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I am reading a book in Japanese and the following sentence came up:

今日「私は魔女よ」と宣言したところで危険はなく、うらやましがられる、せいぜい無邪気な気まぐれだと、困った顔をされるぐらいでしょう

The first part I translated as "nowadays, even if you declare 'I am a witch' there is no danger"

The second part I translated as "you may seem envious" but I don't understand how か changes the meaning of the sentence it is attached to. I can't see the meaning of the question in it.

I have a similar issue with the third part. I translated it as "at most an innocent whim". In this case I have no idea what だと is supposed to mean though.

Just to be sure, I translated the last part as "maybe you have kind of a troubled face".

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  • Moreover, are you referring to the same person by “you” throughout your translation?
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 15, 2022 at 2:35
  • I thought the general sense of the sentence was "Even if you declare you are a witch there is no danger. You may seem envious, or declare it as an innocent whim"... in this case I woudn't know how to fit the last part them. It makes no sense for the 'witch' to have a troubled face. It makes more sense for the people he/she say it to to make a face I suppose.
    – NeonGabu
    Apr 15, 2022 at 2:41
  • Have you learned passive forms?
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 15, 2022 at 2:42
  • No, I have not yet.
    – NeonGabu
    Apr 15, 2022 at 2:48

1 Answer 1

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That か simply means “or.” It connects A and B below.

A: うらやましがられる

B: 無邪気な気まぐれだと、困った顔をされる

Both are using the final verb in the passive voice. We get the following by converting them back into the active voice.

A’: うらやましがる

B’: 無邪気な気まぐれだと、困った顔をする

These are two things other people might do to the person who declared they are a witch. It is they who get envious or make a troubled face, not the person who made the declaration. The passive forms above describe this from the perspective of the person who made the declaration. That person might receive such reactions from other people.

だと consists of だ and と.

と quotes the preceding part. Some verb like 思う is omitted after と. It is also other people who think it (= the declaration) is an innocent, or childish, whim.

だ is the plain form of です. Since 気まぐれ is a noun (or a na-adjective), it is usually followed by だ when it comes at the end of a quoted clause (though it is sometimes omitted).

B’’: 「無邪気な気まぐれだ」と(思って)、困った顔をする

So what the sentence is saying is something like this.

Nowadays, even if you declared, “I am a witch,” there would no danger. People would express their envy or, at most, make a troubled face thinking it is a childish whim.

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  • Thank you so much for this excellent explanation 🙂
    – NeonGabu
    Apr 16, 2022 at 5:10

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