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I'm working on a translation and am having trouble making sense of this phrase. I tried looking up the meaning each individual word and putting the phrase through Google Translate, but something doesn't click to me. The best way I could make sense of it is "Do you think I can contain my joy?" which seems like an odd thing for this character to say.

The context is as follows:

Nene: え、どうしたの類。いつもより気持ち悪い顔して
Emu: うん! とーっても嬉しそうだねえ!
Rui: フフフ……これが喜ばずにいられると思うかい

Side note: working on the translation on Google Docs and it keeps asking to correct "これ喜ばずにいられると思うかい?" But the original version says it's が。

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  • For the が, this should essentially address the issue. I think your understanding is correct but do not see why you think the interpretation is odd.
    – sundowner
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 9:45
  • @sundowner そもそも「(私は)これが喜びます」なんていう言い方はしないので、よく考えるとこの「これが」はかなり特殊な用法なんだと思いました
    – naruto
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 16:39
  • 2
    I believe the use of が here has something to do with いられる being a potential verb.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 19:11

2 Answers 2

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This これが is indeed tricky, and it somehow sounds almost the same as saying こんな状況で to me. This これが is like saying "in a situation like this", "see what's going on", "look", "come on" or something. This usually appears in a rhetorical question pattern, これが + ~て/ないで/ずに + いられるか/いられようか.

  • これが笑わないでいられようか。
    How can I not laugh at this (news/situation)?
  • これが飲まずにいられるか!
    How can I refrain from drinking (alcohol) in a (sad) situation like this?
    → I can't help but drink on a day like this!
  • これが落ち着いて(い)られるかよ!
    Hey, how can I stay calm now?
  • これが喜ばずにいられると思うかい?
    In a situation like this, do you think I can keep being not pleased?
    → Come on, how can I be not pleased?

As you can see in the second example, this type of これ is clearly not the subject nor the object of the following verb. But rather than trying to analyze further, I think it's best to memorize this これが is almost like a fixed guiding adverb that indicates いられるか is coming and strengthens the meaning of the rhetorical question.

これ喜ばずにいられると思うかい and これ喜ばずにいられると思うかい are also correct and make sense, but これが sounds more idiomatic and natural to me.

You may know this, but これが and それが also work like a conjunction meaning "however", "actually" or "despite your expectation":

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In my reading, これを pairs with 喜ぶ (if not 思う) whereas これが pairs with いられる.

[これを喜ばずに]いられる

これが[喜ばずに]いられる

Though the agent of the verb いる is a person and not これ, which I believe refers to the situation the speaker is in, the potential form いられる permits it to be marked with が as if it's the subject.

The speaker is asking the listener, rhetorically, if she thinks the current situation is such that they can be (いられる) without rejoicing (喜ばずに).

これが喜ばずにいられる(状況だ)と思うかい?
How could I/we be not happy in this situation?

They are basically saying 喜ばずにはいられない.

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  • 「これがいられる」は普通は変な表現だと思うのですがどう解釈すればいいのでしょう。この「が」が「本が読める」の「が」なのだとしたら「いる」は自動詞ですし、「この状況が存在し続けられる」の「が」なのだとしたら無生物主語に「いる」を使うのは変な気がします。
    – naruto
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 0:27

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