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I would like to say beforehand that my question requires someone who knows Japanese language to answer it, because the sentence that I need an answer to is a Japanese one. Let me explain first what I’m asking for. I’m examining a relative clause in Japanese where the writer deletes some element form the sentence, not only the subject but some critical element and expected it to be understood by the reader, I wonder if Chinese writers will do the same.

The sentence in Japanese 頭がよくなる本 Atama ga yoku naru honn The transaltion in English is The book (by reading which) ( ) head gets better (i.e become smarter)

The only information that provided in the Japanese sentence is “heads gets better” and, “the book”. It does not mention anything related to “reading the book” but this can be understood through connecting the semantic meanings for both become smarter and the book. Do Chinese people do the same? Do they omit elements and let the reader find semantic and pragmatic connections?

This very important question to me, beacuse I’m working in my graduation thesis and I need to confirm if there is connection between Japanese and Chinese, since Japanese influenced by Chinese in many ways.

  • You should ask yourself about your own mother language, did you see any structure and exceptional case use ? – mootmoot May 8 '18 at 14:08
  • "The book that makes one smarter" 使人变聪明的书 Do you really need the "read" here? – fefe May 8 '18 at 14:31
  • 文言文 omit a lot, sometimes three or four characters in classical text would require a few sentences in modern Chinese to express. Not to mention many idioms do not follow grammar structure – Tang Ho May 8 '18 at 14:35
  • Mootmoot: my mother tongue won’t help me that much in my thesis, since my work concerns Japanese only. – Alyazi A May 8 '18 at 14:48
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    Fefe: That’s a good transaltion. However, the use of ‘makes’ will equal the usage of read. The issue in the Japanese text is that there is nothing that clearly shows that the meaning will be as you transalted unless you understand the relationship between the head noun and the clause itself. This example is one of many, and it’s clear since the relationship between them is not that hard to guess. – Alyazi A May 8 '18 at 14:52
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for classical chinese, it's a yes. one must read between the lines (actually, amongst characters), to grasp the meaning.

here's an example:

"三", "五", "二", "八" are the chinese the characters of 3, 5, 2, 8; but, putting them together, does not mean "3528", it depends on the context:

三五二八佳年少﹒百萬千金買歌笑

"三五" here means 15 years old (3 x 5) = 15, while "二八" means 16 years old (2 x 8) = 16

三五二八光如練﹒海上天涯人共見

"三五" here means full moon, the 15th day of lunar calendar, while "二八" means the moon of the 16th day of lunar calendar.

hope this answer helps :)

  • Thank you, it helps. But I wonder if modern Chinese will do something like that? It seems that the differences of Japanese and Chinese structures make it difficult to find an exact equivalent. – Alyazi A May 9 '18 at 3:40
  • the modern chinese, it's an absolutely no. – 水巷孑蠻 May 9 '18 at 4:07
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No idea about Japanese, but it was fun playing with the sentence, maybe this helps somehow.

This is a book, the reading of which makes you smarter.

这是一本读了能让你变聪明的书。
读这本书能让你变聪明。
读这书让你变聪明。

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The example given

頭がよくなる本

is not missing any more critical information than, say, your average English sentence. To demonstrate, first we can write all word stems with kanji:

頭が善く爲る本

Then we can rearrange it into a Chinese word order, stripping all okurigana, and adding the optional helper word 之:

爲善頭之本

Literally translated from Japanese kanji vocabulary, this is a book for improving the head/brain/intelligence/mind. It is implicit that the book is meant to be read, in any language.

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