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ところが、引き返すとなったとたん、痛みがましてきた。
However, just as it became time to go back, the pain increased still further.

I don't understand the grammar of the part in bold. My translation is a best guess.

I'm familiar with the use of とたん to mean 'just as', and なる to mean 'become', but I don't know any grammar where と+なる can attach to a verb.

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I think this 引き返す is a case of zero-nominalization (discussed here: Zero-nominalisation - Why and When?).

This means that it works, against all appearances, as a noun phrase, and is part of the familiar construction "NP + と + なる" ("become NP").

Hence "引き返すとなったとたん" more or less equals "as soon as [it] became that [I'm] going back". (I'm trying to come up with a natural translation in context but keep drawing a blank.)

Whereas the parallel of "it became time to go back" would be "引き返すに/となった".

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Your translation is correct. As for the +となる part, allow me to explain:

Normally, when something becomes something, normally you'd see +になる.

However, using +となる implies a finality, as in having FINALLY become that stage of change.

The translation might become more correct if it were: "However, just as it ultimately became time to go back, the pain increased still further."

...or something to that extent. Hope this helps!

  • Not sure if this answer is correct or not but here must be something related to 〜となる vs. 〜になる japanese.stackexchange.com/a/739/19206 – siikamiika May 23 '17 at 2:21
  • yes, +になる shows the direction of change, where +となる shows the end result of a change, thus the finality. in a sense, it's a discrete change and not an ongoing change. for example, if the time were approaching, that'd be a +になる, but when the time finally arrives, +となる expresses that better. at least, that's how I learned it! – psosuna May 23 '17 at 17:01

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