In the opening of Violet Evergarden there is this verse:






I'm having trouble understanding 「言葉はいつでも語るでもなくて」: the general meaning it's "Words aren't always spoken", but I don't understand what's the meaning of 「でもなくて」.

I found this answer with different meanings for「でもない」, I was wondering if this case it's "Not worth...", so "It's not worthwhile to always speak [I guess meaning 'say aloud'] words", but I'm not sure since the translation I saw didn't have that "worth" meaning, which to me sounds quite strong with respect to a simple "Words doesn't always have to be spoken".

I tried asking a Japanese teacher, and she just said something vague about this being a form that negates the sentence, but I don't understand its grammar: would 「語らなくて」 have a different meaning?




First of all, the grammar in those two lines. When I saw you say "Words aren't always spoken", I knew I had to mention the grammar.

「言葉」 is the subject (action-taker) of all of the three verbs -- 「語らない」、「ある」 and 「つのる」.

What words do not do: 「語る」

What words do: 「ある」 and 「つのる」

Thus, the two lines are roughly saying:

"Words do not 語る; They just keep on あるing and つのるing out there."

「語るでもなくて」 does not mean "not worth speaking". It simply means "Words don't speak/talk", which is a major statement. The 「でもなくて」 part also implies that words do not do anything else that is important.

Though I hate to quote myself, this is exactly what I said in the linked Q&A.

2) denying explicitly one thing and also denying implicitly other things as well

So what do words do if they don't speak/talk? They just keep on existing and gathering out there.

  • Thanks! The translations I found online were quite off, then. Since "Words don't speak" it's strange I'm guessing it could be figurative; could it mean words aren't always meaningful? – Mauro Oct 22 '19 at 10:00
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    @Mauro IMO it’s like “words themselves do not tell a story”(people do) “they simply exist”(waiting for someone to use them) – Igor Skochinsky Oct 22 '19 at 16:10
  • If that's the case I'm wondering about いつも: considering it and your interpretation I think it would be something like "Words themselves don't always tell a story", which if the implication is "people do" sounds strange. – Mauro Oct 22 '19 at 16:28

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