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I’m struggling to understand how to parse the first part of the following sentence.

門口不像日本有隔出玄關範圍的高低差,但是通常會有打開門之後無法接看到裡面的屏風或隔間。

It is talking about houses in Taiwan.

I understood the first part as saying the entrance (門口), unlike in Japan (不像日本), has no step (高低差) that separates (隔出) the entryway area (玄關範圍).

However, if 不像日本 is to be interpreted as an adverbial phrase like that, it would leave, according to my understanding, the verb 有 and its object 隔出玄關範圍的高低差. However, this contradicts what is supposed to be stated because it means the entrance (門口) does have the step (高低差). Shouldn’t it be 沒有?

Another possibility I tried was to understand 像日本有 as meaning “like (the kind) they have in Japan” and qualifying 高低差, along with 隔出玄關範圍的. However, that would leave only 不 between the subject (門口) and that long noun phrase, and it doesn’t seem to make sense.

Could anyone explain how this clause should be parsed?

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Tl;dr: because of the inferential nature of the construction 不像⋯⋯有, the phrase that expresses the idea of unlikeness is essential to understanding.

  1. A syntactically loyal (but less idiomatic in English) translation is

    The entrance (in Taiwan) is unlike Japan's having a step for separating an area for the entryway.

    So it is better to consider 日本有隔出玄關範圍的高低差 as a whole, and that this as a whole is compared to the entrance in Taiwan via the verb ('to be like').

    Lifting 不像日本 out of its apparent similarity to 'unlike Japan' is problematic:

    • This implies you parsed the sentence wrongly.
    • You are also taking away the only negation in the sentence, which serves as a logical switch. We know 'when A is unlike B', the logical signs of A and B are different. In Chinese, when we put this switch next to the statement on Japan (+, for having the step), even without stating what the entrance in Taiwan is like, we can infer indirectly that it is (–, for not having the step). In English, however, we already stated explicitly Taiwan does not have the step (–) regardless of the switch. The switch is therefore not an essential feature of the sentence, i.e., even without the switch, the sentence achieves its eventual goal of telling us what the entrance in Taiwan is like. The switch in Chinese is however essential, removing it will be unreasonable.
  2. In English, it is perhaps better to say

    The entrance (in Taiwan), unlike Japan's, does not have a step for separating an area for the entryway.

    We can also say that in Chinese too (two negations in total, so to speak: one for stating the absence of the step, which is an absolute fact; and another for unlikeness, which is a relative fact):

    台灣的門口跟日本像,它有隔出玄關範圍的高低差。

    The entrance (in Taiwan) is unlike Japan's; it does not have a step for separating an area for the entryway.

    Or more idiomatically,

    跟日本像的是,台灣的門口有隔出玄關範圍的高低差。

    What is unlike Japan's is that the entrance in Taiwan does not have a step for separating an area for the entryway.

    The concept of unlikeness transcends language (one has the height difference, whereas the other does not; this is obviously independent of the language). The way of phrasing comparison, however, depends on the language.

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  • 1
    Thanks for your explanation. You may have solved my long-time doubt. It was difficult for me to understand how much 像 covers and how far the effect of 不 reaches. Now I see it as [ A 不 ( 像 ( B … ) ) ].
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 28 at 23:34
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門口不像日本有隔出玄關範圍的高低差

Some object is omitted

(這)[門口] [不像日本(的門口)(那樣)] [有] [隔出玄關範圍的][高低差]

(This)[door], [unlike Japan('s doors) (which)] [have] [that separate the entrance area ][height difference]

This door, unlike Japanese doors which have a height difference that separates the entrance area

It implies 這門口沒有高低差 (this door has no height difference)

Break down the sentence by topics and comments:

[這門口] [不像日本門口那樣有高低差]

[不像日本門口那樣有高低差] is the comment on the topic [這門口]

Modify the comment sentence 不像日本門口那樣有高低差:

不像日本門口那樣有高低差 --> 不像日本門口那樣有[隔出玄關範圍的]高低差

[隔出玄關範圍的] is an adjectival phrase that modifies the noun 高低差

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  • Thanks for your explanation. I knew A 不像 B 那麼 ... used in a comparative statement but couldn’t relate this to that.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 28 at 23:35
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The Genkan

For footwear purposes, the border between inside and outside is not the door itself, but the entrance area called genkan. The genkan is typically divided into a lower area where people take off and put their shoes and the elevated area that is usually covered by a different type of flooring and marks the beginning of the indoor living space. Don't step with your outdoor footware onto the elevated area. Likewise, when removing your shoes, avoid stepping onto the genkan's lower area in your socks. Lastly, it is considered good manner to turn your shoes to point towards the door after removing them.

门口不像日本有隔区玄关 范围的高低差,
The entrances are not like in Japan, where the entrance hall has two levels,
但是通常会有打开之后无法直接看到里面的屏风或隔间。
however, they usually have a screen or partitioned area so that, after opening the door, one cannot see the interior of the house directly.

not 隔出 but 隔区

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  • I know what genkan is. I’m Japanese!🤣 Thanks anyway for your reply.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 28 at 23:39

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