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In the anime adaptation of the manga The Quintessential Quintuplets, as well as the corresponding manga, there are these 2 scenes:

  1. Scene 1: (S01E04) Miku Nakano (a member of identical and the eponymous quintuplets) says that 'Being quints is complicated.' This is translated from '複雑な五つ子心.' (I guess:' Fukuzatsuna itsutsuko kokoro'?) 'Complicated' here is '複雑' (Fukuzatsu).

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  • Context of scene: Miku is with fellow quints Itsuki and Ichika at a fireworks festival. Itsuki tells a story to Miku and Ichika about how Ichika got preferential treatment in shopping due to Ichika's attractiveness while Itsuki didn't even though Ichika and Itsuki look identical. Miku then makes the above remark.
  1. Scene 2: (S02E11) Raiha Uesugi says 'Things are complicated for quints.' This is translated from '五つ子のみなさんも大変なんだね.' (I guess: 'Itsutsuko no minna-san mo taihen nan da ne'?) 'Complicated' here is '複雑' (Fukuzatsu).

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  • Context of scene: Fuutarou Uesugi (in the middle) is shopping for clothes with Fuutarou's imouto Raiha Uesugi (on the left) and with 2 quints Yotsuba Nakano (on the right) and Itsuki Nakano (off-screen, getting measurements taken). Fuutarou thinks the quints have the same measurements since they're quints. Yotsuba wonders aloud if Itsuki's boobs are getting bigger than the other quints. (Itsuki is the imouto quint, if this makes a difference.) Then Raiha makes the above remark.

Question 1: How different are '複雑' (Fukuzatsu) and '大変' (taihen) ? I guess...it as different as 'complex/complicated' and 'difficult', which are exactly the resp translations.

  • Question 1.1: Do you agree with the translation of 大変 as complicated?

  • Motivation: In S01E04, Raiha was standing behind Miku when Miku said this. I'm conjecturing Raiha had remembered Itsuki's story in S01E04 and Miku's remark afterwards and then is repeating Miku's remark near-verbatim. The 1 flaw is the 複雑 vs 大変. I guess I might argue a 9yo child is more likely to say 大変 than 複雑. Certainly, I think 9yo children are more likely to say 'difficult' instead of 'complicated/complex'.

Question 2: Wiktionary, says the 'adnominal' of '複雑' is '複雑な', which is what Miku says. What exactly does 'adnominal' mean, and what is its relevance here? (Please don't judge me that I'm a monolinguist but don't know the meaning of 'adnominal'.)

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    I think learning Japanese by way of trying to map words to English words is not a great method. There are a million places where stuff doesn’t map directly. Just get a general idea based on the glosses and then focus on building your own understandings of the word, and eventually read monolingual definitions. Jul 13, 2022 at 14:52
  • @DariusJahandarie sure it applies to every language in general. in this case based on the context of the 2 scenes I don't really see a difference between the 2 words.
    – BCLC
    Jul 14, 2022 at 6:12

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The primary translation for 大変 in a context like this is, as jisho.org says, difficult, hard, challenging or tough. Something complicated is usually also challenging to deal with, but the opposite is not necessarily true. Something simple (like washing your hands before each meal) can often be tough, too. But I won't say "thing are complicated for quintuplets" is a mistranslation, either; it's perfectly understandable as a free translation.

"Adnominal" means "noun-modifying", just as "adverbial" means "verb-modifying". 複雑 is a na-adjective, so its noun-modifying form is naturally 複雑な. 五つ子心 (read いつつごごころ; こころ becomes ごころ due to rendaku) is a noun phrase meaning "mind(set) of quintuplets", so it has to be modified by the adnominal form of 複雑. The literal translation is "(Oh what a) complicated mindset of quintuplets...".

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  • Thanks naruto. 1 - Yeah easy vs hard and simple vs complicated. Steve Jobs: 'Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.' Or eg lifting a heavy rock is really hard but simple. But in this case is there any reason you can think of in the context of the scenes that 複雑 and 大変 are different? Based on the adnominal thing you said I guess 複雑 describes more their complicated mindset while 大変 describes the hard 'things' or problems they face? Well, actually the dub says: 'quints sure have a lot of unique problems don't they?'
    – BCLC
    Jul 14, 2022 at 6:20
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    This is not a matter of which is easier for a child. They are words with totally different meanings. Both words should be easy enough for a 9yo. As far as I know, adjectival, attributive and adnominal are used interchangeably on a site like this, but true linguistic experts may have different opinions. However, adjectival and adjective are different concepts; the former refers to any noun-modifying expression including a relative clause, and the latter is a type of a word.
    – naruto
    Jul 14, 2022 at 8:37
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    @BCLC A more faithful translation for your second example should be something like "So you quintuplets are all having a hard time just like us". But this is not a language exam where word-by-word correspondence is usually expected. This kind of free translation is perfectly normal in professional translations.
    – naruto
    Jul 14, 2022 at 10:29
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    @BCLC 五つ子心は大変 would be more like "Mindset of quintuplets is troubling/bothersome". 五つ子の皆さんも複雑なんだ sounds like this little girl finds it difficult to understand the situation around the quints. I don't know if it also fits the context. The translator happened to use the same word to translate them, but it's a coincidence and has no profound meaning. If you look at the Japanese sentences alone, those words are just two words with totally different meanings.
    – naruto
    Jul 15, 2022 at 7:26
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    @BCLC I don't know. There is no reason for me check all the previous context just to explain the meanings of two words that are as different as night and day. The meaning of も has nothing to do with what you are asking. I'm pretty sure that the translator "just translated this professionally" without any consideration for the convenience of learners like you. I'm pretty certain that you are overthinking.
    – naruto
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:53

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