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By now, I know that motion verbs (行く, 来る, 歩く, 走る, etc...) can take the particle を to indicate something being traversed (going "through" something). There are already plenty of answers regarding this topic (this was the best I found so far).

With this in consideration, I translated

博士たちは水際を歩いた。

as

The group walked through the water's edge.

However, I've seen other people translating it as

The group walked by the water.

which actually sounds more accurate.

Is this correct? If so, how does this meaning of を relates with the idea of traversing something (like the examples provided in linked post)?

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  • 1
    in this context i would translate it as “along”.
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 10, 2020 at 20:45
  • Does my answer in that linked question not clarify it for you?
    – istrasci
    Jul 11, 2020 at 0:13
  • 3
    What's your idea of 水際? The dry part or the wet part? This reminded me of this question.
    – naruto
    Jul 11, 2020 at 1:50
  • @istrasci Not really, sorry. I can understand the concept of leaving something behind you but here I'm trying to understand the "along" part, not the "through" one.
    – Jak
    Jul 11, 2020 at 18:38
  • @naruto I'm thinking it's the water's edge. So, something like a river bank or coast, depending on context.
    – Jak
    Jul 11, 2020 at 18:40

2 Answers 2

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水際 vaguely refers to the area near the coast, the area that contains both A and B.

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People usually don't want to get wet, so your sentence usually means they walked through the B area, and the use of is perfectly natural. If the sentence were something like 博士達の船は水際で魚を捕っていた, then it would refer to the A area.

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It's gonna depend heavily on the context, but it could mean a few things:

The others walked along the shore...

If everyone was for example at the beach but still on the dry part, i.e. they wouldn't be getting their feet wet from the tides coming in. Alternatively, if they were walking along the edge of a lake.

The others walked on the shore...

If everyone was near the sea and they were walking on the wet part of the beach.

The others walked by the water...

For smaller and artifical bodies of water that don't generally overflow out of their bounds, such as lakes, ponds or swimming pools.

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