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本田さんに仕事を分担させた。
We assigned the work to Mrs Honda. (given translation)

I do not understand the English translation. I thought 分担する meant 'to divide amongst / to apportion'. So my translation of this would be "We allowed Mrs Honda to divide up the work', i.e we let Mrs Honda decide who was going to do each task.

Why is my translation wrong and how do we get to the given translation?

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分担する here means to pitch in, do one's part, or pull one's weight. The to divvy up sense is related to this.

If I say 「俺だって、半分の家事を分担している」, I am telling the listener I have been doing half of the chores.

本田さんに仕事を分担させた。

means [I/we/or some subject] asked 本田さん to pitch it/contribute/help with work.

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    Thanks. "pitch in, do one's part, or pull one's weight" sounds reasonable, but any thoughts on why it is in causative form? And why my translation could not be expected to apply? Oct 27, 2021 at 22:39
  • Actually, I see it now. 'make someone take on work' = 'assign work'. Still curious about whether the right context would allow my translation or whether it is just completely wrong (and why). Oct 27, 2021 at 22:43
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    @user3856370 - Your interpretation is also possible in certain contexts because 分担する doesn’t say who divides whatever is divided. Honda-san may have been allowed to divide some task and share it with other people (not with the speaker).
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 28, 2021 at 2:31
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    Your answer is correct and loyal to the original sense of the word, whose core meaning is indeed 担う (to take on). I just wanted to point out the same sentence could be interpreted the way the OP did in real life. It may even be considered an incorrect usage by some.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 28, 2021 at 2:46
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    The core meaning of 分担する is "to work on something in a shared manner" rather than "to assign". AさんはBさんに仕事を分担させた usually means A made B partially take on A's task (i.e., A shared the task with B), but it may mean A made B share B's task with someone else. I think this ambiguity is basically due to the fact that it is not explicitly stated whose job this 仕事 is referring to. (Of course it can be inferred from the context in practice.)
    – naruto
    Oct 28, 2021 at 4:15

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