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I have seen this construction used various times in Japanese text, but I cannot really put my finger on as to what it could mean definitively.

人類の進歩と調和に役立つもの・・・例えば
ディフレクターに代わる
新しいエネルギーとか
まぁ、そんなものですかな?

Personally, I believe it to be something

of tremendous importance to mankind. Something that will help us better

ourselves and the world. Perhaps, a new energy source, more powerful than

our current refractors.

My attempt at figuring this out

It's something of tremendous importance for the progress of mankind. For example, a new energy source to replace refractors, or something like that, perhaps?

  • 1
    Could you first explain how you ended up with that translation? If you are using a machine translator and asking for clarification for the parts that are (seemingly) not processed correctly, this would be equivalent to a translation request, i.e. off-topic. – VVayfarer May 24 at 7:04
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While there was a comment saying this might be off-topic if the poster is using a machine translator and asking for clarification, the English text doesn't look like something that came out of a machine translator. So I will go ahead and answer.

まぁ、そんなものですかな?

"まぁ" has a feeling of hesitation, possible when something is thinking about something, and can be often translated as "well".

"もの" has multiple meanings, primarily to refer to a physical object, but sometimes referring to an abstract thing in a (for lack of a better term) "emotional" sense. "そんなもの" (often そんなもん") is an expression that fits more with the second definition, though the first also applies here too since the contexts talking about physical things. In both cases "something" often fits as a translation.

Using the above understanding to make a rough translation we get:

Well, something like that.

The "かな” in the phrase is often used when the speaker is wondering about something, often thinking out loud without giving a direct question to anyone.

However, given the context that we are in the middle of a sentence, especially after listing one possible option, this would probably be better:

(a new energy source)...or something like that.

Here the "well" is not directly translated, but implied by the "..."

To help add the feeling of the ”かな”, you could possibly throw the phrase "I guess" somewhere in the phrase (probably at the beginning).

  • The translation given in the original question looks like something that came out of a machine translator that was subsequently interpreted by an English-speaking person into something less incoherent. If it was translated with help of a dictionary, it almost certainly wouldn't change so much of the meaning. Especially since the part that's supposed to be the "direct translation" (above the part that says 'my attempt at figuring this out') is already extremely liberal... I can't see how that would happen if it was not produced by a translation software. – VVayfarer May 24 at 14:16
  • Either way, there is no harm in hearing the question asker's logic about how they ended up with that translation. If they did it by themselves, then it should be easy for them to explain how it happened. If not, they will probably not give any explanation, and then we will know that this is off-topic. – VVayfarer May 24 at 14:20
  • I think of the phrase "such a thing". "something like that" is usually translated as "そのようなもの". They are a little different. – Yuuichi Tam May 24 at 14:44
  • @YuuichiTam I thought that そんな and そのような were effectively the same thing, though perhaps there is a nuance difference. This thesaurus lists them together, though I acknowledge that often words in such lists do not have the exact same meaning: thesaurus.weblio.jp/content/そんなもの – Locksleyu May 24 at 15:11
  • @Locksleyu Probably, this can be interpreted as both meanings. I thought it refers to only ディフレクターに代わる 新しいエネルギー, not similar things. – Yuuichi Tam May 24 at 15:49

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