I've sort of thought of making sentences for words in my custom Anki deck to sort of improve my sentence writing skills.

Now, the word is 矛盾{むじゅん}, which means "contradiction"

The sentence I've come up with is:

あなたは歩くの矛盾んだよ (You are a walking contradiction.)

Was my translation of "walking contradiction" correct?

I kind of feel that 歩き矛盾 or 歩く矛盾 works too, although I'm not that sure. The latter seems somewhat correct as a noun phrase, but the former somehow sounds more...natural(?), although I'm not sure since it seems more like a compound word I just invented, so it feels kind of wrong too. Please correct me on this.

Also if there is a more direct Japanese translation to the phrase, please tell.


Correct one: 歩く矛盾 (Verb in 連体形 + noun. No idea what 連体形 is called in English)

"歩くの矛盾" could colloquially mean "the fact that you walk is a contradiction", but in this case you should preferably say "歩くのが矛盾" or "歩くのは矛盾", i.e. with は or が, and as always they have slightly different meanings, but I'm gonna skip the explanation since it's outside the focus of your question.

If you keep saying "歩き矛盾", you might at some point succeed in making Japanese people believe that such an expression exists, because there's in principle nothing wrong about it. But in the current state it's difficult to make them understand what you exactly want to say.

And finally, あなたは歩く矛盾だよ is not only a great translation, but also sounds so perfectly natural that it's hard to believe that it was originally created by a Japanese-learner.

  • 2
    The 連体形【れんたいけい】 is often called the "attributive form" in English, since this is the form (形【けい】) used to connect (連【れん】) an inflecting word (a word that has a 形) to a non-inflecting word (体言【たいげん】), and thereby describe some attribute (quality) of that non-inflecting word. Mar 12 at 19:44

First, I do not think it is a good idea to use the sentences you make yourself to familiarize yourself with how a word is used. The entire point of having example sentences is so that you can understand how certain words are used. Even if you were to translate English phrases into Japanese, doing by directly translating the words like this does not lead to a natural result. IMO, you should be using native sentences anyways because those are the people who have the most natural grasp on the language.

Following this line of thought, you cannot just "create compound nouns" in Japanese, just like how you cannot just combine two words in English and expect them to make sense. Nouns like 持ち主 appear in the dictionary, and are not just made up on the spot. Words like 歩き方 and 喋り方 work because 方 is a suffix used with the 連用形 / -masu stem.

Especially for idioms like "walking contradiction" you should not expect a direct translation to Japanese to make any sense. Even thinking about the other way around, you shouldn't expect Japanese idioms to directly translate to English either. For example translating 足元をみる (to take advantage of someone) makes no sense translated into "looking at someone's steps/feet".

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