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Another passage in がばいばあちゃん chapter one reads:

...ほとんどスラム街というような状況だった。てんで勝手に露天を出して、いろんな店がひしめき合っていた

This probably sounds like a silly question, but I was confused by the italics part. I assume it's like てんでに勝手に, with てんで meaning individually and 勝手 meaning on one's own initiative. What confused me is why there isn't a に after each of てんで and 勝手. I attempted this translation.

...just about the whole area had turned into a slum. Everybody set up individually, on their own initiative, open area shops; they all jostled together.

Is this the right reading?

Edit:

I noticed that てんで can also mean 'entirely, altogether'. But I assume that's not the meaning implied here?

3

Here てんで is an adverb that means at all, very or totally. Basically it's just another intensifier.

てんで

[副]
1 (打消しの表現や否定的な意味をもつ語を伴って)まるっきり。まったく。てんから。「てんで相手にしてくれない」「てんでやる気がない」「てんでだめだ」
2 (打消しの表現を伴わないで)非常に。とても。「この店の料理はてんでうまい」

Since it's not an adjective but a standalone adverb, it does not require に after it.

In modern Japanese, てんで is used with a relatively small set of adjectives. I commonly see てんで駄目 and てんでバラバラ. I think I have seen てんでおかしい and てんでわからない or such several times. It's almost always used in negative sentences or with negative-sounding adjectives. Actually この店の料理はてんでうまい doesn't seem natural to me.

In your example sentence, てんで modifies the following adjective, 勝手, and means something like totally.

てんで should not be confused with てんでに, which is another adverb:

てんでに

[副]《「てんでんに」の音変化》めいめいに。それぞれに。各自。「てんでに旗を振る」


EDIT: Actually, it appears that both interpretations (それぞれ and まるっきり) are possible. As described above, I initially thought まるっきり was the only natural interpretation. The reasons were:

  • Almost all examples of てんで (without に) found on BCCWJ clearly meant まるっきり, except that only two phrases, てんで勝手に and てんでばらばら, seemed somewhat ambiguous. てんで clearly means まるっきり in てんでダメ, てんで分からない, てんで弱い, てんで仕事にならない and other hundreds of examples. Then why do we have to treat only those two phrases as exceptions?
  • I could not find or think of a natural example where てんで is used in isolation as an adverb to modify a verb/adjective to mean それぞれ. We can say それぞれ喋る or おのおの喋る. We can also say てんでに喋る, てんでんに喋る or てんでん喋る. But we cannot say てんで喋る. Doesn't this mean てんで always need に to mean それぞれ? The dictionary entry quoted above also seems to imply this.

However:

  • While I could not find a distinct entry for てんで勝手に itself, てんでばらばら is so common and デジタル大辞泉 has a separate entry for it. It says てんでばらばら is the same as てんでんばらばら, which is defined as 各人の考えや行動が統一を欠くさま.
  • 実用日本語表現辞典 explicitly says that てんで in てんでばらばら can be interpreted in two ways:

    「てんでんばらばら」の略。各人が別個に、思い思いにするさまなどを意味する表現。ちなみに、「てんでん」を副詞「てんで」と解釈した場合も、意味合いは大体同じ。

  • The examples of てんで勝手に @broccoliforest introduced in the comment section are basically ambiguous (i.e., それぞれ勝手に and まるっきり勝手に both seem to fit). However when we look at them carefully, some of them do not appear to carry negative connotations. As I said before, てんで is usually used with negative-sounding words. So てんで勝手に does look somewhat exceptional in this regard.
  • てんで does not mean それぞれ when it's used as an isolated adverb. However, as @mackygoo pointed out in his answer, there are a few words which always require に as an isolated adverb but do not require に when combined with another adverb. One example is 勝手気ままに暮らす. 勝手暮らす is ungrammatical because it lacks に, but 勝手気ままに暮らす is okay.

Therefore, in conclusion, てんで勝手に means either まるっきり勝手に or それぞれ勝手に, and it may not be possible to distinguish. (Despite the "proof" in @mackygoo's revised answer, I won't say the latter is the only interpretation. まるっきり totally makes sense at any rate.) Note that, to my knowledge, this ambiguity happens only with two phrases: てんで勝手に and てんでばらばらに. Whenever you see てんで used with negative-sounding expressions other than these two, it should mean entirely, totally, etc.

  • On second thoughts, this seems the more likely reading. – Robert May 30 '17 at 6:06
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    いや、この場合は「それぞれ」の方の意味ではないでしょうか…。 yourei.jp/%E3%81%A6%E3%82%93%E3%81%A7%E5%8B%9D%E6%89%8B – broccoli forest May 30 '17 at 9:23
  • @broccoliforest その用例集は「全く勝手に」‌​「それぞれ勝手に」のどちらでも通じるので判断‌​の根拠にならない気がします。「に」なしの「てんで」単体が「それぞれに/めいめい」という意味を持つ例ってあるでしょうか。個人的にはそういう使い方はしない気がします。「みんなてんでに喋ってる」はありでも「‌​みんなてんで喋ってる」はおかしい気がしま‌​す。 – naruto May 30 '17 at 13:49
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Original:

てんで is the short form of てんでんバラバラ or てんでんばらばら which is used like てんでんばらばらの or てんでんばらばらに meaning scattering or being scattered in all directions or here and there.


Edited:

I'm going to prove my original answer is correct and to eliminate the predominant misunderstanding regarding てんで.

Definition 1:
てんで
[副] (打消しの表現を伴わないで)非常に。とても。「この店の料理はてんでうまい」
[Adverb](without being accompanied by expression of the negation) very much

Definition 2:
てんでに
[副]《「てんでんに」の音変化》めいめいに。それぞれに。各自。「てんでに旗を振る」
[Adverb]《A euphonic change from てんでんに》 apiece, in each, separately, individually

To prove てんで in てんで勝手に has the meaning of definition 2 the following two problems have to be solved.

Problem 1: Is there any example or a tester that could clarify that the meaning of てんで in てんで勝手に is only definition 2 but not definition 1?

Problem 2: Why could に be omitted in てんでに in the use of てんで勝手に without losing the meaning of the definition 2?

As for problem 1, the collection of use examples of てんで勝手に introduced by broccoli forest could not become the tester, because the examples could be interpreted as making sense both in the definition 1 and 2 without any contradiction as is said by naruto.

Then, let's てんでん be a tester instead of てんで.

From definition 2, てんでん is equivalent to てんで, and てんでん is the omitted form of てんでんに, so the tester てんでん have to solve the problem 2 afterwards, which is the same condition as てんで.

てんでん has not any meaning of definition 1, so if you find actual use examples of it, てんでん in てんでん勝手に could solve the problem 1, which means that てんで in てんで勝手に solve the problem 1 at the same time.

If you search for it on the Internet, you could find many examples as:

  • 価値観が違い、欲望のあり方が異なっている小集団に分かれて、てんでん勝手に消費行動をされると、...

  • 人間なんかは、てんでん勝手に、死んでしまうなり、生きながらえてゆくなり、運に任せておいたらいいわね。

  • ...みんながそれぞれに(てんでん勝手に?)いろんなやり方でそれは統一とかいうものでもなく...

  • ...家族が家に居てやれるのでミナ柴は庭に放しています、てんでん勝手に涼しい所を見つけてくつろいでいます、

  • そこでもって、てんでん勝手に、えー、 時間を過ごすというふうになってるわけでございますが、...。

  • あれよあれよとするうちに菊やハーブがてんでん勝手に根や株を増やし、...

  • 一人一人手元で画像を見る風景はまるで友達同士がせっかく集まってもてんでん勝手に自分のスマホをかまっていると同じ風景を連想します。

  • それ以外では、てんでん勝手にいろんな暦を考え出して使っていたようです。

I think I could let てんでん be a sufficient tester to solve the problem 1.

As for problem 2, I'm going to show you some of the synonyms of てんでに or てんでんに as:

それぞれに、めいめいに/めいめいで、勝手に、好きに、好き勝手に、自分勝手に、身勝手に、無秩序に、無節操に、無統制に、ばらばらに(バラバラに)、てんでんばらばらに(てんでんバラバラに)、まちまちに、散り散りに、個々に、思い思いに、各々{おのおの}で、各自で、各員で、めいめいで、ひとりひとりで、個人個人で、個々人で

If you look at the synonyms as a whole, they have に (で in some words) at the end of each word.
Here, I found a very interesting fact that if you combine the two of them to strengthen the meaning, the former word becomes the stem of the adverb by omitting に or で like:

それぞれ勝手に (それぞれ + 勝手に), めいめい勝手に (めいめい + 勝手に), 好き勝手に(好き + 勝手に), 勝手バラバラに (勝手 + バラバラに), 個々まちまちに (個々 + まちまちに), てんでんバラバラに (てんでん + バラバラに), てんでバラバラに (てんで + バラバラに), てんでん勝手に (てんでん + 勝手に), てんで勝手に (てんで + 勝手に)

This completes the proof.

My edited answer to the given question:

てんで is the euphonic change from てんでんに whose meaning is apiece, in each, separately, individually, etc.
てんで in てんで勝手に in the given sentence is placed to strengthen the meaning of an adverb 勝手に that means selfishly or willfully. てんで勝手に is a combined adverb with てんでに and 勝手に. When making the combination, に is omitted in てんでに by leaving the stem of the word; the omission often happens in making this kind of combined words.

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    Hmm, this website kotobank.jp/word/… has [形動]各人の考えや行動が統一を欠くさま。 and 皆が思い思いに行動するさま。 as its two definitions. Both sound pretty close to the meaning of the English word "individually". – Robert May 28 '17 at 4:25
  • @Robert: Yes, "individually" is a better interpretation for てんでんに or てんでんばらばらに in your sentence. – mackygoo May 28 '17 at 4:55
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    Makes absolutely no sense to say "てんで is the short form of てんでんバラバラ or てんでんばらばら". – l'électeur May 29 '17 at 14:23
  • 私は「てんで喋る」や「てんで家に帰る」のような例が存在しない(もちろん定義2の意味で)ことを「てんで」単体で「おのおの」の意味にならない最大の理由に挙げています。で、その部分は「個々喋る」や「勝手過ごす」がなくても「個々まちまちに」や「勝手きままに」が存在するのと同様のパターンだと考えれば矛盾なしに説明できる、という話ですよね。ただそれはあくまで『それでも矛盾なしに説明できる』という話であって、『そうである』という『証明』だと述べるのは、飛躍があるのではないでしょうか。「てんで勝手に」が「まるっきり勝手に」の意味でないとするための積極的な説明が欠けているように思います。なにしろ「てんでバラバラに」と「てんで勝手に」以外の「てんで」の例は、私が見る限り明らかに「まるっきり」とか「全く」という意味なのです。この2つだけを頑張って特例扱いしないといけない理由があるのでしょうか。 – naruto May 31 '17 at 7:50
  • @naruto: 定義1で挙げた「てんで」(肯定的な意味で使う)まるっきりのよな意味で、料理がてんでうまいがnarutoさんにも何か違和感があるような理解だったと思います。この「てんで」の同意語とか類義語を探して分かったことは、否定する内容の文章で使われるものが圧倒的でした。私は編集した答えでは書きませんでしたが、「全然」という本来否定的な文脈で使われる副詞が肯定文で誤用されているケースと同じ状況が肯定的な意味で使われる「てんで」にあるのではないかと推察しております。それよりも副詞が2つ重なったときに前の副詞の語尾がなくなると自然になるという現象はどこかに書いているのでしょうか。 – mackygoo May 31 '17 at 7:51

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