(s)/Explanation). (ただ)それだけの話だ。」

  • So the sentence translates to "The point is you have to say it! It is as simple as that." right? – Felipe Oliveira Mar 8 '17 at 13:36
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    @FelipeOliveira I think it'd be more like "The point is, you don't have to say / you shouldn't say it! As simple as that." – Chocolate Mar 9 '17 at 3:25

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