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もうそんな寒さかと島村は外を眺めると、鉄道の官舎らしいバラックが山裾に寒々と散らばっているだけで、雪の色はそこまで行かぬうちに闇に呑まれていた。

I understand the meaning of dake and the te form; that is not my problem. My problems has to do with how dake de in this case can connect to what follows. How do you put this into a single sentence in English? Perhaps you can't, which is why the translation of the text I have makes two sentences here. So my question deals not with the grammar (or the meaning of dake and te) but the sense of how the Japanese connects these two elements.

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    Welcome to JLSE! The object of this site it to help learners gain a grasp of the language. This is not a page intended for bulk translation. Unfortunately, this question may get closed, but if you edit the question to show what you have done to grasp the meaning of the sentence, we will be able to assist you better. See:japanese.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic Also see:japanese.meta.stackexchange.com/a/799/22352 – ajsmart Aug 21 '17 at 16:57
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    To avoid getting closed, I would recommend you start by giving us your best attempt at translating the sentence (or its parts). – A.Ellett Aug 21 '17 at 18:54
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This で is a simple connector. You may know te-form can be a reason marker, but this で is nothing more than simple and. The sentence basically says Shimamura only saw a few shacks, snow and darkness when he looked out of the window. At least in this case, I think the translator could have translated this sentence naturally without splitting it into two. But when to split a sentence is basically at the discretion of each translator, and there are times splitting a sentence can be a reasonable option. Japanese sentences can be incredibly long if multiple で and だが/けれど are used.


Original Answer:

The full context (from 雪国 by 川端康成):

 向側の座席から娘が立って来て、島村の前のガラス窓を落とした。雪の冷気が流れ込んだ。娘は窓いっぱいに乗り出して、遠くへ叫ぶように、 「駅長さあん、駅長さあん。」
 明りをさげてゆっくり雪を踏んで来た男は、襟巻で鼻の上まで包み、耳に帽子の毛皮を垂れていた。
 もうそんな寒さかと島村は外を眺めると、鉄道の官舎らしいバラックが山裾に寒々と散らばっているだけで、雪の色はそこまで行かぬうちに闇に呑まれていた。

だけ means "only", and this で is the continuative form (or te-form) of the copula だ. In this context, it means all he could saw was バラック's (or shacks). Similar examples:

  • 見ているだけです。 I'm just watching.
  • 聞いただけで、信じてはいない。 I only heard about it, I don't believe it.
  • この部屋には椅子があるだけで、他には何もない。 In this room, there is only a chair, nothing else.

Please don't clip a sentence unless you absolutely know what you're doing. It's hard to explain the true meaning of this だけで without the part you clipped.

  • I understand why you put my question on hold since you thought I didn't know what dake de means grammatically. Of course, I do. The problem for me is not the syntactical structure but how dake de in this case can connect to what follows. The examples Naruto gives do not apply here as far as meaning goes. How do you put this into a single sentence. The translation of the text I have makes two sentences here as the only way to turn this sentence into English. So my question deals not with the grammar but the sense of how the Japanese connects these two elements. – Robert Aug 23 '17 at 5:39
  • @Robert I'm not the one who cast the close vote, but you seem to be misunderstanding why your question was closed. You failed to clarify what you already knew and your actual problem when you first asked this --- and even after two people pointed that out. (And that's why I posted a pointless answer... please do not blame me for this) In case you did know, you could have edited (and you can still edit) your question to clarify what you really want. This comment section is not the right place to complain. – naruto Aug 23 '17 at 8:17
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    Naruto, I am not blaming you for anything. On the contrary, I appreciate the time you took to answer my question. I hope I have clarified it now and put it in the right place. I'm not yet used to navigating this website. – Robert Aug 23 '17 at 9:23
  • @Robert I cast a reopen vote. (I cannot guarantee this will get reopened, though) – naruto Aug 23 '17 at 9:36

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