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This is part of a reading comprehension question in the JLPT 1 exam. Complete question.

It's actually an excerpt from 「(ほんとうの自分)のつくり方ーー自己物語の心理学」

自分の姿がおぼろげにしか見えないうちから、まずは語ることを始めなければならない

What does ないうちから mean? And what does the entire sentence mean?

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    Does this answer your question? Difference between うちに and うちから
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 15, 2023 at 16:52
  • The ない here is clearly part of 見えない, so the first question is really about うちから (= うち + から). Asking for a translation for the entire sentence is too broad. Jun 16, 2023 at 12:25
  • I'd translate it as: "I can only vaguely see the state I'm in, so for starters we have to start talking" or something like that. That なければならない really packs a lot of force behind that "start talking" which is kind of hard to translate to English. Jun 17, 2023 at 13:38

2 Answers 2

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うち in this case means "enclosure". It could be a group of things, a time period, etc.

This is the clause that modifies うち

自分の姿がおぼろげにしか見えない

A shape of yourself (kind of like your true self) is nothing but vaguely visible.

Adding うちから

自分の姿がおぼろげにしか見えないうちから
From the enclosure (of time) when your shape is nothing but vaguely visible

The whole sentence:

自分の姿がおぼろげにしか見えないうちから、まずは語ることを始めなければならない
From the enclosure (of time) when a shape of yourself is nothing but vaguely visible, firstly you must start talking (to yourself).

I think the nuance of うちから is something like "as soon as". We also have まず...

So, idiomatically:

As soon as you get a glimpse of your true self, you must, before anything else, start talking to yourself.

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「○○うちから(内から)」 means "starting from when ○○ is the case".

My guess is that the quoted setence is from literature, and it gives me a very surreal impression. The speaker seems to has a strong belief, something like sense of duty, and/or be determined. So I'm not sure how accurate I can explain, but the speaker seems to be suggesting that he/she must start speaking while s/he can only see themselves vaguely. Anyway a quite unusual situation!

The use of 「うちから」 in the quoted answer Difference between うちに and うちから is different from yours, but I gave a detailed explanation there about 「うちに」and 「うちから」.

BTW you asked about 「ないうちから」, but that ない is paired with the preceding 「しか」, i.e. 「しか...ない」 = there's only.

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