Home Forums The Japanese Language Modifying a noun phrase

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  trunklayer 4 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #49829

    trunklayer
    Member

    I apologize if I’m using the grammar terms incorrectly. The question goes like this:
    Suppose I take a noun 「人」 and want to modify it. I add an adjective 「若い」、 so the result is 「若い人」 – “young person”. If I’m not mistaken, this is called a noun phrase.
    Now let’s say I want to modify this whole noun phrase. I add 「他の」 and get 「他の(若い人)」 – “another (young person)”. So far, everything looks fine.
    But suppose that instead of “young” I decided to use “reading a book” 「本を読んでいる」、so that the noun phrase would be 「本を読んでいる人」 – “A person reading a book”.
    Now, if I try to modify it with 「他の」 to create 「他の(本を読んでいる人)」 – “Another (person, who is reading a book)”, wouldn’t it become 「(他の本)を読んでいる人」 – “Person who is reading (another book)” instead? And if so – is there a way to rephrase it so as to avoid this change of meaning?
    My guess is that I should make 「他の人」 the initial noun phrase and then modify it with 「本を読んでいる」 to make it 「本を読んでいる(他の人)」, but would it be correct? And if it would, wouldn’t it still change the meaning to “(Another person), who is reading a book” which is not the same as “Another (person, who is reading a book)”?

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  trunklayer.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  trunklayer.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  trunklayer.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  trunklayer.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  trunklayer.
    #49835

    Joel
    Member

    You’ve bumped into one of the slightly annoying things about Japanese – complex noun-modifying phrases can be ambiguous. Either reading is perfectly valid, as is your alternate word order. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any way to word it that removes the ambiguity – in the end, you’re simply going to have to figure it out from the context. If you’re speaking to someone in person, they can also ask for clarification.

    #49836

    trunklayer
    Member

    Heh, I guess it can’t be helped then…
    Anyway, as always, thanks for the help!

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