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Japanese

Fun with phrases

In Japanese, you can string phrase upon phrase upon phrase, and then at the very end have everything you just said modify a noun. This can be used to fun effect but is difficult to translate to English.

In Japanese, you can string phrase upon phrase upon phrase, and then at the very end have everything you just said modify a noun. For example, here’s a line from Detective Conan:

watashi wa jishu wo susumetai no…goshujin wo kousatsu shita Yuuko-san, anata ni ne

[I] [(topic particle)] [surrender (n.)] [(object-identifying postposition)] [advise*] … [husband] [(object-identifying postposition)] [strangled] [Yuuko] [you] [to]

This has the dramatic effect of hiding the true subject of everything you’re saying until the very last moment. It’s often used in Detective Conan to make the unveiling of the murderer a surprise.

Unfortunately it’s difficult to do this in English. Here’s the most literal translation I could think of:

I’d advise surrender…husband-strangling Yuuko, to you.

Of course, no one talks like that. So maybe:

I’d advise surrender to the one who strangled her husband…you, Yuuko.

* Susumetai has an ending, –tai, that indicates the desire to do something. I could have translated it as “like to advise”, but for the sake of simplicity I did not.