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I'm not sure if I would consider myself advanced or n2 level just yet, but I bought a Japanese book recently (an autobiography) to get more input. I'm slowly translating words on Jisho, reading about a page a day, while also refusing to use google translate. I'm getting along fine for the most part, but there's this one sentence that I can't seem to wrap my head around. I can understand individual parts of it, but my head sort of freezes when it comes to combining it all into one sentence. I couldn't find other posts similar to this one, so I'm sorry if this isn't the appropriate website to post this.

馬の前に人参をぶら下げて走らせるたとえで言ったら僕にとって「もてたい」ってやつは人参でも無農薬有機栽培の人参、グルメレポーターが食べたら、「これはフルーツですか?」とよくわからないけど何かすごそうみたいなコメントを言ってしまう程の人参だった。"

From what I can understand, I think it means something close to this:"Concerning myself who says "like dangling a carrot in front of a horse to get it to run", "I want to be popular" type of guy will, even if the carrot is an organically grown carrot, even if a gourmet reviewer eats and thus "is this a fruit?" I will not understand but to the degree of commenting "something overdone" carrot it was." I know for sure this is wrong so I'm hoping someone can help explain to me how this sentence works, what I'm doing wrong, and if this isn't the correct site please let me know where I can go with this because I don't know where else to ask.

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Ok, so the overall structure is like this:

([a]…たとえで言ったら、) 僕にとって「もてたい」ってやつは 人参でも[b]…程の人参だった。

(Using the metaphor [a],) for me, "I want to be popular" was a carrot, (not just an ordinary carrot, but) a carrot like [b].

The first part of the sentence goes:

馬の前に人参をぶら下げて走らせるたとえで言ったら

Lit. If I say regarding the metaphor where you dangle a carrot in front of a horse to get it to run,. This may sound verbose, probably because the "carrot and stick" symbolisation is less frequent in Japanese.


僕にとって「もてたい」ってやつは …人参だった

For me, "I want to be popular (among girls: assuming this guy is heterosexual man)" was the carrot.


人参でも無農薬有機栽培の人参、グルメレポーターが食べたら、「これはフルーツですか?」とよくわからないけど何かすごそうみたいなコメントを言ってしまう程の人参

This part is tricky (and creative), but it just emphasises what a great carrot (i.e. motivation) it [the desire to be popular] is. Let's read it bit by bit.

人参でも (1)無農薬有機栽培の人参、(2) [グルメレポーターが食べたら…程の]人参

Among carrots, it's (1) an organic carrot, (2) a carrot so amazing that...

無農薬有機栽培 vegetables are, in general, considered of a higher quality, more expensive, tastier, classier, etc. I'm guessing this is the same anywhere.

グルメレポーターが食べたら、

when a gourmet reviewer eats it --- (Imagine a TV show, where a cast eats an carrot, and says...)

「これはフルーツですか?」と…コメントを言ってしまう

"Is this a fruit?" ("Hey, this carrot is so sweet and tasty as it is --- it's like eating a fruit of some sort!")

「よくわからないけど何かすごそう」みたいな

which (the comment above) is actually like "I don't really understand the detail, but it seems great".

This part about the gourmet reporter might need an explanation. At least in Japan, we often see TV shows where the crew visit farmers, eat their product, and get amazed at how tasty they are, especially sweet, surprisingly so when compared to vegetables we buy at supermarkets. {I'm somehow feeling that the same thing goes in other countries as well...} The 「よくわからないけど何かすごそう」 part is a slightly cynical reference to these casts, who don't necessarily appreciate the real difference.


Anyway, to sum up ---

Consider the metaphor, where you dangle a carrot in front of a horse to get it to run: For me, "I want to be popular" was the carrot --- an organic one, that kind of carrot which they say "Is this a fruit?" ---which is like "I don't understand well but it seems great"--- in the gourmet programmes on TV.

| improve this answer | |
  • Great answer. For me the explanation about why someone may think a carrot is a fruit was key. – user3856370 Sep 6 at 13:13
  • @user3856370 Thank you, I am very honoured. In case of bad grammar or clarification needed, please let me know or go ahead and edit it freely. – Yosh Sep 6 at 13:34
  • Oh my god you're a hero. I would've never figured out that よくわからない part on my own. Now the rest of the book makes more sense, thanks. – arbol3000 Sep 6 at 18:32

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