From the first episode of Death Note:


In the show, this sentence is spoken by a male news reporter, so I assume he would be extra careful to speak formally and without any slang.

Problem: I'm having trouble understanding the grammatical structure of 「35歳の男兎富士(とふじ)直樹(なおき)容疑者が」. I understand the components of the phrase:

  • 35: 35
  • 歳: years (counter)
  • 男: man
  • 兎富士直樹: Tofuji Naoki (name)
  • 容疑者: suspect

So clearly this means something like

35 year old male suspect, Tofuji Naoiki

However, what's throwing me off is that all of these words are (AFAIK) nouns, and they are being assembled together without any connectives to modify another noun. In particular, I assume each of (35歳の男) and (兎富士直樹) are both functioning as adjectival phrases which are each modifying 容疑者. So if that's the case, shouldn't they be connected to 容疑者 with の, or some some other sort of connective? Or is it sometimes customary to throw a bunch of nouns together without any sort of connectives in between them?


1 Answer 1

  • Here, 容疑者 is used as a name suffix similar to ◯◯先生, ◯◯社長, ◯◯さん, ◯◯様, etc. Many words representing a social status can work as name suffixes in Japanese.
  • The relationship between 35歳の男 and 兎富士直樹容疑者 is called apposition (同格 in Japanese). English has a similar construction, too (e.g., "My friend Peter", "Jack the Ripper"). You can see patterns for expressing apposition in this answer. If you listen to the news carefully, you can notice there is a pause between 35歳の男 and 兎富士直樹容疑者 whereas 兎富士直樹容疑者 is pronounced in one breath. This "comma-like" pause indicates the apposition. Using の twice and saying 35歳の男兎富士直樹容疑者 is not incorrect, but it's often considered unsophisticated to use の in a row like this.
  • Thank you for the detailed answer. Everything is super clear now!
    – George
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 5:57

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