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A usage of "代わりに"

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A usage of "代わりに"

Postby Frobnitz » Fri 10.09.2009 11:21 pm

I have a question about a use of "...no kawari ni" from a manga. Forgive me for the long backstory.

A group of students and professors has come together to build a ship designed by a recently-deceased colleague, a Professor Ohta. The team leader was in love with Ohta before his death and therefore lavishes extraordinary attention on the project. One man on the team has a romantic interest in the team leader and is exasperated with her obsession with Ohta. (He is also jealous of how beloved Ohta was around campus.)

The conversation turns to where the team might visit once the ship is completed. One member is surprised that they might be using the ship for sightseeing instead of academic reasons, and the team leader responds:

Team leader: 「そうよ。何のために船があるの」
Jealous man: 「太田の代わりに・・・・ですか」
Team leader: 「太田が見損ねたものを見に行くの」

Due to the placement of the word balloons in the manga, I cannot determine if the second line is a reply to the first line, or if the "third" line is simply a continuation of the team leader's dialogue and the man's question comes last. That would make the dialogue:

Team leader: 「そうよ。何のために船があるの。太田が見損ねたものを見に行くの」
Jealous man: 「太田の代わりに・・・・ですか」

Does the "no kawari ni" here mean "in Ohta's place" ("we will be traveling the world in Ohta's place")? Or does is it mean "to provide an Ohta substitute", a cynical answer to "what did you think the ship was for", suggesting that the team is (irrationally) redirecting its love for Ohta to building the ship? (Is the second option even a valid translation of "kawari ni"?)

It seems that the order of the lines determines the meaning. I have a transcript of the manga's text (compiled by a fan, not the company) which uses the first order shown above, with the jealous man's comment in the middle. Looking at the matter, though, I can't decide which is correct.

Thank you for any help - and for your patience with the long post.
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby keatonatron » Sat 10.10.2009 2:25 am

It seems to me that the team leader wants to carry out Ohta's unfinished business, due to her love for him.

The Jealous Man obviously doesn't want her to do that; even though Ohta is now out of the picture, he is still affecting the team leader. The Jealous Man most likely wants her to forget Ohta as soon as possible!

Here, Jealous Man is confirming that they are going in Ohta's place, while also pointing out that it's only because the team leader loved Ohta ("We're going in his place" = "So you mean we're going [just] because he couldn't, right?")
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby Frobnitz » Sat 10.10.2009 7:58 pm

keatonatron wrote:It seems to me that the team leader wants to carry out Ohta's unfinished business, due to her love for him.

The Jealous Man obviously doesn't want her to do that; even though Ohta is now out of the picture, he is still affecting the team leader. The Jealous Man most likely wants her to forget Ohta as soon as possible!


Well, yes, that's obvious. Regarding your suggestion, though - I did think that the "in Ohta's place" translation was the obvious choice, until I read the script compilation. Is the other sentence order possible? (That a native speaker chose the other sentence order suggests so, though it is the less obvious of the two.) Is your suggestion based on personal preference, or is the alternate sentence order/scenario nonsensical in some linguistic way?
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby Hyperworm » Sat 10.10.2009 8:21 pm

If it was to be read as in the first order, as a cynical line, wouldn't the ending 「・・・ですか」 be a strange way to end it? ._. I'd expect something like「大田の代わりか?」.

Second order is more plausible IMO.

[post edited to remove potentially incorrect statement]
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby shin1ro » Sun 10.11.2009 6:30 am

Hi,
I think the second order sounds natural but not for the first order.

When I read the first order, I thought it could mean (with much complement):
"Do you (really) mean the existence of the ship is for the substitution of Ohta?"
But I think it's more natural to chose the second order to translate such as:
Instead of Ohta, we are going to see what Ohta couldn't see.
(The ship becomes meaningless if no one (even) see the ship.)

But actually, I don't quite understand if it could be translated as "in Ohta's place"...
~の代わりに is not ~のところに (unless it's a typo.......do I see the point?)

-shin1ro
英語がおかしければご指摘ください(日本語も...)。サンキュ〜 ;-)
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby Hyperworm » Sun 10.11.2009 7:58 am

shin1ro wrote:But actually, I don't quite understand if it could be translated as "in Ohta's place"...
~の代わりに is not ~のところに (unless it's a typo.......do I see the point?)
I think it's a good translation.
"in Ohta's place" is the same as "in place of Ohta", which means "instead of Ohta" ("as a substitute for Ohta").
In fact, "instead of Ohta" comes from "in stead of Ohta", "in Ohta's stead":

stead
1. the place of a person or thing as occupied by a successor or substitute: The nephew of the queen came in her stead.

It's as if Ohta was swapped out and the other person was put in the same place/position, and the other person moves around and acts how Ohta would have acted. This links the concepts of "place" and "substitute" in English. :)

Also, "place" doesn't have to refer to physical location; it can refer to other "positions" like the "place/position/ranking/role" of a person within a group, etc.
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby Frobnitz » Tue 10.13.2009 11:44 am

Thank you all for your input; I really appreciate it.

Hyperworm wrote:If it was to be read as in the first order, as a cynical line, wouldn't the ending 「・・・ですか」 be a strange way to end it? ._. I'd expect something like「大田の代わりか?」.


May I ask why? I don't mean to be facetious; the problem genuinely eludes me. (I would assume that if the first order were the intended one and the line were meant as a bitter, rather spiteful comment, it would be "In Ohta's place...isn't it/isn't that right?".)
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby keatonatron » Wed 10.14.2009 3:22 am

Frobnitz wrote:
keatonatron wrote: Is the other sentence order possible? (That a native speaker chose the other sentence order suggests so, though it is the less obvious of the two.) Is your suggestion based on personal preference, or is the alternate sentence order/scenario nonsensical in some linguistic way?


Both are possible, and have different connotations!

The "correct" choice depends on context... and perhaps we can never know unless we ask the author. I haven't read anything more than what you've provided, but to me the second one sounds more spiteful ("so we're going JUST because Oohta couldn't?"), and the first one sounds like he thinks they are going simply to go (and she explains that they are going to SEE what Oohta wasn't able to, not simply GOING because Oohta wanted to and couldn't).

Does that interpretation fit at all with the story? I think all stories are open to interpretation, so it's possible there is no single answer!!
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Re: A usage of "代わりに"

Postby shin1ro » Sat 10.24.2009 10:59 am

Thanks Hyperworn, for your clear explanation! :D

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