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The following sentence is taken from the transcript of 進撃の巨人. https://docs.google.com/document/d/10cBh6DAcXgxOpwlmSFFb2oV06vgi4zRTIPhpYHUjsVA/edit

先生 に は 頭 が 上がら ねえ。

Literally this translates to something like: "The doctors head does not rise."

But I guess this is very wrong. So what does it mean?

I havn't found it anywhere, therefore I am trying to set up a LingQ lessen with the mp3 synchronised to the transscript: https://www.lingq.com/en/learn/ja/web/library/course/1255154

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  • It's not the doctor's head, it's the speaker's. The idea is you can't stop bowing to someone.
    – Angelos
    Mar 21, 2023 at 7:20

1 Answer 1

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Did you search for the phrase on Google or in a dictionary? This is an idiom and so can't be translated literally.

引け目を感じて対等な関係に立てない
To be unable to stand on equal terms with someone due to one's inferior position (especially due to a debt or obligation)

This should make sense, as the line is by a soldier who doubts Eren Yeager's grandfather's warning about the titans, even though the town owes a debt of gratitude to him. So the line from the script might be translated figuratively as:

前に、先生が流行病から、この街を救ってくれた。先生には頭が上がらねえ。
It's true that doctor did save this town from a great sickness before. I must admit that we are indebted to him.

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  • I think there is possibility the author intended this to be either "we owe him one" or "we can't thank him enough". Both are technically not the intended usage (誤用) according to the dictionary but don't we practically use it in such way?
    – dungarian
    Mar 21, 2023 at 3:00
  • @dungarian "I can't thank you enough" is usually an acceptable translation, but the phrase implies you owe them so much that you need to keep thanking or pay them back over a long period of time.
    – naruto
    Mar 21, 2023 at 3:45
  • Thank you for your comments. It helped a lot ;) Mar 21, 2023 at 5:59

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