Consider the following quote from this article:


As I understand it, the last clause is supposed to mean "there are ones (ie. certain 和菓子) that make you ponder about what kind of meaning they have been imbued with". However, the phrase 考えるもの suggests that it is the 和菓子 that does the pondering. There are hence two possibilities:

  1. This is informal, poor use of the language.
  2. This is a pattern of the language that I have not been aware of.

I would be thankful for an explanation.



Your translation is correct, and どんな意味が込められているのか考えるもの(=形) is a completely natural Japanese phrase at the same time. Grammatically speaking, I think this is something called a gapless relative clause explained here. Other similar examples include:

  • 英語を学ぶ楽しみ the joy of learning English (not "the joy which is learning English")
  • カエルが水に飛び込む音 the sound of a frog jumping into water
  • よく笑う性格 jovial character
  • 彼が考えた結果 the result of his thoughts / his conclusion

Also related: Does 考えさせられる小説 make sense?

EDIT: As pointed by broccoli forest, this may not be a gap-less clause because 込める can take に (e.g., 星の形に意味を込める "to put a meaning in the star shape").

  • 「形にどんな意味が込められているのか考える」から来ているのでこの場合はgaplessではないと思います。(The book which I think he bought yesterday < I think he bought the book yesterday と同じ構造) Nov 8 '19 at 8:19
  • @broccoliforest あれ本当だ…ちなみにcase-headでいいんでしょうか(前いただいたリンクが切れてました…)
    – naruto
    Nov 8 '19 at 8:52
  • Thanks for your explanation; I have thus finally accepted the legitimacy of such constructs. Yet in my opinion, for a non-expert the ambiguity in this case is greater than in your examples, as this clause lacks a verb that in English one would naturally use to connect the thinking to the inducer of the thinking, ie. 'makes', 'causes' or 'allows' in 'makes you think...'.
    – Mixel
    Nov 8 '19 at 11:32
  • @naruto 前のリンクってこれのことでしょうか…? japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/72497/… この場合埋め込み節の中では「形に」は確実に必須項だと思いますが、従属節内から主要部を引っぱり出す例がGoogle Booksの閲覧範囲で見つからなかったのではっきりとしたことはわかりません…(今確認したらGoogle Booksのリンクは確かに何も出ない状態でしたが、「すべて表示」を押してからp.201あたりで目的の場所が見られました) Nov 8 '19 at 15:08

Your translation is 100% spot on.

However, this usage of 考える is neither colloquial nor poor use of the language.

Following your same logic, パッと見て何を模したかわかる形 would imply that the 形 is the thing doing the looking and the understanding, but we know that to not be the case. We know that the thing doing the looking and understanding is a general person, the 'generic you' or 'generic we'.

I feel your confusion arises from the fact that the subject of 考える is not explicitly stated, but as long as all parties are aware that a certain subject is in the universe of discourse, it is possible to abbreviate it. Certain things like "I" and "you" are always in the universe of discourse, and because "you" refers to anyone who may be reading the article, it takes on the meaning of 'generic you'.

  • 1
    Would the downvoter please explain their reasoning? Even if this sentence is a "gapless relative clause" (which I had never heard of before), it still has an implied subject of 'generic you/we'.
    – sbkgs4686
    Nov 8 '19 at 4:13
  • 2
    私はdownvoteしてないので推測ですが、OPの訳を見る限り「考える」の意味上の主語がgeneric youであること自体は、指摘するまでもなく文脈で正しく理解できています。その上で、こんなぱっと見は妙な連体修飾節がどうして文法上あり得るのかを聞いているので、それに答える必要があるのでは、と思います。(これが学習者にとっては妙なのだと気付くには慣れが必要かもしれませんが)
    – naruto
    Nov 8 '19 at 4:38
  • naruto@ Can you pleas explain what do you mean by{こんなぱっと見は妙な連体修飾節がどうして文法上あり得るのかを聞いているので、それに答える必要があるのでは} Nov 8 '19 at 7:22

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