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The below is an excerpt from 君の名は novel, specifically from a newspaper article about a comet that destroyed the city.

町の南側は比較的被害がすくなかったが、被害を免れた千人ほどの住民についても、その後は町からの転出者が相次いだ。一年を待たずして自治体としての維持が困難となり、隕石落下から十四ヶ月後、糸守町は名実ともに消滅した。

I have a hard time making sense of the whole sentence with についても. Is it related to the verb に付く which means to follow someone? If that's case, what ても means? Also, does 相次ぐ here means to take over leadership of citizens or to join other people who is also leaving the city?

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To answer the question directly: as far as I can tell, it effectively is flowery language that doesn't add meaning - Xについても is barely distinguishable from just Xも. The ついて here is an expression for "regarding", but a topic-marking particle (も or は) already more or less has that function.


Let's consider the clause by itself.

被害を免れた千人ほどの住民についても

First, we tokenize by looking for complete words (individual kanji with or without okurigana, or kanji compounds, or recognizable sequences of katakana or hiragana) and particles:

被害 を 免れた 千人 ほど の 住民 に ついて も

Jisho can help with this process; for example, if you try looking for the part you bolded, it will be broken down into について and も, and also give you a dictionary definition for an expression. That helps understand which つく we're talking about, but it isn't perfect grammatically. We know from context that に is a particle. But the search helps us understand that も is a particle here as well, and that ついて is atomic - we can't consider the meaning of ても because that isn't how the sentence breaks down. (Similarly, there isn't really a verb "に付く" as you proposed; there is 付く preceded by a に-marked "indirect object".

Next, accumulate parts left to right:

被害 - damage, を-marked 免れた - simple past of 免れる, to escape; thus 被害を免れた is "damage was avoided", or rather (since it's active) " avoided damage".

千人ほど - about a thousand people (ほど is listed as a particle, but it might be easier to think of here as a noun suffix)

Now we have a stand-alone clause immediately preceding a noun; thus it's attributive, describing the noun. 被害を免れた千人ほど is "about a thousand people who avoided damage".

の - we already have a noun, so this can't be a nominalizer; we just gave a fairly in-depth description of that noun, so naturally we're using it to categorize. That is: we're about to have something which can be described as "about a thousand people who avoided damage".

住民 - citizens. Thus: "the citizens, about a thousand in number, who avoided damage." (It might seem redundant to describe the citizens as people; the idea here is that 人 is a counter for people.)

Now to the meat of it: that group is the indirect object of つく; then the verb is put into the connective te-form; then all of that is a も topic for the remainder of the sentence. The つく used in expressions like this is 就く; but this usage is idiomatic, and normally written in kana. The sense - as I understand it - is that the reader metaphorically "departs" towards the (に-marked) concept described. (It's not really any weirder than the natural English translation of "regarding"; after all, you aren't physically looking at anything!) We use the te-form as a nominalizer here (something like a gerund in English; whereas when we use the te-form to connect to another verb, it's more like a gerundive).

Thus: "regarding, as well, the thousand or so citizens who avoided damage".

For the complete sentence, I get something like: "Although there had been little damage to the south side of the town, as for the thousand or so citizens who emerged unscathed, their departure from the south followed soon thereafter as well.". (More literally for the first part: "Although, as regards the south side of the town, the damage was slight,".) The "as well" should refer to the citizens rather than the departure, but the sentence wants to talk about the departure rather than saying that the citizens departed; it's difficult to capture that in English.

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  • Thanks! I understand bit better than before. But if Xについても is interpreted as Xも, doesn't it make the 町からの転出者 part redundant?
    – Jimmy Yang
    Jan 4 at 0:49
  • I mean, in English you can simply say "they departed X-ly", or you can say "their departure was X"; the Japanese structure here mirrors the latter, and it seems like the intent is to speak in that kind of fancy (though informal) manner. But you do still need the 転出者 bit, because we haven't previously established that the citizens are 転出ing. (Or maybe I just need a dictionary that has 転出者 as a compound.) I guess the 町からの part is redundant in that obviously 町 is the starting point (since that's where the slight damage occurred). Jan 4 at 0:55
  • Ah, I see. 者 isn't a nominalizer for an act, of course; that compound can only mean something like "refugee". Yeah, the whole thing does seem a bit redundant. Jan 4 at 0:58

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