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I've been studying Japanese for years, but I still run into everyday language constructs that knock the wind out of me, and make me wonder if I slept through an entire week of Japanese class...

I stress that I am not talking about archaic Japanese, or technical writing, etc. I'm talking about everyday stuff.

Here's the latest:

日本のここが辛い。

I understand this means something like this (but please do correct me if I'm wrong!):

This is what is harsh about Japan.

What sends me for a loop is the "のここ" bit, because I expect the の particle to be followed by a noun, whereas I have always known ここ as something closer to an adverb.

OK, I know that in English (for example) one sometimes comes across the expression "the here and now", which renders "here" into a noun. Maybe something like this is going on with "のここ"?

My question is: does this contstruction generalize? Can one use phrases like "のそこ" or "のあそこ" or "の今" or "の明日", etc?

Can someone point to me to a detailed discussion of the linguistics/grammar that would encompass the language pattern exemplified by the quotation above?


EDIT: After I posted my question, I found the following example online:

ここの冬はひどく寒いです。

While I can't say that this use of ここの strikes me as terribly familiar, I do find it quite intelligible. It does not have the same disconcerting effect for me that "日本のここが辛い" has. Arguably, this second sentence also nominalizes ここ, but note the difference in ordering: "ここの" vs. "のここ".

I can't quite explain why I find the first ("のここ") nominalization so much more bewildering than the second one ("ここの").

I suspect, however, that perhaps the translation into English that I gave to the first sentence is contributing to my disorientation. A literal translation like "Japan's 'here' is harsh" would sound a bit odd semantically (something I am by now quite used to when I read Japanese), but not all that odd syntactically. (BTW, if that literal translation were indeed correct, I would interpret it to mean something like "Being in Japan is harsh" or "Present reality in Japan is harsh".)

My point is this: the proper translation of my original example is a key aspect of this question. If my translation is wrong, it could be that the correct translation, by itself, may suffice to dispel my confusion.

Therefore, I decided to add translation to this question's tags, even though translation was not my original motivation for posting it.

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    It may be simplest to think of ここ as "this place/part" (noun). 日本のここ = "this part of Japan", ここの冬 = "winter of this place".
    – naruto
    Apr 12 at 0:57

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Your confusion probably stems from that ここ is usually translated here but is actually a pronoun as a Japanese word. In fact, ここ usually appears with particles and behaves like a noun.

On the other hand, 今日 or 明日 looks more like a normal noun, but it is often used adverbially as in 今日学校に行った. This is usually called 名詞の副詞的用法, which can be seen in English as in I have lots of things to do this month.

So from the Japanese perspective, it is more 'adverb-ization of nouns'. Expressions like '..の今/明日/ここ' are all grammatical. Regarding Xのここ/そこ, these mean literally this/that point of X.


I guess the English today is originally an adverb which is turned into a noun, so an instance of 'adverb nominalization' in some sense.

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    I had suspected that translation may be the key to this question, but I did not expect it would be in such a straightforward way! Thank you! (BTW, I wish I could up-vote your avatar. It's from my all-time favorite Japanese print.)
    – kjo
    Apr 11 at 14:48

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