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ては(tewa)

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ては(tewa)

Postby hiwa » Tue 04.03.2007 10:47 pm

彼は秘密を知っています。
He knows the secret.
彼はそれを教えてくれません。
He doesn't tell it.

彼はそれを教えてはくれません。
---- what should be the equivalent, and natural, English? ----
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 04.03.2007 11:00 pm

は is often hard to translate into natural English. Can you give a more extended context -- i.e. why is the person saying はくれません here instead of just くれません?
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby hiwa » Wed 04.04.2007 12:13 am

Well, there should be no specific context but the ては version could be said amid a rather thick layer of mental circumstances in which he might have some reason for not telling the secret. The reason and even its existence is unknown to the speaker. He is obstinately keeping silence. For example, telling the secret might widen the wound of his heart.
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby Oracle » Wed 04.04.2007 2:27 am

From Hiwa's explanation, I think the purpose of ては here is to slightly emphasize the negativeness of the sentence/disappointment or frustration that the speaker feels, but I don't think there is a lot you can do in English other than translate it as "He won't tell me", or perhaps "He just won't tell me"
Last edited by Oracle on Wed 04.04.2007 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby hiwa » Wed 04.04.2007 4:15 am

Oracle wrote:
From Hiwa's explanation, I think the purpose of ては here is to slightly emphasize the negativeness of the sentence/disappointment or frustration that the speaker feels, but I don't think there is a lot you can do in English other than translate it as "He won't tell me", or perhaps "He just won't tell me"

Yes, it like emphasizes his negative will. His negativity is felt hard as a surface of a diamond or steel. You can't move it a bit.

Here's my trial:
It seems the last thing he would do is to tell it.

I doubt it could be a 'natural English', though.
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby hiwa » Wed 04.04.2007 5:56 am

core implication:
Particle は specifies the principal object of an interest. Therefore, the implication of the sentence
X は ~~
is
As for X, X~~

私は26歳の日本人の女の子です。
As for me, I'm 26 years old Japanese girl.

Then, the man who knows the secret
may give(くれる) A-thing,
may give(くれる) B-thing,
....
may give(くれる) almost anything.
But,
AS FOR telling the secret,
それ(that==telling the secret) は doesn't give(くれない).

X は ~~
X .... 教えて
~~ ..... くれない
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.04.2007 7:35 am

"The last thing he would do is tell us" sounds fine to me; that seems to capture the nuance of は pretty well. ("It seems" can go in front of it if you want to soften it a bit).
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RE: ては(tewa)

Postby Sunken » Wed 04.04.2007 12:58 pm

In very general terms, は for emphasis or contrast can often be translated by changing the word order, putting the emphasized part first. It is far from sure-fire, though. In this case, it would produce
"Tell it, he won't."
which is valid and has a contrastive feel to it:
"I've badgered him about his secret. Tell it, he won't - but he's started dropping hints at least."

If you try doing this all the time you'll end up with pretty awkward English translations, though. Re-phrasing is usually better. And for pure emphasis it won't work in this case (I think).
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