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What is the purpose of the suffix "さ" on adjectives like 美しさ and 多さ?

The former is the title of an essay by Banana Yoshimoto, so I don't have much context for it. The book editors translated it as "On beauty" which didn't help me understand what this さ business was all about.

In the case of the latter, she writes:

"品揃えの多さについつい買い込んでしまい、大荷物を抱えて併設の花屋に行った。"

Which I understand as:

"There were many goods there that, against my better judgement, I had purchased. Carrying the bags I went to the attached flower shop."

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  • 5
    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/1417/78
    – istrasci
    Aug 31, 2012 at 19:00
  • 1
    “In this case 美しさ.” In which case? Aug 31, 2012 at 22:11
  • It's the title of the essay, so I didn't have much context for it. The book editors translated it as "On beauty" which didn't help me understand what this さ business was all about.
    – horatius83
    Sep 6, 2012 at 20:35

2 Answers 2

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It serves the same purpose as "-ness" in English; making an adjective into a noun.

[速]{はや}さ = speed; quickness
[高]{たか}さ = height; "tallness"
[長]{なが}さ = length; "longness"
[新]{あたら}しさ = newness
[大]{おお}きさ = size; largeness

and in your case:

[多]{おお}さ = multitude
[美]{うつく}しさ = beauty

So in this context, the expression means "I, against my better judgement, bought a multitude of goods."

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    Your translation is only for the part ついつい買い込んでしまい. In particular, the bold “multitude” does not correspond to 多さ in the original sentence. Aug 31, 2012 at 22:08
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As phoenixheart6 wrote, suffix -さ makes a noun from an adjective. I am not sure if you have a problem with this. But it seems that you have a misunderstanding about the role of に. In a sentence

品揃えの多さについつい買い込んでしまった。

に means “because of.” 買い込む means “to buy many things.” Therefore, it means:

Because of the variety of goods they sell, I ended up buying too many things against my better judgment.

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  • Yes, I usually understand に in the context of moving in a direction or time, so に being used in the the sense of causing something was lost on me.
    – horatius83
    Sep 6, 2012 at 20:32
  • The particle に is definitely my Achilles heel when it comes to particles. Thanks for catching me on that. Sep 14, 2012 at 1:37

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