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Below is a sentence from a light novel. (The context of the sentence is that a guy is traveling on a bus and the sentence is from his inner monologue about the congestion inside the bus.)

「そして気が付くと、仕事に追われフラストレーションを溜めたサラリーマンが、ついうっかり痴漢しちゃおっかな?と間違いを覚えてしまいそうなほどに車内は混雑している。」

I couldn't understand the part 「…間違いを覚えてしまいそう…」, so I asked a friend from Japan. She did some explanation, but I couldn't understand it very well since she did it in Japanese as well. But she said that she hadn't heard it before.

I also asked this in another Q&A platform, and someone from Japan said to me "I have never heard such Japanese. You shouldn't imitate the language that stupid Japanese people use." And another Japanese person said that it may just be a typo or mistake of author.

Is this an incorrect sentence? If it is correct, what is the translation of it? And what does 「…間違いを覚えてしまいそう…」 mean in this context?

Thank you.

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「間違{まちが}いを覚{おぼ}えてしまいそう」 would have to be called a mistake by any standards.  It simply makes little to no sense in the context (or pretty much even without any context because it simply is not a good collocation).

The phrase that should have been used instead would be:

「Adjective + 感覚{かんかく}/感情{かんじょう}を覚える」 

which means:

"to experience a (adjective) feeling"

Note that 「覚える」 does not mean "to learn" here.

That adjective would be one with a negative meaning like 「邪{よこしま}な」 ("vicious").

Thus, we have:

「~~と邪な感情を覚えてしまいそうなほどに~~」

which should satisfy the vast majority of us native speakers.

"And before you know it, the train is so jammed as to make a frustrated and overworked 'salary man' to experience a vicious feeling that perhaps he could, by mistake or something, grope a woman."

  • I see. Thank you for the explanation. As far as I understand from your answer, it seems that 間違い is not the correct word in this context. But if the meaning of 間違い was "improper conduct (between man and woman)", would it make sense? Jisho says that the word has this kind of meaning as well. – reika Feb 4 '18 at 7:13

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