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アトラクション要素として、店内にメリーゴーランドでも設置したのだろう。場末の居酒屋は他店との差別化大変なんだろうな。その経営努力、わからんでもない。

Hi. I know the underlined sentence means "Differentiating their izakaya restaurant from others is difficult.". And some say the bold に is a mistake, which should be が. Some say the に is a colloquialism to use -ni to introduce the aim of an endeavor for 大変だ, as in "最初はすごく理解されるのに大変だったけれど、"(I don't quite understand this explanation).

Could you please shed some light on the function of this に? Personally I don't really think it is a mistake, but I can't find this usage in my textbook ether.

Thank you.

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  • I am assuming that 大変 here is a suru verb although it is not in the verb form. This would justify the use of ni, since it takes a adverb to modify a verb and you need ni after a noun to change it into adverb. So I would say that the ni here is just changing 差別化 from a noun to a adverb – Zeyuan Aug 30 '20 at 19:26
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If I had to choose a definition from a dictionary, it'd be this:

動作・作用の目的を表す。「見舞いに行く」「迎えに行く」

But it is far from enough specific for your question, I guess.

The explanation you got "to introduce the aim of an endeavor" is basically correct, that the expression implies that someone is doing something at the moment, and tells what condition they are in (by adjective), trying to achieve or finish what (by に).

先生はテストの採点に忙しい The teacher is busy marking the tests.
監督は決定力の強化に熱心だ The manager is eager in improving scoring ability.

The adjective has to describe a certain manner of an action, so "action-less" kind of words like mental adjectives are not allowed.

× 私は日本語の勉強に面白い

場末の居酒屋は他店との差別化に大変なんだろうな。
"I guess an izakaya in an outlying area must be desperate for differentiating itself from others."
"I guess an izakaya in an outlying area must try the hard way to differentiate itself from others."
"I guess an izakaya in an outlying area always struggles to differentiate itself from others."

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    Honestly your comment of “The adjective has to describe a certain manner of an action, so "action-less" kind of words like mental adjectives are not allowed.” describes very well why I personally find this sentence a little awkward (though understandable)... You can 熱心に強化する but you can’t 大変に差別化する (or at least it seems like a stretch). – Darius Jahandarie Aug 31 '20 at 13:33
  • @DariusJahandarie Yeah, it's fairly understandable to me but I can't deny that it should better be something like ~に大わらわ or ~に苦労している. (btw using 大変に as an adverb only makes it a different meaning :) – broken laptop Aug 31 '20 at 15:20
  • @Nanigashi Thank you! I'll correct them. – broken laptop Aug 31 '20 at 15:30
  • You're very welcome! And thanks as always for taking the time to write such a clear and informative answer; I always learn so much from your posts. – Nanigashi Aug 31 '20 at 15:31

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