I am looking for some assistance in understanding in first person narration when the narrator is speaking about themselves, or 'we'. Much of the time the meaning is unambiguous from context, however when a statement appears ambiguous (at least to me) it is not so clear.

To provide some context, the narrator works in a pub and has been serving and it is nearly closing time.





Now this final sentence does not make it clear who it is referring to, nor is there an obvious specific person who has been drinking. Having said that, I think it is just a statement with no one in particular in mind, but is there something I am missing that makes this obvious to native speakers, or is there always this sort of ambiguity for Japanese natives and they just unconsciously assume one way or the other based on the previous context?

I mean in this context, the possibilities are an 'I' however this does not really fit in with the tone of the rest of the sentence (気怠い時間が流れる), which leads me to a more generic interpretation referring to the people who have drank.

  • If the story is told from the POV of a character in the story, I don't see any reason why it is not that character/person that is being described. Also エールのアルコールが体の隅々まで行き渡り sounds very intimate, most likely coming from the narrator.
    – Eddie Kal
    Mar 16, 2021 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


No subject is dropped in the sentence in question, and there is no Japanese-specific ambiguity in this sentence. Its interpretation purely depends on who has been drinking in this scene. I can say it's not directly specified in your excerpt, but it may be explained in previous sentences. We all know an employee of a pub usually doesn't drink together with customers, but there can be exceptions. If you are certain that there is no hint as to who has been drinking, perhaps the sentence was written with no one in particular in mind.

  • Perhaps my language was incorrect, there is no subject dropped but I think it would be fair to say that there is information dropped (in comparison to a language like English). In English I could never imagine 体 being used in a sentence without something to indicate whose body.
    – Ajax
    Mar 16, 2021 at 13:17
  • 1
    @Ajax It's true that Japanese speakers don't "redundantly" use the equivalents of my, his, our and so on before each instance of 体. But that doesn't mean Japanese is a language that doesn't even allow you to tell whose body. It can be inferred from the context in nearly all cases. Without reading the entire scene, I cannot tell whether you have missed the context or this is just a poorly written sentence.
    – naruto
    Mar 16, 2021 at 14:02

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