Oftentimes I see phrases such as this in songs and such:


I always interpreted these as the first part all modifying the noun, i.e. "Inside the dream I was lost in," here. However, when I asked a question on this particular song, a user translated this with the subject as separate from the modifier, i.e."I'm within an astray dream." This came as a shock to be, since I've always thought of lines like this the first way.

Are both interpretations correct, or is one of us wrong?

Thank you!

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    when I asked a question on this particular song -- What song? Can you quote the exact phrase with the surrounding lines? I can only find this www5.atwiki.jp/hmiku/pages/17677.html where it says "迷い込んだ夢の中" with no 僕は... – Chocolate Dec 30 '17 at 5:16

It's unnatural to put the 僕は into the could-be modifying clause, i.e "Inside the dream I was lost in" (In that case, it's usually 僕が) unless the dream world is shared with several people and you were lost there unlike others.

So, it's more natural to interpret it as 僕は 夢の中 迷い込んだ ("I wandered into a dream" or "I'm lost (in a maze) in a dream") with the word order inverted or, as someone said, 僕は(自分が)迷い込んだ夢 の中, though this is an unnaturally recursive expression unless there's a particular reason to use.

That said, only the author can know how to interpret the lyrics.


Your parsing is not quite right. Literally, 僕迷い込んだ夢の中 means "I am in a dream I strayed into." Note that it's basically a full, regular sentence except that the last verb だ is omitted. I can say this because, as a general rule, は is a "topic" marker and thus rarely appears in a relative clause. This is a basic rule of relative clauses:

But before we can relativize them, let's replace the topic particle は with the case particle が. Why? Because relative clauses in Japanese don't contain topics, so you need to use the version with が to turn them into relative clauses.

In other words, this sentence is 僕は夢の中だ ("I am in a dream") with a short relative clause 迷い込んだ.

The subject of 迷い込んだ is 僕, which is the same as the main verb, so it's naturally omitted in this case. You can explicitly specify the subject of the relative clause with like: 僕は僕が迷い込んだ夢の中だ or 僕は彼女が迷い込んだ夢の中だ ("I am in a dream she strayed into.")

By contrast, 僕迷い込んだ夢の中 means "middle of the dream I strayed into" (a noun phrase without a main predicate; sentence fragment).


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