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Context: the girls need to hide in a shop run by a man who always makes them buy something if they go in in normal times.

もし、あの店に逃げ込んだら、ただでさえとぼしいまる子の財布への打撃はさけられない。
If they took refuge in that shop the blow to Maruko's meager wallet could not be avoided.

I don't know how to interpret ただでさえ in this sentence. The dictionary says "at the best of times" but that doesn't fit with my translation. It only works if I omit the conditional phrase: "At the best of times the blow to Maruko's wallet could not be avoided".

However, I'm not confident about the rest of my translation. I'm unsure about さけられない. Is the verb actually 避ける? Is it potential or passive? I've used both which makes me think I've got it wrong.

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  • What do you think ただでさえ modifies?
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 26 at 17:43
  • @aguijonazo I'm really not sure. I assume it adverbially modifies さけられない Jun 26 at 17:53
  • @aguijonazo Ah I think I've just seen your point. it modifies とぼしい. It is a wallet that is meagre at the best of times. Is that right? Jun 26 at 17:55

1 Answer 1

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This ただでさえ modifies とぼしい. Her wallet is meager even at the best of times. ただ means "ordinary; usual", so the literal translation of ただでさえ is "even at ordinary times".

This 避けられない is in the negative-potential form. Note that は modifies the object of 避ける here (e.g., このキノコは食べられない This mushroom is not edible).

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