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やつに人間らしさのかけらでも残っていれば死ぬこともあろうさ (Japanese Harry Potter TL)
Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. (Original book)
If even a trace of humanity remains in him, he might even die. (My TL attempt)

I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the Japanese sentence does not convey the original meaning at all, but that's a separate issue.

My main concern is that I'm struggling with the meaning/nuance of 死ぬこともあろう in this sentence. My literal breakdown is

死ぬこと an event where he dies
死ぬことも even an event where he dies
死ぬこともある there exists even an event where he dies
死ぬこともあろう there might exist even an event where he dies (I'm guessing the volitional form adds some conjecture like with だろう)

Hence my final translation of "he might even die".

Is this even close to the truth? How would it differ if the sentence were simply 死ぬだろう?

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  • Do you mean the original Dunno... is largely different from your If even..? To me, it looks like might even die expresses a subject view on the guy's dying, as Dunno.. does in the original.
    – sundowner
    Apr 3, 2023 at 23:48
  • You are not the only one. I was pretty sure the sentence didn't convey the meaning of the original (perhaps a little biased by the poor reputation of this particular translation work). Turned out there is a way to read it the way the translator probably intended. The key is not so much in こともあろう as in other parts of the sentence. It is confusing. It forces an unreasonable amount of effort upon the reader, I would say.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 4, 2023 at 3:42

2 Answers 2

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Your breakdown seems correct but your final translation doesn’t sound quite right. I think it’s because of “even.”

も puts what it marks in the same category as other things, which are often not stated explicitly. In this case, the event of him dying is included in the speaker’s speculation among other possibilities. “He might even die” sounds like him dying is a less likely scenario and even that less likely scenario is possible. The Japanese sentence doesn’t have this nuance. It implies the speaker wouldn’t be surprised if it had happened (supposing a trace of humanity remained in him).

死ぬだろう means the speaker is reasonably certain he is going to die.

In any case, you are correct about the sentence not conveying the meaning of the original, where the speaker seems to doubt he died. I’m not sure how they ended up with this translation after having translated the preceding lines with reasonable accuracy.

Some say he died.
やつが死んだと言う者も居る。

Codswallop, in my opinion.
そんなのは、たわごとにしか過ぎん。


The sentence might have been meant as a contrapositive statement suggesting the speaker didn't think he had even a trace of humanity left in him, but it's a bit hard to understand, especially for young readers. あるかもしれないが, just for example, would have made this meaning much clearer. Or even just replacing the final さ with が would have made a huge difference.

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  • I'm intrigued as to where you got your version. For the sentences you quote above my book has あやつが死んだという者もいる。俺に言わせりゃ、くそくらえだ。 I was wondering just how rudely くそくらえ would be perceived. Apr 4, 2023 at 6:32
  • @user3856370 - I searched for the English sentence (“Dunno …”) and opened the very first search result. I didn’t realize there were multiple versions. The translation of the "Dunno ..." part seems to be identical.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 4, 2023 at 7:00
  • @user3856370 - I'm pretty sure I didn't use the word irony right. I meant to say 反語. It's more like a rhetorical question except it is not a question, or a statement that is not true because the conditions that make it true are known to be not true. I wonder how I should have said it.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 4, 2023 at 9:06
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    Don't worry 'irony' is a word badly misunderstood by many native English speakers (including me). I'm no linguist, but I wonder if 'contrapositive' might be the word you're looking for. Anyway thinking about this really helped me to grasp what you were talking about and why you wanted to end the sentence with が so, thanks. Apr 4, 2023 at 20:26
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I think this も is a special type of も that adds the nuance of "naturally", "of course", or "no wonder. This 死ぬこともあろう can be translated as "naturally, he would die". It's described in the following questions:

あろう is the "volitional" form of ある, and you're right that it's used here as an inferential marker (∼死ぬだろう). You can also say 死にもしよう(さ) here.

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