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From Liar Game chapter 29, Akiyama explains to Nao how she should not "believe" but doubt people (人は疑うべきだ) to understand them better.

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I am uncertain about the meaning of ほど in

人は本当に辛い事ほど言葉にしては言えないものだ

I can interpret this sentence in two ways

  1. If you try to put it in words, you can't describe people, like the really 辛い thing.

  2. The more 辛い the thing is, the harder when they try to express it into words, they can't say it.

Judging from the context, I think the first one is more likely. Am I wrong?

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1 Answer 1

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The second interpretation is correct. The first one is pretty much impossible with the quoted passage.

One key part is "describe people". 人を言う never means that, at least in modern Japanese. You would have to say 人のことを表現する, 人について言う, or something like that.

Another key part is the main predicate 言えない, which indicates that you are talking about something binary - it's either 言える or 言えない. This is incompatible with the usage of ほど in the first option, which describes the degree of something (continuous, not binary). If you want to use ほど to say how large the difficulty of something is, you would probably want to use 言いにくい instead.

If I try to slightly rearrange the Japanese sentence to make it closer to the first interpretation, the best I can do is something like this:

人については、本当に辛い事ほどに、言葉にしては言いにくいものだ

(This is still awkward, but I think further rearrangement would make it look like an entirely different sentence.)

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