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日本で最も有名な小説家は? と問われれば、多くの人が「太宰 治」と答えるでしょう。

IF [と+ verb(1)] asked, many "would answer" [と+verb(2)] Osamu.

OR translated as

IF [と+verb(1)] asked, many answer "with" [と+ after noun] Osamu.

  1. Since the first と seems unnecessary, since the IF is already expressed in the conditional verb conjugation, I ask is it a literary style to begin this type of sentence with と or is it linked to the second と+verb as a standard grammatical construct?

  2. What is the function of the second と, either [with] the noun, or why the second [と+verb]?

Thank you in advance for your efforts and time in clarifying this matter.

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    Another quote must come before this passage, doesn't it? – broken laptop Aug 6 '20 at 11:49
  • Are you sure that 日本で最も有名な小説家は? isn't also a quote in parenthesis? That seems to be the question being quoted by と. – kandyman Aug 6 '20 at 19:57
  • @kandyman It doesn't need parenthesized to be a quote, and this actually is a quote. – broken laptop Aug 7 '20 at 3:12
  • @broccolifacemask-cloth Even with the question mark included? – kandyman Aug 7 '20 at 6:46
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    @kandyman It's not uncommon at all to insert ? or ! in casual writing e.g. これは!という商品, どうして?と思ったら. You can find them infinitely on Twitter. – broken laptop Aug 7 '20 at 7:05
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The ambiguity may come from the fact that there are, in fact, 2 quotes here and the author is using 2 different, yet equally legitimate methods. Additionally, the logic of an idiom-based translation must not focus on the target language (see end of item 2). The differences are explained in item 3 below, but would only constitute a choice of literary style if the parentheses were at issue.

  1. The first quote does not use parenthesis, but simply uses と, as in the question's example: 日本で最も有名な小説家は? と (...) . Therefore, the first と does not introduce the verbal phrase as "IF", but the conditional tense does convey this on its own: 問われれば、

  2. The second use of と is to put the reply 太宰 治 in quotes, this time using parentheses 「太宰 治」と. Therefore, the second と does not mean "WITH", as in the incorrect understanding of と as "reply WITH Osamu Dazai".

  3. The parentheses are used in conjunction with standard usage of と, when quoting the specific, direct response uttered by 多くの人, or presumably uttered by them (in this case), whereas the question itself, "Who is Japan's most famous novelist?" is not a direct utterance. Therefore, parentheses were not used in the first use of と.

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