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This is an extract from a piece of fiction:

基本的に『除隊』は『レベル・ゼロ』という特殊牢送りを指す『The Tower』において、彼が職を辞すには正式に引退する必要があったのだ。

I am having a bit of trouble understanding what "送りを指す" means in this context and it's not a phrase I've come across yet in my studies. How is it being used here?

From my attempt at a translation, I think it would be something like:

Basically, as for a "discharge from military service" it was necessary to officially retire in order to quite his job at "The Tower" [送りを指す] which is special prison called "Level Zero".

So what could the 送りを指す mean?

To me the best I can think is:

Selected to be sent

Which doesn't seem to fit in the sentence at all. I think there's a possibility it's some sort of set phrase that can't be translated too literally since I've seen a lot of that in Japanese. But if someone could clarify that would be awesome, I'm really curious about what the extract is actually saying!

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    You are parsing the sentence incorrectly. There is no such set phrase as 「送りを指す」. Instead, look at 「特殊牢送り」 as a noun phrase. As for 「指す」, I suggest that you look it up in a monolingual dictionary if you are already reading something like this in Japanese. – l'électeur Jun 12 '17 at 1:05
  • The whole sentence defies my parsing... unless it's actually two sentences, with a period after 指す. – goldbrick Jun 12 '17 at 21:43
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    @goldbrick 「『The Tower』では、基本的に『除隊』は『レベル・ゼロ』という特殊牢送りのことを指す。」と「『The Tower』において、彼が職を辞すには正式に引退する必要があったのだ。」がくっついた文やと思てました – Chocolate Jun 13 '17 at 3:46
  • @Chocolate ぉお・・・ 解ったあとに見直したら馬鹿みたいになんてことない文ですね・・・ ありがとうございます。 Please forget about my comment above. – goldbrick Jun 13 '17 at 22:26
  • @goldbrick この文がなんかヘンに見えるのは「除隊が」ではなく「除隊は」になってるからなのかなー、と。修飾節内で「は」はあまり出てこないので。説明しろと言われたら「引退と除隊を対照させているcontrastive-waだから」と言うしかないんでしょうが。 – naruto Jun 14 '17 at 15:30
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基本的に『除隊』は『レベル・ゼロ』という特殊牢送りを指す『The Tower』において、彼が職を辞すには正式に引退する必要があったのだ。

See the other answer for what 特殊牢送り means. Here, 送り itself means the action of sending (see this answer). 牢屋送り is a relatively common set phrase meaning imprisonment. Everything before "The Tower" is a relative clause that modifies "The Tower". So the whole sentence means:

In The Tower, where "discharge" basically meant being cast into a special prison called Level Zero, he had to officially retire in order to quit his job.

  • I think this is the more correct translation and usage of the phrasing that OP is asking, per putting together the pieces of information from all the answers given – psosuna Jun 14 '17 at 0:16
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特殊牢送りを指す

This is parsed as others said as:
特殊牢送り + を + 指す

指{さ}す is a verb that means to indecate or mean something.

特殊{とくしゅ}牢{ろう}送{おく}り is a combined noun made of 特殊牢{とくしゅろう} and 送{おく}り.
特殊牢{とくしゅろう} is a contraction of 特殊{とくしゅ}な牢屋{ろうや}, where 特殊な meanas specil and 牢屋 means jail/prison", so 特殊牢 means a specila jail.

AAA送{おく}り means to be sent to AAA, where AAA is a special place which usually, but not always, has a nuance of the last place after being given a decision.

特殊牢送りを指す means, as a whole, it/this/that indicates to be sent to a special jail.

Examples of AAA送{おく}り:

  • 検察{けんさつ}庁{ちょう}送り to be sent to Public Prosecutor's Office
  • 東京{とうきょう}送りの品{しな} goods to be sent to Tokyo
  • 爆殺{ばくさつ}奈落{ならく}送りの術{じゅつ} martial arts like killing with a bomb that sends someone to hades
  • 異界{いかい}送り to be sent to the underworld/ spirit world
  • 黄泉{よみ}送り to be sent to the world of the dead
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まず、日本に住んでいて‘’特殊牢送り‘’という言葉を使った事がありません。 タイピングで変換にすら出てきません。

ちなみに、使い方は‘’牢送りを指す‘’ではなく単に‘’指す‘’ですが、「〇〇を指す」という感じで使います。

英語だと、「If you say "boot" in the southern US, it refers to the trunk of a car.」 「アメリカの南部では「boot」と言ったら、車のトランクのことを指す。」みたいな感じで使います。

  • そういう使えば、「~を指す」っての意味は、別の意味を付けるという出そうだけど、あるいは、「特殊牢送り」="Sending to a special jail"の意味を付けてるんじゃありませんか? – psosuna Jun 14 '17 at 0:12

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