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行かせる - Make someone go

I saw this sentence, "息子を公立学校に行かせてください" and it seems to translate to "Please send your child to a public school" instead of "please make your child go to a public school". The question is, why does the causative form of 行く translates to "send" instead of "make someone go"

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    Who said so in what situation? It depends on that.
    – kaboc
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:04
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    Would the translation "have someone go" vs "make someone go" help?
    – mamster
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:35
  • 3
    Try not to get too hung up on the English translation.
    – Angelos
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:40
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    Interestingly, the causative in German overlaps with the permissive in a way that's a bit similar to Japanese. If I say "Ich lasse Karl gehen", I'm saying both "I make Karl go" (causative) and "I let Karl go" (permissive). Which one I mean depends on the context, but at the basic level without any context, it's basically the same thing: "I", through action or inaction, am causing "Karl" to go. In the sample sentence, the unstated subject, through action (causative) or inaction / acquiescence (permissive), is causing the 息子 to 行く to 公立学校. Mar 10, 2020 at 15:29
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    Sending a child to school is the same thing as making them go to school basically so this question seems like a confusion about English more than anything. Also where does the translation come from? I've downvoted this because I think the question is very poor.
    – user36788
    Mar 11, 2020 at 13:32

1 Answer 1

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You can take this 「せる」 as the causative or imperative form, but the context determines which. It is a bit complicated.

According to コトバンク:

相手が自分の思うようにするよう。また、ある事態が起こるようにしむける意を表す。

「息子を公立学校に行かせてください」 : "Please make your child go to a public school"

Your son might want to go to a private school for some reason. In this case, you can't allow him to go there. So, you might be asking the teacher to persuade him to go to a public school.


In another scenario,

(「せていただく」「せてもらう」の形で)相手方の許しを求めて行動する意を表す。「言わせていただく」「やらせてもらう」

It is asking someone for a permission to do something (If the situation were special, it might be making allowance to do something.).

So, 「息子を公立学校に行かせてください」 means "Please let my son choose to go / allow my son to go to a public school" In this case, the teacher might be stopping your son from going to a public school.

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