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When writing in English, quite often I'll want to express a connection between two noun phrases as “X (or Y)” or “X (and Y)”, where the punctuation adds a notion of “Y is a little beside the point, but to be completely correct I'll mention it in passing”.

The office is closed on weekends (and federal holidays).

This question (or a similar one) has been asked before.

When expressing this sort of sentiment in Japanese, it feels really weird to write X(とY) or X(かY). Do people ever write this kind of sentence?

事務所の閉まっている日は週末(と祝日)です。

この質問(か同じようなやつ)はもう聞かれたことがあるよ。

Using parentheses like this feels icky, at least to my intermediate-learner sensibilities. Maybe I feel a little better about adverb-like expressions like

「週末(それに祝日)」

「この質問(または同じようなやつ)」

but I've heard that または especially is pretty formal so it doesn't feel like a good option anyway.

What's a good 日本語っぽい alternative to these “parenthesized connectives”? Should I just drop the parentheses; are they too English-y?

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This kind of interrupting parentheses are a common practice in Japanese too. Beware that, however, the linguistic and cultural difference between these two languages might make literal translations not working.

As for your examples,

事務所の閉まっている日は週末(と祝日)です。

The parentheses seems hardly useful to me, partly because this 祝日 is felt neither exceptional (Japan has approx. one and half 祝日 a month), nor related to 週末 or other, nor out of linear flow of this sentence etc. The following could be much better:

土日(と祝日)が定休日です。

which presents 祝日 before we know that the sentence tells about closing days. (Never mind that I took the liberty to adjust the phrasing to be more like conventional Japanese.) It doesn't mean that equivalent construction with yours is always invalid. For example:

最初に現れたのはこの二人(と一匹)。
The first arrivers are the two (and an animal).

such expressions are quite popular.


この質問(か同じようなやつ)はもう聞かれたことがあるよ。

is the same. But the problem here is that how you use Japanese か as if English or, which is being effectively a subordinating conjunction that leads an afterthought tagged to the previous word. The Japanese counterpart doesn't have such a function, so in this case you should say instead:

この質問(みたいなこと)は前に誰かが聞いている。

The quoted みたいなこと is grammatically incomplete, so that it forces you to parse it twice この質問 or この質問みたいなこと to achieve the same rhetoric of your original English.

You can parenthesize か when it stands for "either... or" and what it connects are simple noun clauses.

パトカー(か救急車)が通り過ぎた音がする。
I hear a police car (or ambulance) has passed by.

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  • Thanks for your answer! I realize my examples are a bit artificial, but in some “X (or Y)” or even just “X or Y” cases, the “optionally parse this grammar” trick will not work because X and Y are completely different noun phrases. What should I do in such a case? (Do you happen to know a good resource on how か differs from or?) – Lynn Mar 3 at 21:54
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    @Lynn I just wanted to say that your usage of か is unnatural here. Parenthesizing from か for such isn't wrong. – broccoli facemask - cloth Mar 4 at 6:46
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When expressing this sort of sentiment in Japanese, it feels really weird to write X(とY) or X(かY).

I don't know, I think it is not so unnatural.

この質問(か同じようなやつ)はもう聞かれたことがあるよ。

I think 似たよう is more common 「このような質問や似たような質問」.

What's a good 日本語っぽい alternative to these “parenthesized connectives”?

Well as one idea you can say おまけに, but it doesn't sound very formal, and it sounds like some sort of complaint.

この事務所は週末、おまけに祝日、が定休日だ。

この質問、おまけに似たようなのは聞かれたことがあるよ。

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