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身の危険が迫った時にだけ発現する能力だから

I know there are two relative clauses in the above sentence, as shown below. Example structure is [verb/sentence]noun/main clause]

Relative clause 1: [身の危険が迫った]時]

Relative clause 2: [発現する]能力]

I know that clauses are made with the "sentence/verb + noun" construct, and the main clause extends to the end of the sentence unless in the case a second/third/etc relative clause exists, at which point the main clause will end where the next relative clause begins.

In the above case however, the particle に already exists in the first main clause, which makes me highly doubt the だけ particle is being used with the first clause (despite me knowing that particles can be combined in different ways; and this might be a case of seeing a combination I've not encountered before). This dictionary has a example of にだけ, and this answer gives a possible meaning which failed to answer my question.

Which clause is the だけ particle attached to, the first one (thereby making the first main clause 時にだけ), or the second one (thereby making the second relative clause だけ発現する)?

My best guess for the entire sentence would be that the だけ is attached to the 身の危険が迫った時に(だけ) clause, but I would still like to have a secondary opinion.

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    I feel like you’re making a fundamental mistake of trying to cut your sentence into chunks, while grammar is actually a tree. E.g., if we take the simpler sentence of just “表現する能力だから” it’s not 表現する | 能力だから but rather it’s [[表現する]能力]だから. The thing which comes before だ is a noun, and that noun isn’t 能力 itself but rather all of 表現する能力 (actually technically a “noun phrase”, not just “noun”, but that’s just terminology). This becomes even more relevant when you consider your full sentence. Maybe try adding your best guess at a tree structure for the entire sentence? – Darius Jahandarie Sep 11 at 19:12
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    I think you may have still missed my point about the entire sentence being a single tree. Here’s an example of another sentence 来週東京に行く人はいますか? → [[[[来週][東京に]行く]人]は]いますか? The 東京に being deep in the tree shows that it connects to 行く, same with 来週 connecting to 行く. Could you try for your sentence? – Darius Jahandarie Sep 11 at 20:41
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    Does this help? imgur.com/duyESDL – Darius Jahandarie Sep 11 at 23:39
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    I recommend dropping everything else you are doing and staring at that image until you understand it. It’s fully self-explanatory and self-contained. This is the problem you’ve been having in the majority of questions you’ve asked on this site. – Darius Jahandarie Sep 12 at 3:50
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    @DariusJahandarie That image made me laugh out loud uncontrollably. Thanks for sharing – Ringil Sep 12 at 4:06
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Without the だけ and だから, you have a long noun phrase, which you could parse...

[〈(身の危険が迫った)時に〉発現する]能力

身の危険が迫った modifies 時.

[身の危険が迫った]時に = lit. "at times [when physical danger is approaching]"

身の危険が迫った時に発現する modifies 能力.

[(身の危険が迫った)時に発現する]能力 = lit. "ability [that appears at times (when physical danger is approaching)]


Adding だけ:

「~~時に...」 = "... when ~~"
→ 「~~時にだけ...」 = "... only when ~~"

So,

「身の危険が迫った時にだけ発現する」 = "appears only when physical danger is approaching"

The だけ modifies 身の危険が迫った時に.


Adding だから:

「身の危険が迫った時にだけ発現する能力だから」
lit. "Because (it) is the ability that appears only when physical danger is approaching."
→ "Because it's the ability that appears only when you're in danger." / "Because the ability appears only when you're in danger."  

~だから consists of the copula だ + particle から. Depending on context, から at the end of a sentence can mean "Because..." or "..., you know." etc.

  • I figured that だけ was attached to に, like you showed; but wasn't a hundred percent certain on what it modified. – Toyu_Frey Sep 12 at 3:44

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