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安くなる

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安くなる

Postby Michael_SD » Tue 08.31.2010 2:16 pm

Hello again.

The following is from a reading exercise in my textbook:

ハーンが東大で教えていた時に、帰化して日本人になった。そのころの日本は、まだ生活水準が低く、サラリーもよくなかったのだが、日本の大学に勤めていた外国人は、みな日本人よりずっと高い給料をもらっており、ハーンも同じだった。ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に安くなってしまった。
( [ ハーン ] = Lafcadio Hearn)

My only problem is that I don't understand [ 安くなる ]. Or at a minimum, in the way it is used in the last sentence. I understand everything else.

A literal reading of the last sentence in English is something close to
'However, when Hearn became a Japanese citizen, his salary suddenly became cheap'.
Of course, in English 'became cheap' sticks out like a sore thumb in that sentence, considering the context.

Considering the strangeness of the *literal* reading, the natural English reading I give to it is, whether right or wrong,
'However, when Hearn became a Japanese citizen, his salary suddenly shrank' or 'However, when Hearn became a Japanese citizen, his salary suddenly decreased' or 'However, when Hearn became a Japanese citizen, his salary suddenly got smaller', etc.

My confusion stems partly from the fact that every reference I look at, both in my books and in online sources that I am able to understand, gives the sense 'inexpensive, cheap' for 安い. Nor can I find any explicit reference/definition (if it even exists) for the phrase [安くなる]. Furthermore, I think that [安くなる] in the sentence in question could otherwise be expressed with [落ちる], [下がる], [減る],etc.

So here are possibilities I see so far:
1 My reading of the sentence is incorrect/faulty.
2 安くなる is somewhat(?) idiomatic.
3 The auxiliary verb しまう has a sort of 'synergistic' influence on the phrase (which I doubt) -- which I don't understand. (I have a pretty good grasp of しまう, that it is often not expressly translated into English, and so forth.)
Michael_SD
 
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Re: 安くなる

Postby NileCat » Tue 08.31.2010 2:59 pm

[金額] amount of money

(高い)High <------------------------------> low(安い)
                  --->安くなる
                  --->下がる
          <---高くなる
          <---上がる

安くなる
become less <expensive>
come [go] down in price
get [become] <cheap>


[給料] salary = amount of money paid

安くなる
Yes. You are totally correct.
decrease, shrink, get smaller
The amount of money comes closer to [lower level].


In this case, しまう means something like "end up" or "turn out". (has a kind of negative nuance)

If I re-write the sentence, it can be...
ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に減ってしまった。
ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に下がってしまった。
ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に落ちてしまった。
...Yes, those expressions can convey the same meaning.

I'm not sure about English nuance though, the difference would be:
安くなる ・・・We usually use 高い and 安い when we refer to 給料.
減る ・・・the "amount" decreases
下がる ・・・goes down
落ちる ・・・drops
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Re: 安くなる

Postby Michael_SD » Wed 09.01.2010 2:11 pm

NileCat wrote:In this case, しまう means something like "end up" or "turn out". (has a kind of negative nuance)

I have a pretty good grasp of the use of しまう in which it implies regret, and I should have seen this clearly.

If I re-write the sentence, it can be...
ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に減ってしまった。
ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に下がってしまった。
ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に落ちてしまった。
...Yes, those expressions can convey the same meaning.
減る ・・・the "amount" decreases
下がる ・・・goes down
落ちる ・・・drops
Those sentences resonate with me -- as an English speaker. But as you point out here:
安くなる ・・・We usually use 高い and 安い when we refer to 給料.
So, keeping in mind your [高い and 安い when we refer to 給料] information, to a Japanese speaker, ところが、彼の給料は、日本人になると急に安くなってしまった looks quite natural.

I should probably have been able to see that originally, but ultimately, it boils down to the fact that I didn't put enough faith in what the author originally wrote -- I mistrusted his/her writing, which I should not have done.
From now on, I'll try to accept what's written at face value, and be more flexible in the English translation I give to such phrases in the future.

Thanks a lot for the answers. I appreciate your help in this question, and I learned stuff.
Michael_SD
 
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Joined: Thu 01.21.2010 3:06 pm
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