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I came across the following sentence in a text about 俳句 (emphasis, translation and words in square brackets mine):

携帯電話で俳句を送り合って遊ぶ若者もいますし、外国人が日本人以上にすばらしい俳句を表現することもあります。 There are youngsters who play sending haiku to each other's mobile phones, and there's foreigners who can even make up more splendid haiku than Japanese [themselves].

I know that 以上 means "more", "above" and/or "beyond". I proposed one translation to English, but I am unsure of how 以上に applies to the sentence, and I doubt between 2 possibilities. Which is the right one, and why? Could both options be understood from the original text? If not, how would you express the other possibility in Japanese?

A. There are foreigners that write haikus more splendid than haikus written by Japanese people. (Foreigners' haikus are more splendid than Japanese's haikus)

B. Beyond Japanese people, there are also foreigners that write splendid Haiku (Foreigners' and Japanese's haikus would be equally splendid)

I opened a related question dealing with the usage of に after 以上 concerning the same sentence, please check it out too.

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    I'm not sure where you get the "beyond" meaning. Weblio's entry for 以上に said it simply means "more" or "above."
    – Jimmy Yang
    Jun 10 at 19:10
  • Just to clarify, you understand the sentence is comparing haiku and haiku? I mean, you're not asking about this issue, right? 私と同じ or 私のと同じ when comparing possession
    – naruto
    Jun 11 at 1:18
  • @Jimmy Yang Well, that's precisely the point of the discussion, I didn't thought of looking up 以上に as a unit, and searched 以上 instead. You can see the 3rd entry here. It makes sense that 以上に as a unit wouldn't mean "beyond", thanks for that.
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 11 at 1:19
  • @Naruto, after reading your linked question, I understand that it's the same case. No, I didn't fully understand it's the haiku what is being compared here. This means it would definitely be the case A, wouldn't it?
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 11 at 1:26
  • Edited my translation attempts to clarify.
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 11 at 1:28

1 Answer 1

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This sentence is comparing haiku made by foreigners and haiku made by Japanese, so it means A. (Note that comparing haiku and Japanese people themselves makes little sense. See: 私と同じ or 私のと同じ when comparing possession)

Since 以上 is used directly before 素晴らしい, "more splendid (than haiku written by Japanese)" is the natural interpretation here. If there were no adjectives, 以上に can mean "more often" as in your interpretation B.

  • 私は彼以上に速く走った。
    I ran faster than he did. (not "I ran fast more often than he did")
  • 私は彼以上に走った。
    I ran more often than he did. / I ran longer than he did.

Sometimes, a sentence like 私は彼女以上に面白い話を知っている ("I know more interesting stories than she/hers") can be ambiguous in isolation (this can be either about the number of stories or about the qualities of the stories), but the context can usually tell the intended meaning.

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