The translation is "If you say charcoal" in google translate. Is it correct? Is there any other words from it the meaning/translation of 炭って言ったら?

  • 5
    Please add a bit more context. Japanese is grammatically different to English, so it's possible that the rest of what you intend to say will affect the way you would express the entire sentence in Japanese. Mar 13, 2021 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


Yes 炭って言ったら could be translated "If you say charcoal", but it could also be translated in a number of other manners depending on the context. Japanese is highly context dependent. And, since Japanese bares no relation to English, how things are expressed in one language might need to be reworded considerably in the other.

炭って言ったら as "if you say charcoal" seems a very literal translation. Grammatically, this wording could be used to introduce the topic of 炭. This could also have been done by saying 炭は which without the rest of the sentence is impossible to translate into English other than "charcoal".

So, in short, within the context of what's being said about 炭 (or what has already been mentioned) the choice of how to translate it into English this phrase could vary considerably.

Consider the following sentence:


On the surface without any further context, this normally might be translated as "The cat ate it". But change the context slightly, and this exact same wording could be translated as "I ate the cat". Context completely determines which meaning was meant: context is necessary to disambiguate Japanese. (Though if you're not used to Japanese, you might be scratching your head how that could be.)

But the reason I give this example is for you to play with. Put it into Google translate. It'll give you a clunky "Cat ate". But, it won't bother to tell you, "I could have gotten this completely wrong and it might really mean I ate cat" (to stick with some clunkiness). In fact, when I gave it context (どちらを食べた?), Google definitely got it wrong. For a native speaker, if they read

A: どちらを食べた?

B: 猫は食べた。

which of the two opposing readings would be understood without any ambiguity.

Something similar could be going on with the phrase which you plucked out from its context.

Google translate really does a horrible job with Japanese. It's better than it used to be, but it still has a long way to go. So, whether Google translate got it right or not is hard to say. Perhaps. But without a context, nothing more can be said.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .