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So in this sentence "最も効果の高い頭痛薬はどれですか" Which according to Kanshudo, translates to "What's your strongest type of headache pill?", 最も seems to fill the role of 高い and it seems redundant?

Can anyone explain to me why it would be used this way, and why Japanese seems to use a lot of words in some sentences that can translate to one word in English? I'm JLPT N4 and still trying to come to an understanding of how "good" translation works.

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  • What do you think it translate as if you omitted 高い? What about 最も?
    – istrasci
    Oct 12 at 15:50
  • I figured it would retain the same meaning since 最も means "the most/Extremely" and 高い is more like "expensive/High/tall"? But I'm open to being corrected as I may not understand their meanings fully
    – Fuad Juman
    Oct 12 at 15:56
  • I think the problem lies in your understanding of 効果.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 12 at 16:17
  • @aguijonazo I believe you're right, as I'm using kanshudo's definition of it as "effect; effectiveness; efficacy; result"
    – Fuad Juman
    Oct 12 at 16:46
  • 1
    @aguijonazo i see that now, thanks to A.Ellett's wonderful breakdown. i will delete the comment, thanks!
    – vsundae
    Oct 13 at 19:48
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There are a couple of things going on here.

First, you could certainly say the following.

効果の高い頭痛薬はどれですか

That would translate to

Which of your headache medicines are highly effective?

If you were instead to drop 高い, then you're left with an ungrammatical sentence

最も効果..??..頭痛薬はどれですか

First, how are you going to connect 効果 with 頭痛薬? You need some kind of glue here. Without 高い you'd need to have some other kind of connector.

But also, 最も is not describing 効果; it's an adverb. 最も is modifying 高い.

From this perspective,

最も効果の高い頭痛薬はどれですか

can be rendered

Which of your headache medicines are the most highly effective?

Consider Kanshudo's translation, which you provided,

What's your strongest type of headache pill?

Notice that strongest is a superlative. This is a grammatical feature of English that does not exist in Japanese. I'm not saying these ideas can't be expressed. Obviously they can, but there is no form an adjective can take to express this idea in Japanese. And even in English we have adjectives which also lack a superlative for: For example, consider the adjective excellent. You can't say "excellentest". To get the idea of a superlative you need a paraphrastic expression like "most excellent".

That's basically what's happening in the Japanese. たかい just means high. But, もっともたかい expresses the idea of higher or highest (translation depending on usage).

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  • I feel silly for asking this, but if I used の as a connector instead like this "最も効果の頭痛薬はどれですか" does that make it grammatically incorrect and not retain the same meaning?
    – Fuad Juman
    Oct 14 at 16:35
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    @FuadJuman First, you still have the problem of 最も. It's still an adverb. What is it modifying? Second, 効果の頭痛薬 sounds a bit like you're saying "the effect's headache medicine" or like you really meant to say 効果的の頭痛薬. This second piont, I'm less sure of (not being a native speaker). But the first point is still problematic (and is a bit hard to render in English to sound ungrammatical in the same way).
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 14 at 17:41
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    @FuadJuman - 最も効果の頭痛薬 is ungrammatical and makes no sense. It should be 最も効果的頭痛薬 (not の).
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 15 at 14:54

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