Recently I've been reading Michael Emmerich's "New Penguin Parallel Text" for Japanese short stories. In Yoshimoto Banana's "A Little Darkness," there's a passage that describes how the narrator's father didn't like planned birthday celebrations (he avoids them and gets dead drunk), to the point where the mother and daughter surprise him with a middle of the night birthday party while he's sleeping, and so in this case he comes home, not drunk, like a nice, regular day. At that point, Yoshimoto writes:


In Emmerich's translation, the passage goes: "It never occurred to us that if we had to go to so much trouble, we might as well not celebrate."

In this thread, a seemingly similar use of -てまで has a meaning of weighing the worth of one's actions. Is that what is going on here, but the portion "we might as well not celebrate" is merely implied in the Japanese, and made explicit in the translation? If so, how can we reach that conclusion based on this short and seemingly simple phrase?

Is it common to drop that secondary clause? Or is this a sort of stock phrase? I'm having trouble understanding the leap here.

Here's the full passage for context:


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    Before talking about the "leap", I'm having trouble understanding who did what. Can you provide several sentences before this (in original Japanese) so that people can tell what そんな means and who the subject of して is?
    – naruto
    Oct 6, 2019 at 3:19

2 Answers 2


そんなにしてまで、とは思わなかった (sonna ni shite made, to wa omowanakatta) means "I never thought (someone) would go to such lengths." It is used to express surprise or amazement at the effort or dedication someone has put into something.

In this context, the speaker is recalling a memory of their father being woken up in the middle of the night to celebrate their birthday in their pajamas, and how much effort their father put into making the celebration special. The speaker reflects on how this demonstration of love and effort truly helped their father, and how they never would have thought their father would go to such lengths. They also reflect on how this shows the weakness of humans and the ways they show love.


I think it means そんなにしてまで(父の誕生日を祝うのか)、とは思わなかった. It means "I didn't think that we celebrated him going so far as doing such a thing.". The writer thought that what they did for their father's birthday was not a burden(trouble).

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    I think what Yuuichi is saying is that the writer is saying something along the lines of “I/we never felt that we were doing too much”. Not an exact translation, but I think that’s the spirit of the phrase. Nov 5, 2019 at 9:14

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