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With a bit of googling I found that this form means "Although; But; subject may well do N, but not S; ~することはあっても~することはない", and I found this answer, which as far as I understand confirms that meaning (「~こそすれ」は「~はするけれど」の「~」の部分(動作)を強調しつつ堅めに言い換えた表現です).

I'm having trouble really understanding it, though; for example, in an anime I found this sentence:

ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だなんて思いません‌

which would translate as "I respect the members of the game club, but I would never think of them as ridiculous"; I get the general meaning, but that "but" (はするけれど, ~することはあっても~することはない) sounds really odd to me: "but" seems to create a contrast, like "I respect the members of the game club, but I would never join it" or "I don't respect the members of the game club, but I would never think of them as ridiculous", so in that sentence I'd rather read something like "I respect the members of the game club, (and) I would never think of them as ridiculous".

How should I read this structure?

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    Does the ても in 〜することはあっても〜することはない also sound odd to you? There seems to be a clear contrast between what you might do and what you never do.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 21:47
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    Maybe not relevant to this case, Japanese が can logically be just and. お花見に行きましたすごい人出でした.
    – sundowner
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 2:35
  • @aguijonazo not in general, sentences with that structure can exist; but it does sound odd to me in the specific example. It could depend from languages I already know, where "but" limits an affirmation ("I wanted to eat it all, BUT I only eat some"), or contradicts it ("I wanted to go, BUT I didn't go"), and in this example "I would never think they are ridiculous" doesn't contradict nor limit "I respect them", rather is something in agreement, so it sounds odd. So I guess there is some differences from languages I already know and Japanese, but I'm not sure how to read it.
    – Mauro
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 11:19
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    What about thinking XすることはあってもYすることはない as it's possible that X, but it's impossible that Y?
    – sundowner
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 13:46
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    The main purpose of this construction with すれ or あれ is to state you never do something. So the second part must be in the negative. ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だなんて思います makes no sense. To emphasize what is negated in the second part, you give something you do, or might do, in the first part. It’s like saying “Although A might be true, B is never true.” The original example is admittedly a bit confusing because what is supposedly specifically negated (=B) is already included in 思いません and is inseparable. I addressed this point in my answer.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 14:27

1 Answer 1

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At least when it is not followed by ど or ども, the verb in the first part of these constructions is normally either する or ある. What you do (する) or what exists (ある) is expressed by a noun or a nominalized verbal phrase. If the verb is する, it may also be part of [V ます-stem]-はする.

〜はすれ(ど)、〜
〜ことはあれ(ど)、〜

The second part often follows the same pattern, too. Additionally, it may be [V た-form]-り(は)しない.

〜はすれ(ど)、〜はしない
〜ことはあれ(ど)、〜ことはない

They may be mixed.

〜はすれ(ど)、〜ことはない
〜ことはあれ(ど)、〜はしない

The reason the adversative relationship is not clear in your example is that it uses the verb in a normal negative form. I’m not sure if this is considered grammatical. I didn’t think it was particularly odd when I first read it, but I’m not very sure now.

The contrast becomes clearer if you rephrase it to match either of the above patterns by pulling out what is to be negated before the verb (する or ある) in the second part because that's what the first part is contrasted against.

ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だなんて思いはしません
ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だなんて思ったりはしません
ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だと思ったりなんてしません
ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だなんて思うことはありません
ゲーム部の人たちを尊敬こそすれど滑稽だと思うことなんてありません

It’s a bit tricky because of なんて. Depending on the position, it replaces は.

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