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I have to say that translating Japanese sentences into English can be very challenging! Here is a sentence from Felony Imprisonment With Hard Labour.

短期の懲役刑(6ヶ月程度)では、受刑者に施設内処遇者というレッテルを貼られることによるデメリットが、懲役期間中の教育効果を上回るのではないかともいわれておる

I used Google Translate, and I got the following translation.

In short-term imprisonment (about 6 months), it is said that the disadvantages of being sentenced to inmate treatment by prisoners may outweigh the educational effect during the imprisonment period.

I understand that Google Translate is not the best tool, but sometimes it has proven to be very helpful!

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the parts of the sentence are translated like this.

  • “いわれておる” – “It is said”
  • “も” – “Even” or “Also”
  • “と” – quoting particle, and it can be translated as “That”
  • “のではないか” – expression used to question something, and the “の” is used to attach the expression to the verb in this case

I guess “のではないか” is the part that I am having a hard time translating. If you have any suggestions, please tell me! I am looking forward to it.

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のではないか can be split into five words:

  • の: explanatory-no
  • で: te-form of だ
  • は: the topic marker
  • ない: "not"
  • か: the question marker

Put together, it literally means "isn't it that ~?", but essentially it's a formal expression that can be translated as "may" (or "it is possible that ~", "I suspect", etc.). In colloquial Japanese, it becomes んじゃないか. Sometimes ないか is omitted.

彼は見たのでは(ないか)。 / 彼は見たんじゃ(ないか)。
I suspect he saw it. / Didn't he see it?

彼は忍者なのでは(ないか)。 / 彼は忍者なんじゃ(ないか)。
Isn't he a ninja? / He may be a ninja!


This time, the result of Google Translate seems pretty good, except that "being sentenced to inmate treatment by prisoners" doesn't make sense to me.

受刑者に施設内処遇者というレッテルを貼られることによるデメリット
disadvantages of being labelled as someone that required a {institutional treatment / custodial sentence}

施設内処遇 is legal jargon used in the context of 矯正 ("correction"), and in this case it's just a roundabout way of saying "imprisonment" as opposed to milder penalty like fines.

  • Oh, thank you so much! I was confused over some of the expressions! I have to admit that some of the terms seem a little difficult to translate. It is a very good thing websites like Weblio give ideas on how to translate them. – Micheal Gignac Aug 15 at 12:34

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