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I want to make sure I'm interpreting the following sentence properly:

「三倍の代金を払ってコーヒーを買うくらいなら、水道の水を飲んでいた方がましだ」と言ったマンフレッドがもしもまだベルリンにいたら、また口{くち}喧{げん}嘩{か}になっていたかもしれない。

To give some context, in the previous sentence, the narrator remarks that it is regrettable that the main character, Mamoru, did not go to the expensive grocery store the day before since it was the only one that was open. In the sentence I'm attempting to understand, 「マンフレッド」refers to Manfred, ostensibly Mamoru's former lover.

Anyway, my initial rough translation was:

If Manfred -- who once said, "If you're paying three times the price for coffee, you ought to be drinking tap water" -- were still in Berlin, we probably would have gotten into another argument.

This immediately made no sense to me, but after thinking over it for awhile, it occurred to me that what it might actually mean is:

If Manfred -- who once remarked, "If the water is three times the price of a cup of coffee, you ought to be drinking it from the tap" -- were still in Berlin, we probably would've gotten into another argument.

The second sentence makes much more sense to me, but also implies that the author is potentially talking about the store selling expensive bottled water despite not saying that explicitly.

Any help clarifying the meaning would be appreciated. Thanks.

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    Where from the original do you get "If the water is three times the price of a cup of coffee"? The original explicitly states that the coffee costs three times as much. – l'électeur Jul 9 '17 at 2:48
  • Right, but what does coffee costing three times as much have to do with drinking tap water? That's what I don't get. – TFlo83 Jul 9 '17 at 2:55
  • A couple sentences before, the narrator mentions that his refrigerator is totally empty and he has neither coffee nor milk. So now I'm thinking it's like "If it's to the point that you're paying three times as much for coffee, you might as well just drink tap water." I think I get it now. Thanks. – TFlo83 Jul 9 '17 at 3:02
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Coffee (and probably other items too) in that expensive grocery store costs three times as much as in other stores that were not open on that day. So Mamoru didn't go to that store and now his fridge is empty. He is thinking: "Manfred once said 'I'd rather drink tap water than buy the expensive coffee from that store' (when other stores were closed before), so if he were still here, we would have gotten into another argument if I had bought, or tried to buy coffee/groceries from that grocery store yesterday."

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    Yes, I think I finally got the meaning. Thank you. – TFlo83 Jul 9 '17 at 3:30
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Your first interpretation is correct.

I suspect it was because of Manfred that Mamoru didn't go to the store, and there were no other store open, and the incident might have caused their argument. Then I think the story makes sense. No?

  • No, because Manfred is no longer in Berlin when this happens. Mamoru is talking about what might have happened if Manfred were in Berlin. – TFlo83 Jul 9 '17 at 2:57

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