I can't figure out why in the sentence

「煙を吐き、その煙さに波香は自分で顔をしかめた。」

the second 煙 is followed by a さ. I know さ as a way to nominalize a noun. But 煙 already is one... so what function does it have here? I roughly would translate the sentence as

Exhaling, Namika frowned upon her own cigarette smoke.<

Could I just omit さ without changing the sentence meaning?

I know さ as a way to nominalize a noun.

I'm assuming you mean a way to nominalise an adjective. And that's what we have here. [煙]{けむ}い is an adjective meaning 'smoky'. So [煙]{けむ}さ is the nominalised version meaning 'smokiness'.

Could you omit さ without changing the meaning? I guess it's not quite the same, but that's a bit too subtle for my language skills.

  • Right, sorry about that. I see. Can i use the noun 煙 instead of the nominalized adjective 煙さ here as well? – Risa Nov 18 at 13:58
  • No need to apologise. Do you know the difference between 'smoke' and 'smokiness' in English? I'm not a native Japanese speaker so I can't say for certain but I feel that you could use けむり here, but the meaning would be subtly different (at least in English). – user3856370 Nov 18 at 14:05
  • Also I am not a native english speaker I might have a hunch. So Namika isn't so much frowning upon the puff of smoke she exhaled at this moment, but while exhaling she kind notices how smoky the room got in total (since she is already smoking for a while) and comments that with a frown? – Risa Nov 18 at 14:28

In the first part of the sentence, the word 煙 is read as けむり and is a noun. The reason there is no Hiragana at the end is that you can choose to omit it - for a Japanese reader it would be self-evident so it is not necessary. In the second part, the adjective 煙い (けむい) is transformed into a noun by replacing the Hiragana い with the Hiragana さ.

It both means smoke, but for stilistic reasons (probably to avoid repetition), two different approaches were chosen to express the same thing. Or a different explanation could be that 煙を吐く(けむりをはく) is a phrase that means "to puff smoke" and it is predetermined that it be used like that. But in the later part, "smoke" is used on its own, so the author could decide more freely how to express theirself.

I hope that I could be of help. Have fun studying Japanese!

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