1

I need some help with a bit of the Japanese-English translation I'm currently working on. Here is the full Japanese sentence:

返事をした女の子がこちらに近づき、僕の手にナイフを握{にぎ}らせる。

The following is the bit of what I need help with translating in the context of the above sentence:

ナイフを握{にぎ}らせる。

The second section directly translates to:

僕の手 - "my hand"

に - particle that represent direction of movement

ナイフ - "knife"

を - particle that means the knife is being affected by following verb event

握{にぎ}らせる - to let (someone) take hold of your hand/ grasp/ seize - verb.

Which all together translates to the following when strung together in a sentence:

my hand is taken hold of by (someone) knife is grasped in my hand.

I'm having trouble conveying the action while using only the words/meanings that are provided in the original which I have managed to translate as:

The girl’s response was to approach me, take hold of my hand knife appears in my grasped hand.

From what I know of the context, the knife is being placed? given? to the POV character by the girl before it is grasped, which is not shown in the given Japanese or translation. As pointed out in mindful's comment, the translation for

[僕の手にナイフを握{にぎ}らせる]

is more or less "made me grip the knife in my hand".
However, my understanding of the translated context would be that the translation would be the equivalent of “the girl grasps my hand, knife appears in my grasped hand".

Is it possible for me to translate this to

"The girl’s response is to approach me, take hold of my hand and places in my hand a knife."

while using only the words/meanings that are provided in the original Japanese?

  • You should be thinking of にぎらせる as "made grasp," as in "made my hands grasp the knife." Have you studied causative and passive forms? Dictionaries might give definitions for certain common usages, but you really need to know the grammar. – Kurausukun Dec 26 '17 at 3:08
  • No I have not studied causative and passive forms, as I'm a beginner and I only have completed one basic Japanese I class, which only had enough time to introduce me to Hiragana, katakana, the past and present tenses of basic verbs and adjectives, and a little bit more before the semester ended. Do you have any suggestions for self study regarding the various forms of Japanese grammar that a beginner can understand? Edit: would "The girl’s response was to approach me, take hold of my hand and make my hand grasp a knife." work as a translation, or is there a better way to word it? – Toyu_Frey Dec 26 '17 at 3:20
  • Is it possible for me to translate 返事をした女の子がこちらに近づき、僕の手にナイフを握(にぎ)らせる as "The girl’s response is to approach me, take hold of my hand and makes my hand grasp a knife." -- No. It means " The girl who responded approaches me, and makes my hand(s) grasp the/a knife." – Chocolate Dec 26 '17 at 17:28
0

First of all, as Kurasukun said, I think that understanding the grammar here is what will really make the difference. Most of the constructs used here are relatively straightforward as long as you know what they are, so I'll try and provide reading for each relevant construct.

返事をした女の子

This is "the girl who responded". In this case, 「返事をした」 is a subordinate clause describing 「女の子」. Tae Kim has a pretty good explanation of how subordinate clauses are used to modify nouns here. The particularly relevant section is Using relative verb clauses as adjectives.

がこちらに近づき

I think your understanding of this part is fine; it's talking about the girl coming closer to the speaker, with 「こちらに」 meaning "in the speaker's direction" and 「近づき」 meaning "to come closer".

僕の手にナイフを握{にぎ}らせる

So this is the tricky part. Tae Kim has an explanation of causative verb usage here which I think is worth reading (specifically the section Causative Verbs). Knowing what you are looking at will help you parse it.

That said, the way that I would think about this is that the actual action is 「僕の手にナイフを握る」, meaning "grip the knife in my hand". Then, because the verb 握る is conjugated into the causative 握らせる, it becomes "lets/makes (me) grip the knife in my hand".

As for a translation of the whole sentence, keeping it fairly literal I would say something like:

The girl who responded comes closer, and makes me grip the knife in my hand.

  • 1
    The original sentence is in the present tense. – l'électeur Dec 26 '17 at 14:16
  • I think that "The girl’s response is to approach me, take hold of my hand and made my hand grasp a knife." might be a better translation considering the context as the speaker does not have a knife in his hand until the girl approaches him, grabs his hand then places a knife in it for him to grasp... I don't know which translation is correct, as my purpose for posting the question in the first place is due to the [僕の手にナイフを握る] part. – Toyu_Frey Dec 26 '17 at 16:40
  • @l'électeur You're totally right, I don't know why I translated into past tense - that's a little embarrassing. Thanks. – Mindful Dec 27 '17 at 0:59
  • @Toyu_Frey First of all, as l'électeur pointed out, the sentence isn't in past tense. I spaced out on that one. As for the translation, I would be reluctant to do "The girl's response is...". I think this would look something more like [ – Mindful Dec 27 '17 at 1:08
  • @Mindful "more like [ - " what? I've already fixed the past tense and changed my possible translation to "The girl’s response is to approach me, take hold of my hand and place in my hand a knife." which does not really flow all that well, but it sticks to the original Japanese. – Toyu_Frey Dec 27 '17 at 1:15
0

返事をした女の子がこちらに近づき、僕の手にナイフを握らせる。

This means "The girl who responded approached me, and put a knife in my hand." [1]

握る is the verb used for clasping, gripping things with a hand. It is the natural verb to use for a knife.

Given the context posted here, it's clear that the narrator just woke up, and nowhere in the story is a knife mentioned before, so the knife is not his nor in his hand nor within his reach.

[1] Nitpickers: I have "approached" and "put" in the past tense here because fiction flows better that way in English to me.

  • as l'eleteur pointed out in their own comment above, wouldn't <返事をした女の子が be in present tense, thereby making the translation "After responding the girl approaches me, and places a knife in my hand." or "After responding the girl approaches me, and places in my hand a knife to grasp." ? – Toyu_Frey Dec 28 '17 at 19:34
  • 2
    @Toyu_Frey In Japanese narrative, we often use present tense to describe past events/actions more vividly and lively... It's a rhetorical devise called 史的現在 (historical present), which I mentioned in chat two days ago: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/41958887#41958887 So, in English narrative is it unusual to use present tense to describe actions/events that happened in the past, like we do in Japanese? – Chocolate Dec 29 '17 at 8:50
  • 1
    P.S. Here's the Wiki article on "史的現在/historical present": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_present – Chocolate Dec 29 '17 at 9:00
  • @Chocolate In response to your question, as far as I'm aware with my scant amount of reading English fiction over the years, yes, it is unusual, but not unheard of for writers to use present tense to refer to actions in the past, although it mostly depends on the author's chosen style of writing. – Toyu_Frey Dec 30 '17 at 0:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.