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真っ昼間からふくろうが空を飛び交うのを、ダーズリー氏は見ないですんだが、...
Mr Dursley didn't see the owls flying around in broad daylight but ...

I don't understand why から is used in this sentence. What is the difference from writing 真っ昼間?

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Many usage examples of 真っ昼間 involve drinking alcohol during the daytime. According to this page, it is stated that it is typically used to describe an action or occurrence that is not normally done during the daytime, often with a judgmental (or surprised) tone. This definition is more in accordance with the use of から than に, as in 'from such a time as would normally be considered too early'. This includes drinking, sexual activities, burglary, etc.

真っ昼間から暗闇体験ができる! One can experience darkness in the daytime.

ときどき二人で真っ昼間からパチンコ屋へ入っているそうです。They sometimes seem to go into pachinko parlors (even so early as) in the fullness of day.

Using に, on the other hand, does not have this implicit judgment about the hour that it is happening.

全裸で真っ昼にパレードに参加 Joining an all-nude parade in the broad daylight.

よく真っ昼間にどこかの山にのぼって、... Often climb some mountain in the middle of the day, ...

As neither parades, walking down the street naked, nor climbing mountains are considered regular nighttime activities there is no judgment or surprise about how early it is. Simply that it is happening in the 'middle of the day' or 'in broad daylight'.

In your example sentence, there is not so much a moral judgment, but more of an indication that this would be perceived to be an activity that is not expected to occur until the sun goes down. I don't see any problem with the translation provided, as most people understand implicitly that most owls are nocturnal and only fly at night.

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    +1. We also say 昼間っから, which also has an accusatory overtone. For example 昼間っから酒ばっかり飲んでる, 昼間っからイチャイチャしやがって. – naruto Feb 5 at 2:30
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    @sazarando As I understand, there can be a judgmental tone with に, but not necessarily. It depends on context. Any such tone, though, would not due to the 'early hour' of the thing being done, rather, that it is done for everyone to see in the clear light of day. – user27280 Feb 5 at 3:22
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    @sazarando Both do, and that's why I wanted to point out 昼間っから also has a similar nuance. – naruto Feb 5 at 3:23
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    This is similar to から in 朝っぱらから, isn't it? – snailboat Feb 5 at 3:23
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    @snailboat As I see it, it is an identical pattern, as regards に vs から (with から being significantly more frequent in usage). – user27280 Feb 5 at 3:31
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I feel like if you say 真っ昼間から you are implying that the owls started flying around "from" midday. 真っ昼間 wouldn't indicate that they began flying around then, just that they were flying at that time.

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    I'm a little confused, I thought 真っ昼間 meant 'broad daylight', rather than midday. – user3856370 Feb 4 at 21:55
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    Yes, you're right. And I think that's why the translators used "in" instead of "from". 真っ昼間 is a way of emphasizing "right-in-the-middle midday", which in English might be more natural as "broad daylight", but it sounds weird to say "from broad daylight" in this context and as you point out "from midday" looses the emphasis of 真っ昼間. – sazarando Feb 4 at 22:01
  • I see your point but in the original book there's no suggestion that things start at midday. The context would suggest that it was in the morning at the start of work. Perhaps 昼 has a wider meaning than noon this word? – user3856370 Feb 4 at 22:11
  • I don't know what dictionary you're using, but 'daytime' is generally listed as one definition for 昼. More apropos, however, is the definition of ひるま (昼間). – user27280 Feb 4 at 22:39
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    昼間 is the time from morning to evening when the sun is out, and 真っ昼間 is the very middle of that time period. weblio.jp/content/%E6%98%BC%E9%96%93 weblio.jp/content/%E7%9C%9F%E3%81%A3%E6%98%BC%E9%96%93 – sazarando Feb 4 at 22:49

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