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Hello to all the community,

As a part of my autodidact learning, I am currently studying different kind of Japanese sentences in different situations. For now, I am trying to understand the lyrics of the opening song of the anime Captain Tsubasa (from 1983). More than a translation, I try to figure out the meaning of words and grammar to get a true understanding of the language.

The song I am currently studying is 燃{も}えてヒーロー by Hiroshi Uchiki. I could understand the first sentences by myself and my own researches, yet I am getting quite stuck on the following sentence : それにつけても俺{おれ}たちゃなんなの. This is translated as "Despite that, we are here", but I don't understand from where this comes from...

All I could find about それにつけても is the meaning of "anyways", and this may come from the grammar ...につけ(て), possibly from the verb 付{つ}ける, this grammar having the meaning of "every time I do...", "as soon as I do...". From there, I can't find the relation between 付{つ}ける "to attach, to stuck" and the given translation of "Despite that" or even "anyways". Moreover, 付{つ}ける is a transitive verb and do I don't understand the に particle here, targeting それ. Maybe am I seeding from the wrong verb ?

I am also in trouble for the second part of the sentence : 俺{おれ}たちゃなんなの, translated as "we are here". If I could figure out that 俺たちゃ is a plain and spoken way of saying 俺たち "we, us", the なんなの part gets me confused. Here I guess we have 何なの, a shortened form of 何なのですか, meaning "what is it", with a certain emphasis or interest towards the question. So if I get all altogether, I may try a rough translation of "what are we ?" (probably in the meaning of "what do we represent in this world ?"

Overall I get for それにつけても俺{おれ}たちゃなんなの a translation of "Anyways, what do we represent in this world ?" which is very far from the declarative "Despite that, we are here".

Does anyone have a better understanding of this ? To get the sentence in context, we can use this website.

Please forgive me if the question is not properly asked, as I am not English native, which is a language that I am also currently studying.

Thank you in advance for your precious help !

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それにつけても is a set phrase used to introduce a topic that is different from but related to the current one. それ refers to the current (old) topic, つける means attaching. も implies what the speaker will say is not totally new but also related to the current one. A literal translation would be something like "attaching to that (topic), ..." or "also as a continuation of that, ...". Basically it's just a rare conjunction, so it can be translated as "anyway", "at the end of the day", "after all", "be that as it may", "that reminds me", "but then", "by the way", etc, depending on how it's related to the previous topic. Note that this is fairly rare in real conversations. それにしても is similar and is much more common.

Regarding 俺たちゃなんなの, it's a contraction of 俺た何なの(か), or "what are we?". You can forget "we are here", which is simply wrong. And "represent in the world" is probably not a good word choice even as free translation, because this "what are we" implies they are small and pitiful beings (see below).

それにつけても俺たちゃなんなの ボールひとつにキリキリ舞いさ
But then, what in the world are we, being swayed by just a ball?
After all, we are at the mercy of only one ball, what kind of existence are we?

  • The contraction of the は particle clearly didn't come to my mind ! With the help of your clarification, it is now quite obvious, thank you so much ! May I not use this website's translation of the song after all... I am quite sad because I wanted to study this song the better way and the english translation is the only point of comparison I have to check if I understood things right. I will try to find another one so... thank you again for your very clear explanation ! – NatsuDragon Oct 10 '18 at 19:05
  • On that matter, and to better understand how these two sentences are linked, does the さ at the end of ボールひとつにキリキリ舞いさ represent a shortened form of the verb される ? Indeed, as it seems to be a passive I am confused about this to be the final さ particle (which seems to be a more masculine よ). The meaning of キリキリ舞い that I found in japanese-english dictionaries on this topic being something like "the rushing of a person off his feet", does キリキリ舞いさ mean "being rushed off its feet (by just one ball)", and so translated as "being swayed by just a ball" ? – NatsuDragon Oct 15 '18 at 16:03
  • @NatsuDragon It's a sentence-end particle. キリキリ舞い is not a verb but a noun in the first place. – naruto Oct 15 '18 at 17:53
  • I see, but what is the point of this particle here ? Is it a more masculine よ ? I was confused by the passive translation, because I was searching the agent linked to the に particle (in this case I thought the agent of the passive phrase was ボール, for a subject being 俺たち). Thank you again for taking the time to explain me these concepts ! – NatsuDragon Oct 15 '18 at 19:58
  • @NatsuDragon さ is a masculine よ, yes. に can mark a cause in general, and it's not necessarily followed by a passive verb. (e.g. そのニュースに喜ぶ, 美しい声にうっとりする, 急な話に戸惑う) – naruto Oct 16 '18 at 1:51

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