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I was working on a mock JLPT question requiring me to choose one best option where あからさま is used correctly:

1 お酒を飲んだので顔があからさまになっている。
2 あの勝負はあからさまな八百長だ。
3 言い訳をしても事実はあからさまだ。
4 この料理はあからさまに美味しい。

I think options 1 and 4 are off the table. I chose option 3, but the correct answer turned out to be option 2.

あからさま reminds me of 明らか but I fail to grasp their difference. I looked up the definitions:

あからさま 包み隠さず、明らかなさま。また、露骨なさま。
明らか はっきりとしていて疑う余地のないさま。明白なさま。

Option 2 seems to say 'That match was an obvious/undisguised set-up.'

Option 3, if used 明らか instead, probably means 'Even you come up with excuses, the truth is clear/obvious.' Which also makes sense (to me), especially when the definition of あからさま equated it with 明らか, so I don't exactly understand why あからさま is wrong here. Must あからさま suggest something bad is out in the open, like option 2?

My questions:

  • Why can't あからさま be used in option 3, and can 明らか be used in options 2 and 3?
  • How do I properly differentiate between あからさま and 明らか?
  • Is there a positive, negative, or neutral connotation to あからさま and 明らか?
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    The answer is 2. In my understanding, 明らか means obvious, clear with no doubt, while あからさま denotes overtly exposed or too explicit with usually a negative connotation. One way to wrap your head around あからさま is to remembering it as synonymous with 露骨な. – user48754 May 23 at 10:46
  • Does 露骨 fit well in a Chinese translation for #2 but not for #3 by any chance? – aguijonazo May 23 at 13:44
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    @aguijonazo I guess so. Indeed cannot collocate 露骨 with 事実 in Chinese. – L Parker May 23 at 14:17
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あからさま is used to describe obvious or undisguised manners in which someone does something or shows some emotion. It’s mostly interchangeable with 露骨.

Here are some examples.

彼はあからさまに嫌な顔をした。

彼のあからさまな差別にはうんざりする。

It doesn’t go well with 事実 because a truth is not something you do in an obvious way.

明らかな八百長 is a fix that seems obvious (in a more or less neutral sense), while あからさまな八百長 is one carried out in a blatant manner.

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In short, I would consider あからさま and 明らか as being analogue to “blatant” (slightly pejorative, subjective, perhaps referring to something that was or should have been veiled) and “clearly” (more neutral, objective) in English.

I think exactly because option 3 is talking about an objective reality 事実, there 明らか would be a better fit. However, as something undesirable is going on in option 2 - the match fixing — you can use あからさま to communicate those additional meanings.

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It is not so detailed answer though, No.2 seems the best answer in the option since "Fix in a match"([八百長]{やおちょう}) is hidden. Therefore, describing it to criticize with あからさま sounds perfect with the definition of the list (i.e The fix of a match seems obvious for the speaker to criticize).

Choosing one in multiple choices in a language exam could be ambiguous. Probably No.1 is bit too off if it's saying cheek is red due to drinking sake. It should be [赤]{あか}ら without さま. (i.e. お酒を飲んだので顔が赤らになっている。)

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