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Unknown or unknowing?

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Unknown or unknowing?

Postby Allie4357 » Mon 04.26.2010 2:12 pm

In reading I came across the phrase 知らない人, and I wasn't completely sure if it meant "unknown person" or "unknowing person." In the context, either would work, but each would be talking about a different character, so I thought it must be specifically one or the other.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.
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Re: Unknown or unknowing?

Postby Hyperworm » Mon 04.26.2010 5:12 pm

If by "unknowing" you mean "(generally) ignorant", I don't think that's a meaning that 知らない can have. Also, I think you've killed off the subject (or object) here, which may be contributing to confusion.

知らない人 is either:
"A person who doesn't know (about) [it/them/him/etc]"
or
"A person (who) [I/he/she/they/we/etc] don't/doesn't know".

These are a bit more specific than "unknown"/"unknowing" person, and you might be brought closer to the answer by thinking about what the unstated subject/object might be.
It's still up to context so I can't answer more without more info. ^^
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Re: Unknown or unknowing?

Postby writebook » Thu 04.29.2010 6:31 am

知らない人, if used by itself with no explanation, usually means "a stranger." Like when a mother tells her child not to talk to strangers.

To mean somebody "who doesn't know (about something)" you could say it like ~について知らない人 or ~知らない人. Such as
「歴史知らない人は歴史を繰り返す」
"People who don't know history will repeat history."

Or, it could be clear from the context. For example:
「オバマは有名な人だ。知らない人はいない。」
"Obama is a famous person. People who don't know (him) are nonexistent."
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