On a national gyoza festival:

Lots of people lined up, particularly at the 栃木県宇都宮市 and 静岡県浜松市 stalls. The amount of money spent on gyoza by a family in one year has become the highest in Japan in either of these two cities.

Can 買う mean 'to spend on'? I'm having real trouble making a good sentence using the word 'buy'. Or have I completely mistranslated the clause?

I'm also not comfortable with どちらか here. My translation 'highest in either of these two cities' is bad English and bad logic. How should I understand どちらか in this sentence?

I think I may have got this translation very badly wrong.

  • The names of the cities and prefecture in Japanese in the translation looks so wrong to me – BelgianCoder Jun 11 '18 at 19:59
  • Sorry, I was being lazy, but the sentence would get quite unwieldy if I translated those parts too. – user3856370 Jun 11 '18 at 20:12
  • No biggy. Just never saw it before ^^ – BelgianCoder Jun 11 '18 at 20:15

買う cannot mean to spend on. Even if it did, ギョーザを買う would be bizarre, because I would expect it to mean we were "spending our gyoza" on something.

That said, I think this may be less a matter of the definitions for 買う and more a matter of how we translate the below relative clause into English.


This may be tempting to read as "The money one family spends on gyoza in a year", because that's a very natural construction in English, and I don't even think it's a bad translation in context.

However, if you want to be strict about word choice, the verb spend is absent from this sentence. For a good translation using the word buy, I would try this:

The sum of money one family buys gyoza with.

This is a little awkward and definitely sounds better (in English) with spend, but hopefully it at least convinces you that the construction is possible in English, and reasonable.

Again for どちらか, I think this is more of a translation issue than an understanding issue. Try:

The sum of money one family buys gyoza with is the highest in Japan in one of these two cities.

Edit: As mentioned below, which city its highest in can change year to year, hence mentioning that it's highest in "one of these two cities".

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    Thanks. I understand your explanation of 買う, but your translation of the second clause still sounds weird to me. Logically you'd surely say which of the two cities the most money was spent in, or say that it was about the same in both cities, but leaving the reader to guess which of the two cities has the most money spent is really strange. That's why I wasn't confident about the translation. – user3856370 Jun 11 '18 at 22:42
  • I agree that the way they've structured the sentence in regard to not specifying which of the two cities it's actually highest in is strange, but I can't really comment on why they chose to do that. More context might help. – Mindful Jun 11 '18 at 22:46
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    It's rather natural that multiple candidates can be no.1 when you compare per certain period (i.e year). – user4092 Jun 12 '18 at 6:35
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    The second clause means "As for the amount of money spent on gyoza by a family in one year, either of these two cities is the highest in Japan every year. For example, it may be 栃木県宇都宮市 five years ago, but it may be 静岡県浜松市 last year. – Yuuichi Tam Jun 12 '18 at 6:52
  • I'll add this to the answer body. – Mindful Jun 12 '18 at 17:41

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