In Yorushika's song "Hitchcock"'s lyrics appears the sentence:


Which is translated as "Neither Nietche nor Freud wrote about how to fill this hole" by some dude on youtube, which logically makes sense, but doesn't based on my understanding of the Nai form. Were I to be shown this phrase out of context, I would in fact interpret it as in "they don't/will not write about", whereas referring to their lack of writing I would use "書いていない" instead. Could somebody explain to me what the logic (granted there is one) behind this wording choice is?

1 Answer 1


It may be easiest to think of this as an example of historical present. In short, 書かないんだ can sound more vivid and dramatic than 書かなかったんだ or 書いていないんだ.

As far as basic grammar goes, 書かない is definitely in present tense. But since historical present is much more common in Japanese, and since we all know ニーチェ and フロイト are people in the past, it's fine to ignore the original tense and use the past form to translate this line naturally.

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    For that matter, the "historical present" happens in English as well (albeit probably less commonly than in Japanese). Consider: "Neither Nietzsche nor Freud write about how to fill this hole". As with the Japanese, it makes the statement more immediate, more intimate somehow, as if we are closer to the speaker's point of view in experiencing Nietzsche's and Freud's writing. Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 18:12

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