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http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/k10011229751000/k10011229751000.html

The sentence containing the 役に立つ in question: お年寄りや体に障害がある人の介護などの役に立つ新しい機械の展示会が東京ビッグサイトで始まりました。

First, my attempt at translation: "On a Tokyo-big-website(???) the exhibition of a new machine, which is useful for nursing the elderly and physically impeded, has begun."

First, I don't really know what to make of this 東京ビッグサイト. It is not the focus of this question, but unfortunately I couldn't make much sense of it (is this really just a "websiteexhibition"???) and therefore its translation is really botched...

So now, let's turn to the thing that really matters: 役に立つ. At first, when I looked at 介護などの役に立つ I wondered about the の connecting the "verb" 役に立つ and the nominal phrase. Then I thought about the fact that 役に立つ, although usually just translated as some kind of special copula "being useful", is actually a phrase consisting of the noun 役 and the verb 立つ. So, if I literally translated this part in isolation 介護などの役に立つ the result would be => "it stands in service of elderly care".

Does 役に立つ work that way? If it did, it would make perfect sense to me because A it expresses the meaning „being of use“ and B it would perfectly suit the usual function of の to make the preceding noun the attributing of the following noun.

  • 3
    Tokyo Big Sight is just the name of an exhibition center. Should be clear from just a google search. – Leebo Nov 21 '17 at 19:07
  • ah okay. Well I just looked up the jisho entries for ビッグサイト and it showed me ビッグ and サイト and I didn't think that it would be a proper noun naming a "site" and not a "site" :D – Narktor Nov 21 '17 at 19:12
  • Are you familiar with "が-の conversion"? See japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/12825/… – mamster Nov 21 '17 at 22:56
  • I don't see any "が-の conversion" in that sentence. – ignorantFid Nov 22 '17 at 14:47
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You'd really want to look at this form of parsing instead. I'm grabbing the entirety of the noun phrase so that you can make sense of the parsing:

介護などの役に立つ新しい機械の展示会

介護 = nursing, caregiving, or, elderly care
など = "or other", "et cetera"
役に立つ = to be useful
新しい = new
機械 = machine
展示会 = exhibition

So here, we're talking about "the exhibition of new machines useful for care-giving and other (related) uses," right?

I might translate the entirety of the sentence to say:

お年寄りや体に障害がある人の介護などの役に立つ新しい機械の展示会が東京ビッグサイトで始まりました。
The exhibition of new machines useful for care-giving etc. of the elderly and disabled individuals has begun at Tokyo Big Sight.

...and with a little leisure:

The exhibition of new technology designed for aiding in elderly and handicapped care-giving has begun at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center.

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