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Is it possible that there just may be a verb that is being implied? The phrases are as follows (these are extracts of a song, so I've bolded the phrases in question and left the continuing lyrics as they are in case they might be of any importance):

白く 白く 吹雪のような そう出逢う前から解ってた この想い

強く 強く 願いは強く 繋ぐよ その手を

However when I look for translations, none of them ever present the く form as an adverb. In fact, one of the translations even go so far as to interpret the く forms as comparative adjectives:

Whiter and whiter, like a blizzard

Stronger and stronger, my wishes get stronger

I'm not sure why it's translated as a comparative adjective, and if it does mean something like "White, white, like a blizzard," could the phrase have been written as "白い 白い 吹雪のような" instead?

And the second line says "My wishes get stronger", but the "get" part is missing. Could it be that there is actually a になる phrase that is only implied?

  • Hi, welcome to the site! I think I can't answer your question though, in the first line 吹雪 is a very much snowy condition like lots of snow hitting in your face. That's why they used comparative to describe genuine feeling. – kimi Tanaka Jul 31 '20 at 14:53
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In your first phrase, yes there is an implied verb. That verb is だ. Some people don't even think of an implied だ, but actually say that の is a form of だ, like だった and な. But both views boil down to the same thing.

Whiter and whiter, like a blizzard

sounds natural in English, but it's not a literal translation. Closer would be:

Like a blizzard that is whiter and whiter

Or, even closer:

Like a blizzard that is whitely, whitely

You can probably see why none of the translations ever present the く form as an adverb. "Whitely" isn't even a word in English, much less a natural sounding translation.

Now for the unintuitive translation:

Whiter and whiter, like a blizzard

What's being said is that is that the blizzard is becoming whiter over time. In English this is expressed using the comparative form of "white", as the blizzard is being compared to its past self. The blizzard now is whiter that is was a second ago.

Since there is no comparative form of adjectives in Japanese, it's impossible to express the idea of a blizzard getting whiter over time concisely using a comparison. Instead, it's expressed by the repetition of 白く.

Keep in mind, this is just one translation. Another interpretation could just be that the blizzard is very white.

I'm not totally sure about the difference between「白く 白く 吹雪のような」and「白い 白い 吹雪のような」. I'm no native.

My guess is that, since く is the connective form of 白い, it may sound more natural to repeat 白く instead of 白い. 白く may also may more easily imply the "whiter and whiter" interpretation. This is because 白い just describes the state of the blizzard "a white white blizzard", while 白く, being an adverb, implies an action. Specifically, being white, so it more easily implies becoming more white.

Your second sentence makes sense for basically the same reasons as the first one, but without the added confusion of an implied だ.

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Background: problematic circumstances for understanding

Poetry is a really difficult format for trying to learn any language, precisely because poetry uses different structures and omits various things.

In addition, translation is a terrible way to try to understand the mechanics of any source language, precisely because the process of translation unavoidably results in different grammar and mechanics in the target language.

Looking more closely at the text

In your sample, the 白く is adverbial, applying not to the noun, but rather to the overall line / sentence. Note too that whitespace is not a common feature in written Japanese -- so if someone is adding spaces, it's meant more like punctuation.

Let's break it down, word by word.

[白く]{whitely } [白く]{whitely } [吹雪]{blizzard }[の]{[POSS]   }[よう]{likeness  }[な]{[MOD] } [そう]{that way  }[出逢う]{encounter  }[前]{before  }[から]{from  }[解って]{understanding/knowing  }[た]{was  } [この]{this  }[想い]{thought/feeling  }
    ↑
whitely, whitely, like a blizzard, knowing it from before meeting like that, this feeling

The whitely here isn't necessarily limited in scope to just the blizzard, but instead kind of sets the mood or scenery for the whole line.

Your second line:

[強く]{strongly  } [強く]{strongly  } [願い]{wish/desire  }[は]{[TOPIC]  }[強く]{strongly  } [繋ぐ]{tie together  }[よ]{[EMPH]} [その]{that/those  }[手]{hand(s)  }[を]{[OBJ]}
    ↑
strongly, strongly, the wishes/desires (are strong / strongly)*, [I?] tie [them] together! those hands

Here again, the strongly isn't necessarily limited in scope. Also, we have some poetic license, deliberately mixing things to allow for additional allusions and associations.

The asterisk here points out this key phrase. Sometimes an adverbial form is used conjunctively. In teaching materials for English-language readers, we are often taught that the conjunctive ("this and [something else]") form for "-i" adjectives needs to be ~くて, but in reality, folks sometimes use just ~く.

In the line of the poem, this phrase about the "wishes" or "desires" could be interpreted two ways -- as a separate statement using the conjunctive adverbial, wherein the speaker / poet is stating that their "wish/desire" simply is "strong, and...", or mixed into the rest of the line, wherein somehow the "wish/desire" is being strongly tied together with the hands, perhaps alluding to getting married. I suspect that both interpretations are intended, and that the ambiguity is deliberate.

Initial questions

Let's loop back to what you specifically asked.

Is it possible that there just may be a verb that is being implied?

Absolutely, that is possible. As poetry, though, that may have been deliberately omitted. Sometimes too, an adverb is used to establish the "mood" or "scene" for the current context. Consider English adverbial phrases used to start a sentence, such as "like the dawning of the day,..." or even just "surprisedly,..." I suspect that is how the adverbs are being used here.

I'm not sure why it's translated as a comparative adjective

I'm not either. I suspect the translator was taking a few liberties to try to create the target-language text. There's nothing here that implies any comparison, or any change in degree of adjectiveness.

... and if it does mean something like "White, white, like a blizzard," could the phrase have been written as "白い 白い 吹雪のような" instead?

It could, but the meaning does shift in doing so -- the scope of meaning for 白い would be limited to the 吹雪. Again, 白く 白く is not necessarily describing the blizzard, and appears to be coloring the entire scene and context. Even the 想い, implying a blankness or emptiness.

And the second line says "My wishes get stronger", but the "get" part is missing. Could it be that there is actually a になる phrase that is only implied?

No, the translation here is off. There's nothing at all in the source text about getting or becoming stronger. The 強く is describing either 1) the 願い themselves, 2) the manner in which その手 should be 繋ぐ-ed, or 3) both.

Notes

I'd like to comment again that poetry is difficult to interpret even in one's mother tongue, and poetry in translation is, unfortunately, an awful way to try to learn another language. If you're looking at this as a way of understanding the process of translating poetry, this is great exercise! :) If you're trying to understand the Japanese by looking at the translation, I'd recommend avoiding poetry altogether. If you're trying to understand techniques of expression in Japanese by looking at Japanese poetry, that's difficult, but potentially rewarding advanced stuff -- just don't get caught up in the translation. 😄


Please comment if the above does not address your question.

  • 「そう出会う前から解ってた」は split up from before meeting like that じゃないです。「そう」は the way じゃなくて "yes" "it is so", 「解ってた」は parted/split up じゃなくて "I knew", 「そうだ、出会う前から解っていた/知っていた」"Yes, I knew (this feeling) before we encounter/before I met you" って意味です – Chocolate Aug 1 '20 at 1:32
  • the wishes/desires, tie [them] together! <- これ、命令文に訳したってことですか? 「繋ぐよ」は命令じゃないです(命令なら「繋げよ」)。 – Chocolate Aug 1 '20 at 1:36
  • @Chocolate 、どうも!やはり間違いました、「解」を見て「わかれ」の意味を思い込んでしまいました。調整します。 – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 1 '20 at 1:41
  • @Chocolate, 「そう」は独立した場合は指摘するように "it is so" と理解しますが、「そう」と「出逢う」の間に空白や句読点が入るはずでしたが、なくても "it is so" となりますか? – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 1 '20 at 3:54
  • 別件の命令形ですが、代名詞を忘れましたので「tie them」が命令形になってしまいました。修正して代名詞を入れました。 – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 1 '20 at 4:01

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