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All the dictionaries that I checked translate 象徴 as "symbol". However, is it also possible that in certain contexts 象徴 means "indication" or "omen"? The reason I'm asking is because I'm struggling with a sentence that contains this word and I'm pretty sure it would make absolutely no sense to translate it as "symbol".

For example, the sentence in the link below:

https://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1337988533

It seems to me like the author uses 象徴 in the sense of "indications" or "signs".

  • "It seems to me like the author uses 象徴 in the sense of ..." I'm not sure if it's an authoritative usage example. Why don't you provide the sentence you are actually struggling with? – macraf Aug 1 '17 at 6:44
  • Alright. It's written like an encyclopedia entry but it's from a video game: ドラキュラ城 ドラキュラの復活と共によみがえる、ドラキュラの魔力の象徴。 1999年に、白馬神社の協力により日食に封印された。 2035年の日本での皆既日食で新たな城主を求めるが、失敗。 いずれ魔王となるものが、その力を引き継ぐのであろうか…。I'm not sure what kind of information "ドラキュラの魔力の象徴" is supposed to convey, – maboroshi Aug 6 '17 at 10:55
  • For me it looks like a description of a castle which was a symbol. I don't know where you got idea of "omen" from. – macraf Aug 6 '17 at 11:15
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I think the Chiebukuro question can be straightforwardly translated using symbol as "What is the thing that is considered as the symbol of the disaster of the ice age?" This 象徴/symbol is used in the same manner as "The lion is a symbol of courage."

By indicator/sign/omen, do you mean "a precursor that happens before some bad event"? Then, no, that's not what 象徴 means. 象徴 never refers to something that portends an important event. Omen is usually translated as 予兆 or 前兆 in Japanese, but not 象徴.

By the way, I think the correct answer of this chiebukuro question should be "甲鱗のワーム/Scaled Wurm from Magic: The Gathering. In the Japanese version of the flavor text of this card, "they embodied the worst of the Ice Age" has been translated as 氷河期の災厄の象徴だった. Apparently 氷河期の災厄の象徴 is famous among Japanese MTG fans as a nickname of this creature. This user has asked some other MTG-related questions.

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  • 「氷河期の災厄の象徴」という言葉遣いが妙だなと思っておりました。narutoさんの調査力、推察力に感心しました。 – mackygoo Aug 1 '17 at 12:36
  • @mackygoo 知恵袋って文中の単語を見て自動で質問のカテゴリを決めようとするので(変更はできますがしない人もいる)、「科学」カテゴリにゲームの設定に関する質問がある、みたいなことが平然と起きるんですよね… – naruto Aug 2 '17 at 6:25
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氷河期の災厄の象徴

Since the questioner of this article does not seem to understand the words 災厄 and 象徴 so accurately, the OP's interpretation as "indications" or "signs" for 象徴 is correct.

I interpret it as "typical examples" or "representative examples".

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