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才能を隠すのにも卓越した才能がいる。

This is a translation of a quote from Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales. The original text is as follows:

C'est une grande habilité que de savoir cacher son habileté.

I tried to translate this with the help of jisho.org.

  • 才能を隠すの - hiding talents
  • にも - also
  • 卓越した - excellent
  • 才能 - talent
  • いる - ???

So the whole sentence is something like "Being able to hide talents is also an excellent talent".

However, I don't understand why いる is used here. I would've just put a だ there because the sentence is stating that something is something else. If using an existence verb here is correct, why isn't ある used? I'm sure talents are inanimate.

  • いる as in 要る maybe? I'm not sure. See jisho.org/search/要る – ajsmart Jul 20 '17 at 3:00
  • @ajsmart 要る means need/want though. How does that fit in this context. The sentence is not saying that the talent of hiding your talents is needed/wanted, is it? – Sweeper Jul 20 '17 at 3:02
  • Hence this isn't an answer. I think the key to understanding this one is in ...のにも... As I am not sure how to parse it, or if you have parsed it correctly. – ajsmart Jul 20 '17 at 3:06
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There are several different verbs with the same reading いる. This one is 要る in kanji, and it means "to be necessary".

  • 居る【いる】: to be, to exist (used for animate objects)
  • 要る【いる】: to be required, to be necessary
  • 入る【いる】: to enter (usually read as はいる)
  • 煎る【いる】: to roast
  • 射る【いる】: to shoot (with an arrow)

入る is uncommon and literary, but 居る and 要る are both common and usually written in hiragana. So you need to guess from the context which いる is used. It's easy in this case because 才能 is not a living thing.

The whole sentence means "Talent is needed also to hide your talent."

  • Oh, jisho.org says 要る is "to need", but 要る is an intransitive verb and the word usage is totally different. – naruto Jul 20 '17 at 6:20
  • Perhaps they're trying (and failing) to make it more understandable for people that don't have the best grasp on what transitive and intransitive verbs are. – Kurausukun Jul 20 '17 at 6:50
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I am a Japanese.

As naruto san answered, いる means "to be required" here, not "to exist." So you cannot use ある in this sentence.

We have a proverb 能ある鷹は爪を隠す. The meaning is that talented person hides the talent. Japanese people do not think it to be very nice to show off talent.

I guess that 才能を隠すのにも卓越した才能がいる this sentence follows or indicates the proverb above. The meaning is that Hiding the talent also requires excelled talent.

If the author of this sentence is not aware of the proverb, he/she might write this as 才能を隠すのはまた卓越した才能だ, as you thought. This is literally correct.

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