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"If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Do you have a translation question?

"If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby sampaguita » Mon 05.18.2009 9:52 am

Could you please help me translate this?

"If you have the ability but you don't have the interest, what should you do?"

(Context: let's say that you're good at playing the piano but you don't want to play the piano)

Would the translation be?

能力があるけど興味がなかったら、どうすればいいですか。
or
能力があるけど興味がなければ、どうすればいいですか。

Are these wrong? Are there any other variants? I'm mainly concerned here with the repeating "ば".

Thank you!!!
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby keatonatron » Mon 05.18.2009 11:22 am

Grammatically speaking, both are fine. Repeating ば's is not a problem.

However, I think they could be modified to be less ambiguous. What I mean by that is, it's possible for the listener to interpret a break in the middle where there shouldn't be:

能力があるけど I have the ability, but...
興味がなければ、どうすればいいですか。 If I don't have the interest, what should I do?

One solution would be to change けど to のに, which (I feel) would force 能力があるのに興味がない to be interpreted as one set object. Unlike けど, with a sentence like this it doesn't make much sense to break the sentence up after のに, so the break must come after 興味がない.

You can also end the first phrases with a simple なら:

能力があるのに(けど)興味がないなら、どうすればいい?

By not changing the conjugation of the first sentence, it helps to show that it is a set sentence. (maybe more helpful in speech than in writing, though)

Of course everyone interprets things differently, but this is how I would make it harder to misinterpret.
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 05.18.2009 11:22 am

Good place to make use of the のに construction.

{Keats beat me to it, by a hair, but I'll let it stand anyway).

I think it might be well to clarify if the OP wants to ask "....what should you do?" or "....what would you do?" I suspect he meant the latter, and it does affect the translation.
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 05.18.2009 11:44 am

I think it also depends on whether this is a true hypothetical or not -- i.e. does the sentence mean "I have the ability but not the interest, so what should I do?" or "If it were the case that you had the ability but not the interest, what would you do?" Somehow the first interpretation seems more likely, but I don't know.
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby sampaguita » Mon 05.18.2009 8:33 pm

My original intention was to ask a hypothetical question with a hypothetical premise. The question is more philosophical than practical.

Hmm...come to think of it, even in English there is a slight difference. In Japanese, how would the philosophical (If it were that I had the ability....) and the practical (I have the ability but....)? Thank you.
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby keatonatron » Mon 05.18.2009 10:49 pm

sampaguita wrote:In Japanese, how would the philosophical and the practical?


Is there a verb in that sentence? :?

You're question has pretty much already been answered. For practical, just take your original sentence and move the comma (pause when speaking).

能力があるけど、興味がなかったらどうすればいいですか。

For the philosophical, do what I said (that's what I thought you were asking about in the first place).

能力があるのに興味がないなら、どうすればいいですか。
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby Mike Cash » Tue 05.19.2009 7:39 am

sampaguita wrote:My original intention was to ask a hypothetical question with a hypothetical premise.


Then the sentence should be phrased in the subjunctive mood:

"If you had the ability but didn't have the interest, what would you do?"
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby sampaguita » Tue 05.19.2009 10:06 am

keatonatron wrote:
sampaguita wrote:In Japanese, how would the philosophical and the practical?


Is there a verb in that sentence? :?



Sorry, that was so embarrassing. I forgot to put the verb. :)
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Re: "If __ but ___, what should you do?"

Postby sampaguita » Tue 05.19.2009 10:53 am

Mike Cash wrote:
Then the sentence should be phrased in the subjunctive mood:

"If you had the ability but didn't have the interest, what would you do?"


You're right! :D
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