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The following exchange occurs in Volume 3, Chapter 51 of the manga ReLife.

The sequence of events is: A girl told a guy that she saw him a year or two ago and it was love at first sight. She describes seeing him being nice to a customer during his work. Then she asks him if he has a girlfriend. He says no and she continues below:

あたしが新太{あらた}君の彼女になりたいです・・・って言ったら
アリ・・・ナシ?

今すぐの話じゃなくてもいいの
可能性の話でもいいの

I'm having difficulty with the second part. My current understanding is something like:

Literally:
It's fine if you don't have a response right now.
It's fine if the response is that there is a possibility.

Figuratively:
You don't have to answer right now. Just letting me know there's a possibility is good enough.

I'm interested in the use of 話 above. I've seen 話 used like this quite often and have never fully understood it. Is 話 a synonym for 答え in this case or does it mean something else (perhaps it implies that two people are talking rather than just one person answering...)? Also, I'm surprised to see 話 modified directly by 可能性の. I would have expected something like 可能性のことの話 (I'm not sure why). Is that incorrect or unnatural?

I'm also confused about 今すぐの. As far as I understand, 今すぐ is a 副動詞 (adverb) and describes when a 動詞 (verb) occurred. Here, it seems to be being treated as a 名詞 (noun) and is modifying 話. Am I missing something here?

Also, as if to simply further my confusion, the fan translation is essentially opposite what I expected:

Fan Translation
I'd like to hear your answer as soon as possible.
I'd like you to decide now.

Is that a valid translation? Thank you for reading through all these questions.

  • I'm having difficulty understanding who's saying what. I also feel like a bit more context might help. – A.Ellett Aug 18 '17 at 20:37
  • I added the sequence of events leading up to it. Please let me know if anything is still unclear. – G-Cam Aug 18 '17 at 20:50
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First, that fan translation is (mostly) wrong.

話 is not a synonym for response/reply, but it refers to the whole discussion that is taking place. ~の話じゃない means "We are not talking about ~; This is not a matter of ~", and ~の話じゃなくていい means "We don't have to talk about ~; This conversation doesn't necessarily have to be about ~."

今すぐ is a standalone adverb, but it also works as a plain no-adjective (in other words, a plain noun). Many words work similarly. For example, 突然言う = to say suddenly, 突然の発言 = sudden statement, 絶対違う = absolutely wrong, 絶対に違う = absolutely wrong, 絶対の自信 = absolute confidence.

So 今すぐの話じゃなくていい means "We don't have to talk about doing something immediately," "I'm not asking you to do something immediately," "You don't have to decide right now," "It's not urgent," or something similar. "彼女になりたいですって言ったらアリ?" sounds like an obvious 告白 (See: Kokuhaku: Japan's "Love Confessing" Culture), and this normally means she is asking for him to be in an exclusive relationship immediately. This is clearly too much in this situation where the guy even does not know who she is. By 今すぐの話じゃなくていい, she's saying she doesn't want such an important decision right now. She does want to talk with him right now, does want some answer, but his answer could be whether there is any chance in the future. Your figurative translation seems perfect to me, after all.

可能性の話, literally "matter of possibilities", makes perfect sense, and 可能性のことの話 sounds fairly awkward to me.

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According to the website 国語文法 (under the heading 連体修飾語になる), 【副詞】 (adverbs) can modify 【体言】 (non-inflected words, i.e nouns) in some cases. This is called 【連体修飾語】(modifier of an uninflected word), and can happen when the adverbs are in isolation or before 【の】.

Adverbs don't only modify verbs in English either. However, they modify noun phrases (i.e "I saw only the mailman") and similar grammatical structures in these cases, and not nouns by themselves ("I saw only mailman", which is not correct).

To follow this, I think it's important to remember that there isn't always a one-to-one conversion between languages and therefore we assume our adverb is the same as 【副詞】, which isn't really the case. This is one example of that, but another one is the concept of の-adjectives (縦じまのシャツ ➡ "vertical-striped shirt"), where some nouns are erratically listed as "の-adjectives" under some dictionaries and not others, when there really is no such thing. It's just one of the functions of の and works with any nouns as long as it, in essence, makes sense for the noun to describe the other noun in some way.

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    英語では、adverb は noun/pronoun を修飾しませんか? (almost everyone とか the day before とかどうなんでしょう。。) – Chocolate Aug 19 '17 at 1:45
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    @Chocolate いい質問です。考えもなかったんだ。 調べた結果としてそのことについて様々な意見があります。それはadjectiveではありませんかとかquantifierではありませんかとかでも事実上ではChocolateは正しいと思います。G-Camへの答えをあとで修正します。 – Amerain Aug 19 '17 at 11:07
  • 教えてくれてありがとうございます。^^ – Chocolate Aug 19 '17 at 13:55
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The first two lines seem rather blunt to me. I might be misconstruing that part. It would make more sense to me if this were her own private inner thoughts. But, I'm inclined to agree more with your take on the matter than the fan translation (your approach seems more faithful to the Japanese).

Nevertheless, I would construe 話 as "something to talk about". So, the final two lines I would translate as

[This] isn't something [that needs] to be talked about right now.
Even if it were just a conversation about the possibility, would be fine.

Notice that I've put [square brackets] around the parts where I've embellished the translation a bit. Though probably a more faithful translation of the first line would be:

It's fine if we don't talk about it right now.

What I'd like to point out that, even in English, it's still clear that she wants an answer. We don't have to force the translation of 話 into "response" or "answer" to understand what's at the core of what she's saying.

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    「今すぐの話」の理解が少し違っていると思います。「今すぐ(彼女になってくれという意味)の話ではなく、(将来的に彼女になれる)可能性の話でもいい」です。あるいは「今すぐ決めろという意味ではない」でもいいと思います。 – naruto Aug 18 '17 at 22:16
  • @naruto Argh. Then I guess I'm over my head. While that makes a lot better sense to me, I can't quite wrap my head around how you get that from the quoted text. I guess what I'm getting hung up on then is how your treatment of 話じゃなくてもいい seems to completely lose the もいい part. – A.Ellett Aug 18 '17 at 22:22
  • 普通の告白なら今すぐsteadyな「付き合い」が始まるのですが、これは日本人にとってかなり重たくて即答が難しい話です。だから代わりに、将来のチャンスがあるかだけ教えてほしい、ただしそれを今すぐ教えて欲しい。…という感じですね。 – naruto Aug 18 '17 at 22:42

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