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ものすごく酸っぱい梅干しを食べたみたいに顏をしかめて、猛烈に残念がった友蔵{ともぞう}に、「何もそこまで」とおかあさんが、みんなの気持ちを代表して、ボンっとつぶやいた。
Mum, representing everyone's feelings, muttered 何もそこまで to Tomozou who was acting as though it (what he'd just heard) was terribly bad luck, and making a face like he'd eaten a really sour umeboshi.

Literally 何もそこまで means "nothing to that extent". So I get the idea that she is saying that Tomzou's reaction is a bit extreme. But what does she actually mean? Is it an instruction telling him to stop taking things too far? Is it just a comment that she thinks his reaction is excessive? Or something else? How should 何もそこまで... be completed?

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2 Answers 2

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This 何も here (which I will call the "protestive 何も") should be differentiated from the 何も meaning "(not) any".

First, the pitch accents are different (at least in standard Japanese): なにも{HLL} ("protestive") vs なにも{LHH} ("(not) any")

Second, the protestive 何も always appears at the beginning of a clause, whereas the (not-)any 何も can appear in various positions.

I labeled this the "protestive '何も'" because it is used when you are protesting against another person's action that you think is extreme, unfair, unreasonable, inappropriate , etc.

Some example sentences to help get a better feel of it:

ちょっとからかっただけで、何も泣くことはないだろう。(It was just a little harmless teasing. Don't cry like a little baby.)

彼は二回遅刻しただけですよね。何もクビにする必要はなかったのでは? (He was just late for work twice. Did you really need to fire him? (Wasn't that a bit extreme?))

プリンを勝手に食べたのは悪いと思うけど、何もそこまで怒ることないじゃん。 (I'm sorry I ate your pudding, but do you have to be so mad about it?)

As for "何もそこまで" in question, you could say there's omitted material after it. In that case, it would be something to the effect of "何もそこまで(残念がることはないでしょう)", which would translate to "You don't have to look/be so disappointed, don't you think?" But chances are that お母さん had nothing specific that she left unsaid. In context, "何もそこまで", without supplementation, was sufficient to convey what exactly she wanted to say.

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  • I'm not 100% confident about the pitch accent thing. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong on that. (Or on any other part, of course.)
    – goldbrick
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 16:25
  • It is Low-High-High for "not any" in Standard Japanese. Wonder where you are from to pronounce it Low-Low-Low.
    – user4032
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 16:34
  • ありがとうございます!実際にLLLで発音しているのか、LHHと発音しているけれど、認識が誤っているのか・・・
    – goldbrick
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 16:39
  • Accentless words go LHH in the beginning of a phrase, and level (LLL or HHH) in the course of a phrase. Rise or regaining of pitch is independent from accent pattern of each word, which is if or where it has downstep.
    – user4092
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 21:01
  • @goldbrick@: > This 何も here (which I will call the "protestive 何も") Excellent! What a proper term for 何も it is! By the way, LLL for 棒読み (reading with a level pitch) is the same matter that was also commented as a mistake to my answer before. Apart from the way how to read this word, 棒読み was introduced or invented to hide their dialect by students from local areas in Japan far from Tokyo. クラブ for club is the typical word to have been pronounced in 棒読み around these two decade. For this reason, I think, 棒読み should be pronounced with LLLL pitch for the students.
    – user20624
    Commented May 28, 2017 at 2:12
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(1)ものすごく酸っぱい梅干しを食べたみたいに顏をしかめて、猛烈に残念がった友蔵{ともぞう} に、「何もそこまで」とおかあさんが、みんなの気持ちを代表して、ボンっとつぶやいた。

If you omit modifiers in sentence (1), a sentence would remain as:

(2) 残念がった友蔵{ともぞう}に、「何もそこまで」とおかあさんがつぶやいた。

If I add an inffered phrase to phrase 「何もそこまで」, I could get possible two phrases like:

(3) 残念がった友蔵{ともぞう}に、「何もそこまで残念がることはないのに」とおかあさんがつぶやいた。 (3)' 残念がった友蔵{ともぞう}に、「何もそこまで残念がることはないのに何故{なぜ}そこまで残念がるの?」とおかあさんがつぶやいた。
(4) 残念がった友蔵{ともぞう}に、「残念がるなら何もそこまですることはなかったのに」とおかあさんがつぶやいた。
(4)' 残念がった友蔵{ともぞう}に、「残念がるなら何もそこまですることはなかったのに何故{なぜ}そこまでしたの?」とおかあさんがつぶやいた。

As for (3) and (3)', the mother referred to Tomozo's reaction affected by the unwritten cause.
As for (4) and (4)', the mother referred to the unwritten cause that he did that affected Tomozo.

(3)' and (4)' are full sentence for (3) and (4) respectively. We usually use (3) and (4), because the full sentences sound verbose.

As for 何をそこまで, I don't know the grammatical explanation of 何を, but you could understand 何をそこまで is a set phrase and it could strengthen the meaning of そこまで, then it could be said as a tentative stressed form of そこまで.

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    I'm really sorry but I can't understand your 'two possible phrases'. I'm confused about why they end in のに and I still don't understand what 何も is doing in this context. Commented May 27, 2017 at 14:15
  • ...also, it wasn't me that down voted. I appreciate your efforts. Commented May 27, 2017 at 14:39
  • @user3856370: I edited my answer for your request. And thank you for your information.
    – user20624
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 14:56

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