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意味がわからない I know can mean, 'I don't understand', and, 'This makes no sense to me.' But in what circumstances can you use this to say something equivalent to, 'I don't agree with that'?

I realise this is dealt with in another post but it wasn't the main topic of discussion, so I would like to address the question directly here. Can anyone point to any dictionary entries etc. that support this translation, 'I don't agree with that'?

The reason I ask is I went with this translation in a text and a professional translator corrected it to, 'This makes no sense to me'.

I am curious about which translation is appropriate in which circumstances. Thank you.

Edit:

This page http://eikaiwa.dmm.com/uknow/questions/1107/ for example gives 'I don't agree' as a possible translation. Also, in a previous thread in this exchange the same suggestion was made.

I realise this post might come across as egotistical. But my purpose is to understand the Japanese phrase, not to support a justification of my translation. I apologise for the poor wording of my question. I will be more careful in future.

  • 3
    I believe that 納得{なっとく}はできない is a more customary way of saying that you don't agree. Since わかる is about understanding, I'm not sure why you would think it could be construed to be about agreement. Perhaps you could provide more context so we might be able to see why you felt your translation was justified. – A.Ellett Aug 16 '17 at 0:35
  • Not exactly. My translation might have been wrong and she is much better qualified than me. I'm more curious about whether it can be used both ways - what examples it can be used one way, and what examples another way. I'm trying to deepen my knowledge of Japanese. – Robert Aug 16 '17 at 0:37
  • I'm more interested in the Japanese. Implied meaning of English phrases are a separate matter for me. – Robert Aug 16 '17 at 1:20
  • To clarify: I'm curious as to the intrinsic meaning of the Japanese phrase and to what extent it overlaps with certain English phrases rather than to what extent various English phrases overlap with each other. – Robert Aug 16 '17 at 1:38
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意味がわからない

日本語

これは、主に、
「話し相手」の取った態度(言った言葉を含む)が全く納得できないあるいは全くの想定外であるときに不快感をもって若干「独り言風に」言います。

English

This is mostly said almost in a monologue manner to express your deep discomfort or disgust to the attitude (including the words uttered) which you cannot accept or be convinced or to the unexpected one by the person you are talking to.

日本語

解説:

English

Note:

日本語

  • 主に「話し相手」と言いましたが、会話に参加していない人の態度に対して言うこともあります。

English

  • This phrase could be said to the attitude of a person also not participating in the conversation.

日本語

  • 「独り言風に」言うと言いましたが、不快感を投げつけるために相手に聞こえるように言うこともあります。

English

  • It could be said to the partner also in a loud voice to express your deep discomfort strongly.

日本語

  • この言葉は主に若い女性が言います。

English

  • Young women use this phrase mainly.

日本語

  • 追加 若い女性の言葉に限定すると、「意味わかんないし!」あるいは landoneppsさんのコメントにあった「意味わかんない」の方が私が説明した「意味がわからない」という気持ちをもっと若い女性が表現するのに更に向いているように思います。

追加

English

  • EDIT: As only for young women, 意味わかんないし! or 意味わかんない which is introduced by landonepps's comment is more suitable than 意味がわからない to express the feeling of younger women to express the meaning in my answer.

EDIT

日本語

「意味がわからない」を、次のように理解すると本質的な意味が理解できると思います。

English

If you intepret "意味がわからない" as the following sentences, you could understand the intrinsic meaning of it in Japanese better.

日本語

なんであなたがそのようなことを言うのかあるいはそのような態度をとるのか私には「意味がわからない」。私はあなたの言葉や態度が全く理解できません、いや、理解したくありません

English

I don't understand why you say such a thing or take such an attitude. I cannot understand your words or attitude at all, no, I do not want to understand them!.

  • So you're saying, if I read your post correctly, the usual purpose of the phrase is to dispute someone's attitude rather than merely state you do not understand? Also, it can express discomfort at something being contrary to your expectations? Moreover, this often has a feel (slightly) of talking to yourself? – Robert Aug 16 '17 at 1:17
  • @Robert: The first two interepretations are correct. As for the last one, somewhat yes; may be it depends on the context. Anyway I posted my English translation. I hope it would not confuse you. – mackygoo Aug 16 '17 at 1:38
  • or you can also use 解せない(incomprehensible) – FrozenFire Aug 16 '17 at 5:26
  • @FrozenFire: Yes, 「解せない(incomprehensible)」も使えますね。このフレーズは若い女性ではなく、同様の状況で若者ではなく年配の男性が独り言のように使う場合にふさわしいと思います。 – mackygoo Aug 16 '17 at 5:43
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Haha, I think I can answer it.

It depends on the context. Your translation can be possible in the context, in which "it makes no sense to me" means "I don't agree with it."

"I don't know what you're talking about " has, for example, the same phenomena, right? The literal translation is one thing and what is implied is another. :)

  • 1
    I asked one of my former students if her sister was dating a guy they were with, and she responded, "意味わかんない." I took that to mean something like "I don't know what you're talking about." as in "Of course they're not dating." – landonepps Aug 16 '17 at 1:21
  • 若い女性が口癖のように使う"意味わかんない"は、意味不明なことも多いです。However, in your context, she might have said, "That's none of your business." She might express the distasteful tone. – user1118 Aug 16 '17 at 9:16
  • ちょっと言葉足らずに思えますね。聞いた限りでは何について「意味が分からない」のか判断に困ります。「(なんでそんなこと聞くのか)意味が分からない」?「(なんでそんな結論が出てくるのか)意味が分からない」? – Cong Hui Aug 16 '17 at 13:10
  • @landonepps when I hear 意味わかんない I almost always get the gist of it meaning "I don't know how you arrived at that conclusion" in the sense of "I don't understand (why you are asking me this)" – psosuna Aug 16 '17 at 21:52
  • @Seesawscene She laughed and then explained that he was alone so they let him tag along. So I feel like if she meant, "That's none of your business," it was in a joking manner. I'm not a native speaker, so I defer to your judgement, but I feel like she was trying to express that my suggestion they were dating was unbelievable. – landonepps Aug 17 '17 at 4:12

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