For full context: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/k10011273631000/k10011273631000.html

The sentence in question: 水族館は、オウサマペンギンが外で散歩をすることができるのは気温が低くなる冬だけなので、いい運動になると言っています。

My attempt at translation: Literal: "Concerning the aquarium, concerning that the penguins can take a walk outside, they say that it becomes a good physical exercise,because there is the alone temperature-lowering-winter." More elegant: "The aquarium says that it becomes a good physical exercise that the penguins can talk a walk outside because winter alone is bringing temperature down."

So, First, as the title suggests, I don't really know when two topics are allowed in a japanese sentence. I also don't really know how to handle them, how they relate to each other, wether one topic can be subordinated to the other etc.. I think I understood the sentence contentwise, but I've little idea how the grammar actually works.

Furthermore, probably because there are multiple topics used to build the sentence, there is kind of a lack of transitivity...^^ What confused me the most was 気温が低くなる冬だけなので. I think the ghist of this part is that winter brings down temperatures, which is a good thing for the physical well-being of the penguins. However, 冬 doesn't take direct influence on 気温, but instead it is an attribute of 冬 that expresses "becomes lowering temperature". The problem with hereby is that 低くなる itself is also a bit confusing since 低く is a noun and not an adjective. I can follow this logic in some cases, but in this case its a bit hard because it is not something along the lines of "The swine becomes a steak" (sorry for the bad humor^^) but more along the lines of "The sun becomes dark". This difficulty I have stems from the entry on http://jisho.org/search/%E4%BD%8E%E3%81%8F where 低く is categorized as a noun or suru verb, however the two meanings are no nouns Oo Therefore, my translation doesn't reflect a "NOUN becomes a NOUN" structure but a "NOUN becomes ADJECTIVE" structure. Because of that, I feel like I didn't really understand whats going on in this sentence Oo

I also don't know if I understood the use of だけ correctly. I think that here it is used to express that only through winter such a drop in temperatures can be achieved, at least for a "walk outside" (One could also put the penguins into a cooling chamber for example).

  • The word here is 低い. It’s not an adverbial form. Are you familiar with い to くなる meaning “becomes [adjective]”?
    – mamster
    Dec 31, 2017 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


Using two topics is fine when one is in a quote. A simpler example is 私は彼は来ないと思う ("I think he won't come").

And you seem to have failed to notice a cleft sentence embedded as a clause. From this sentence:

Only in winter, when temperatures drop, king penguins can take a walk outside.

...we can get this cleft sentence:

It is only in winter, when temperatures drop, that king penguins can take a walk outside.

Once you've understood this, the rest should be straightforward to you:

The aquarium says that it will give king penguins a good workout because it is only in winter, when temperatures drop, that they can take a walk outside.

気温が低くなる (literally "when temperatures become low") is a small relative clause that just says 冬 is a cold season. This may seem too obvious, but it explicitly states that what matters for penguins is temperature.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .