Is there a basic rule for translating negatives/double negatives that do not feel natural in English. The example I have been struggling is as follows:


[TOPIX has fallen to a 29 year low. ] On the basis that management are not in disarray, assets are being properly used and losses are not being annually hemorrhaged this level cannot be explained.

I can think of several ways to express the same view but ultimately (if it is not dumb question) should we just choose what we think is the closest natural equivalent?

Bonus: I have taken a liberty with 暴走, which is not really "disarray" but seems to fit better. Is this commonly accpetable practice?

  • 2
    Unfortunately, your question sounds subjective to me. What about listing the "several ways to express the same view"? Then a comparison can be made.
    – Chris
    Aug 23, 2012 at 5:22
  • 3
    “should we just choose what we think is the closest natural equivalent?” Isn’t that exactly the definition of translation? I am not sure what else you would expect…. Aug 23, 2012 at 12:11

1 Answer 1


The way I would do it here is to use "unless":


[TOPIX has sunk to a 29-year low] The stock price level is unexplainable unless there is the assumption of managers being out of control, absolutely failing to make the best use of the assets which they possess, every year running deficits.

  • I am afraid that “With this stock price level, …, it is a level that is unexplainable” is an illogical sentence. How about simply “This stock price level is unexplainable unless …”? Aug 23, 2012 at 12:07
  • @TsuyoshiIto I agree, thanks for the feedback.
    – cypher
    Aug 23, 2012 at 12:15
  • Thank you. I am not sure I like word "unexplainable", from the perspective of "closest natural equivalent", how would the following do?: "[TOPIX has sunk to a 29-year low.] This level could only be explained if management were out of control, totally failing to make proper use of available assets and repeatedly running up significant annual losses."
    – Tim
    Aug 24, 2012 at 7:32
  • @Tim I'm sorry, but I think what the "closest natural equivalent" translation would be is subjective and off-topic for this site as per the FAQ (japanese.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask)
    – cypher
    Aug 24, 2012 at 8:54
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    @Tim no worries - I think your translation sounds good, I just don't know how I would answer what the "closest natural equivalent" would be. I think you could probably translate this multiple ways and I don't think there is a single best way that's objectively definable.
    – cypher
    Aug 24, 2012 at 13:55

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