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I came across this pattern in my N3 book: ~を・・・として / ~を・・・に => ~を・・・と考えて(認めて) Used to mean "regard (accept)~as..."

eg.

  1. 入院をきっかけとして私は健康に注意するようになった。
  2. 日本の世界地図は日本を中心に書かれている。
  3. この小説家は家族をテーマとして小説をたくさん書いている。

I read somewhere that AをBに mean A in B, but it does not make sense in these examples

  1. Admitted in a hospital -> IN/Regard/Accept -> a chance....
  2. Japan -> IN/Regard/Accept -> concentration....
  3. Family -> IN/Regard/Accept -> the theme.....

Can someone explain what the real meaning is in English

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  • What's your best attempt to translate these?
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 14 '21 at 20:36
  • AをBに could mean any number of things. It depends on the verb.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 14 '21 at 20:40
  • Forget about that "regard (accept)~as", it does not really make sense in my opinion. Does it really say so in your book? Just think about it normally, what is the object, what is the subject, etc. Try to translate, and then we will help you.
    – a20
    Oct 14 '21 at 20:41
  • 1
    If I were to rank these, I would say #2 should be the easiest to figure out, followed by #3. The use of きっかけ throws some people (at least me when I was first learning Japanese). So, I'd say #1 is the tougher of these to translate into reasonable sounding English.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 14 '21 at 20:41
  • 2
    Does this answer your question?: Meaning of ~を~に(して) / ~を~として / ~を~にする / ~を~とする / ~を~にした / ~を~とした They mean "with the hospitalization as a trigger" (→ "the hospitalization triggered me to ..."), "with Japan at the center", "with family as its theme" (→ "on the theme of family"), respectively.
    – naruto
    Oct 14 '21 at 21:41
2

Here are some clues that might help you understand the sentences. I'll write these as questions. Can you figure out how to answer these questions?

どうして私は健康に注意するようになったか。

日本の世界地図はどのようにかかれているか

この小説家はどんな小説をたくさん書いている。

Are you able to translate these questions into good English? If you are and are comfortable with that. Then you're on the way to making sense of the original sentences.


What makes the first sentence more of a challenge to translate is the phrase をきっかけとして.

きっかけ means an opportunity, the occasion for something to begin, an excuse. It's a very flexible word in Japanese and to translate it into English requires a bit of reflection.

In this context, I would render 入院をきっかけとして as "having been admitted to the hospital became the opportunity for ..."

It's not a particularly good translation because I'm inverting the word order and which part of the sentence is the main clause and which the subordinate clause. But some things are just said differently in Japanese.

For example, in English it is quite natural to say

Lots of Japanese like okonomiyaki.

And as a beginning Japanese student who speaks and thinks in English, you are likely to translate this into Japanese as follows:

たくさんの日本人はお好み焼きが好きです。

You'll be understood. But it isn't very natural sounding. This sort of expression sounds more natural as

お好み焼きが好きな日本人は多いいです。

I think it is useful to think of きっかけ this way too. In other words, you might want to flip the order of what's what from Japanese to English.


A couple other things to point out. 中心 here definitely does not mean concentration. 中心 just means center.

The other thing I think I see you doing is rushing in too quickly to decide what the object of the sentence is etc.

I would recommend you start from the main verb. Since that's always at the end of the sentence it is easy to identify. Pay attention to the verb. Is it active or passive? For example かかれている is a passive-form derived from the verb かく. And, in the case of maps, you draw a map. So, かかれている means "something is drawn".

Also, in noticing the verb, check to see whether the real verb is somehow more deeply embedded. In the first sentence it is not very useful to just notice なった as the main verb. The verbing is being done with 注意するようになった. And it'll be important to recognize that this is a kind of set phrase to express the idea that a habit (in this case) that hadn't previously been established began to be developed.

Next, what is the subject and object for the verb (if there is even an object). Don't latch onto the first が or を you see. Those might be embedded in a relative or subordinate clause. And keep in mind that は only marks the topic, but grammatically the topic can be the subject or object or just be the perspective from which the sentence is expressed.

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  • I find your second question a bit misleading because the sentence isn't (directly) about where Japan is drawn but how the map is drawn.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 15 '21 at 0:00
  • @aguijonazo I agree. Very much so. But, I couldn't think of a good way to phrase the question without making it more unwieldy. I figured thought that I was just leaving clues to help the OP and for that I decided the question was probably good enough. I'm open to suggestions.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 15 '21 at 0:07
  • @aguijonazo I had actually thought of completely changing the verb to おかれてある but that seemed to do even more damage.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 15 '21 at 0:09
  • I find it interesting, and a bit surprising, that you think #2 is easier to figure out than the other two. To me (as a native) #1 seemed the easiest, followed by #3, because the 〜を〜として part can be easily separated from the rest of the sentence as a subordinate clause. #2 seemed the hardest because its structure makes it easy to mistake 日本 for the object of the verb of the main clause rather than hidden する. I just thought the way you phrased your question didn't save learners from that mistake. I have no better alternative myself, though. I see it as a sign that #2 is indeed hard to figure out.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 15 '21 at 23:06
  • @aguijonazo You bring up an interesting point. I'm not surprised at all that #1 would seem easiest to a native speaker. Perhaps I myself have forgotten how challenging some of these structures were originally for me. The 日本を中心に part is so familiar to me--maybe because I geeked out for a while reading about cartography in Japanese? Regardless, your points are well taken, I'll rethink how I've answered the question a bit and see if I can better clarify things. Thank you as always for the input.
    – A.Ellett
    Oct 16 '21 at 0:04

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