1

「恋するカレン」is a song by 大滝詠一 from his 1981 album A Long Vacation. Lyrics for reference.

The part I am confused about is, who exactly is the actor i.e., person doing 恋する and who is it directed towards?

Possible translations I could think of

  1. Love Karen
  2. I love you Karen
  3. Karen in Love

1.Sounds too vague in my opinion. 2. doesn't seem like it because he could have used 恋しているカレン or maybe 愛しているよカレン instead to make it more obvious (I might be wrong here). 3. seems to be the closest translation when I eliminate 1 and 2

1

I think it's "Karen in Love", or more verbosely, "Karen who is in love (with someone else)". In a longer phrase with enough contexts, 恋するカレン could also mean "Karen who I love" (e.g., 僕が恋するカレン definitely means this). However, the title has to make sense on its own, and "Karen in love" is the only possible interpretation if seen in isolation.

2

If my interpretation of the lyrics is correct, I would say it has a double meaning.

The first would be "Karen, my love" (or "Karen whom I love"). This is obvious from how he talks about her:

  • 誰か話しかけてもぼくの眼は上の空 君に釘づけさ → No matter how much others (women) talk to me, my eyes are (absent-mindedly) fixated on you
  • OH! KAREN 誰より君を愛していた → Oh Karen, I loved you more than anyone
  • OH! KAREN 振られたぼくより哀しいそうさ哀しい女だね君は → Oh Karen, you are sadder than me (who was rejected), Truly you are a sad woman

The other meaning is "Karen in love". He sings about how he's watching her with this other man, but the other man doesn't really love her

  • 君が彼の背中に手をまわし踊るのを壁で見ていたよ → I was watching you (from the wall/side of the dance floor) (slow) dance with him; your hand (rubbing) his back
  • Oh! KAREN 淋しい片想いだけが今も淋しいこの胸を責めるよ → Oh Karen, only (the sight of) a/your lonely unrequited love could torture this lonely heart of mine
  • ふと眼があうたびせつない色のまぶたを伏せて頬は彼の肩の上 → Every time our eyes meet (presumably as she dances with the guy, and the singer is watching her from the side), your lonely/painful eyes lower while you rest your head on his shoulder
  • かたちのない優しさそれよりも見せかけの魅力を選んだ → You've chosen a fake type of charm over a/my formless affection (sorry, I can't think of a good way to translate this)
  • I have never seen a Japanese person intentionally make a relative clause have a double meaning. I didn't even know Japanese relative clauses is often ambiguous. – naruto Sep 22 '20 at 4:03
  • @naruto: 解説の筋が通らないんですか?歌詞読みました?今は俺の理解力を疑っとる… – istrasci Sep 22 '20 at 4:19
  • OP has asked about this song before, so I understand the context. Your translation seems good to me. But in this case, it's about the title, which has to be interpreted without context. I don't think this title contains a tricky hidden message. – naruto Sep 22 '20 at 4:24
  • I disagree that it has to be interpreted without context. There are plenty of movie names with double meanings. I'm sure there are plenty of songs too, but it's too late for me to look. – istrasci Sep 22 '20 at 5:08
  • That's of course correct (シン・ゴジラ came to my mind). but my point is that Japanese people do not play on words around relative clauses for some reason. If a native speaker sees 恋するカレン, no one would think it may have two possible interpretations...There may be some grammatical reason I'm missing, though. – naruto Sep 22 '20 at 5:17

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