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I have a quick question about a piece of dialogue I'm confused about:-

誰かが止めようと思って止まる程に小さな流れでもない

I think it probably translates to something like "It's not even a small set of events someone can try to stop."

I read that 止める means "to stop something or someone", whereas 止まる means "to stop" more generally, but if my translation is accurate, why is there​ a need to use both 止める and 止まる in the same clause? My guess is "止めようと思って止まる" could be an expression that has a broader meaning.

I hope someone can shed some light on this for me, thanks!

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In fact, there are two clauses in 誰かが止めようと思って止まる, with て as the conjunctive. 止めよう and 止まる each are part of the separate clauses.

The preceding (subordinate) clause 誰かが止めようと思(う) consists of the subject 誰か ("somebody") and the verb phrase 止めようと思(う) ("tries to stop"), where the implied object of 止める is the 流れ ("flow").

The conjunctive て in this case expresses cause-and-effect relationship, like "because".

In the following (main) clause 止まる, there's an implicit subject of the verb 止まる, namely 流れ.

Putting it all together, 誰かが止めようと思って止まる can be translated to:

the flow stops because somebody tries to stop it

If we join it with the rest of the sentence, the translation may look like this:

It is not so small a flow that it stops just because someone tries to stop it.

In case the translation is unclear, the sentence means that the flow (whatever that refers to) is so forceful and overwhelming that some casual attempt by a single person or a few people to stop it wouldn't remotely be able to match it.

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Try reading this with a comma between 誰かが止めようと思って and 止まる程.
Additionally, as if there were quotations around 「誰かが止めよう」.
So:

「誰かが止めよう」と思って、止まる程に小さな流れでもない。
I thought that someone should stop it, but it wasn't such a small course that would go so far as to stop.

I think this translation of mine has some slightly poor word choice, but going on the meaning of 程 as 'limit' or 'extent' I'm translating 止まる程 as meaning "to go so far as to stop".

Please note that the quotations and the comma are for the sake of grouping a thought and giving pacing that might ease the understanding, but how it is written is correct.

  • I'm not sure but I think the parsing is (誰かが+止めようと)思って、止まる程に小さな流れでもない。I think 誰かが思って止まるほどに小さな流れでもない is also natural. – mackygoo Jun 13 '17 at 21:40
  • I like this answer. It's also worth mentioning that the 止まる and 止める are "to stop" but one is intransitive and the other is transitive so there's a different subject for those two clauses (one subject is someone/something that's thinking about stopping something, the other is the thing to be stopped). That explains why both words are used. – tcallred Jun 13 '17 at 22:51
  • @mackygoo I'd be inclined to agree, but when I read this the first thing I see is a thought that is being thought in the structure ~と思う. If it were structured 「誰かが止めようと」思って, my thought would be that the translation would then be "Thinking that someone ought to stop it, ..." but then the rest of the sentence does not quite line up naturally. – psosuna Jun 13 '17 at 23:28
  • Actually, it would be useful if OP @ginsavenher provided some additional dialogue to add to context :) – psosuna Jun 13 '17 at 23:33
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誰かが止めようと思って止まる程に小さな流れでもない

This phrase seems to imply certain big movement you can't stop, even if you try to stop, as the stream of a river.

I think the parsing of the phrase is as:

-(その川の流れは、)小さな流れでもない
  the movement of the stream is not small
-(その川の流れは、)止まる程に + 小さな流れでもない
  the movement of the stream is not so small as to be stopped
-(その川の流れは、)誰かが思って + 止まる程に小さな流れでもない
  the movement of the stream is not so small as to be stopped as someone thinks
-(その川の流れは、)誰かが + 止めようと思って + 止まる程に小さな流れでもない
  the movement of the stream is not so small as to be stopped as someone thinks to try to stop it

  1. 止めようと思って止まる
  2. could be an expression that has a broader meaning.

As you guess, we often use AAAと思ってAAAとなる程BBBでは(/でも)ない like phrases to describe the enomous degree of BBB like:

  • 動かそうと思って動かせない程 [重たい]{LLL} 物だった
  • 動かそうと思って動かせる程 [軽い]{LL} 物で [は]{L} なかった
  • 解こうと思って解けない程難しい問題である
  • 解こうと思って解ける程簡単な問題ではない
  • 走ろうと思って走れない程足が重たかった
  • 走ろうと思って走れる程足は軽くはなかった
  • 逃げようと思って逃げられない程塀は高かった
  • 逃げようと思って逃げられる程塀は低くはなかった
  • 入ろうと思って入れない程警戒が厳重である
  • 入ろうと思って入れる程警戒が甘くはなかった

We also use phrases like:

  • 動かそうにも動かせない程重たい物だった
  • 解こうにも解けない程難しい問題である
  • 走ろうにも走れない程足が重たかった
  • 逃げようにも逃げられない程塀は高かった
  • 入ろうにも入れない程警戒が厳重である

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