Hello everyone! Today we’re going to take a look at another scene from 逆転裁判3(Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations).

㊟ Disclaimer: When I started taking screenshots for this blog, I forgot to take notes about the context they appeared in. That’s why I can’t give much backstory for today’s post. Will be more careful in the future, tho. Don’t even trip, dog. Fistbump!

We’re at the crime scene of a murder. Everyone’s favorite bumbling homicide detective Dick Gumshoe (糸鋸圭介, いとのこ けいすけ, or simply イトノコ刑事 in the Japanese original) fills in the attorney about what he heard about the case from one of the witnesses. Gumshoe tells the attorney this:

証人たちの話を聞けば聞くほど、不安になってきてしまって•••

(しょうにんたちの はなしを きけばきくほど、ふあんに なってきてしまって•••)

Let’s have a look at the vocabulary first.

Kanji Kana English
証人 しょうにん witness
はなし story; speech
聞く きく to hear; to listen
ほど degree; extent
不安 ふあん anxiety; uneasiness

Now for the grammar. The part I couldn’t make sense of was 聞けば聞くほど. Looking at the verbs, it probably has something to do with listening. So my guess was that the whole sentence might mean something along the lines of, “[Something to do with listening] to the witness’s story, I became anxious.”

What’s interesting here is that the same verb – 聞く – is repeated twice here. The first time it looks like it’s in the form of a ば conditional, the second time in dictionary form, followed by ほど. ほど means degree; extent, so if I tried to translate 聞けば聞くほど literally, I’d come up with something like, “If I listened to the extent I listen”, which is probably pretty far from the actual meaning of the phrase.

Let’s try some actual research! Since I’d previously made an attempt to see a pattern in the phrase, I now tried being clever and used placeholders in my search. I assumed that 〜ば〜ほど was some sort of grammatical construction, so I searched for exactly that on ejje.weblio.jp. That got me nothing.

That having failed, I tried putting in the full phrase into the same search engine, and that got me some sentences which made use of it.

聞けば聞くほどますます面白くなる。

The more I hear, the more interesting it becomes.

How very interesting indeed. The dictionary seems to be reading my thoughts…

So, unless this is a set phrase, 〜ば〜ほど is a construction that allows us to express the more ~, the more~. Searching for that led me to the more general form:

…すればするほど…だ

the more…, the more…

For example, 彼は持てば持つほど欲しがる。(かれは もてばもつほど ほしがる), “The more he has, the more he wants.”

Looking back at my first attempt to understand this construction through a literal translation, I can now say, boy was I wrong. I probably even parsed the phrase wrong at that first attempt. Oh well. Live and learn.

Back to our original sentence, 証人たちの話を聞けば聞くほど、不安になってきてしまって••• Now that I know that すればするほど means the more… the more…, my attempt at a translation of the whole sentence is now: “The more I listen to the witness’s story, the more uneasy I became.”

Do you agree? Would you consider using that phrase in your conversations? Would you consider switching to Comcast? Let’s discussing!

逆転裁判, Phoenix Wright, and Ace Attorney are trademarks of Capcom Co., Ltd.


1 Comment

ケイト · October 17, 2015 at 4:46 pm

ワルジュ先輩、こんにちは。
あなたのブログを書くのが好きですよ。も一度、文法のレッスンがすごく面白かったですよ。まだ新しいレッスンを読むつもりです。頑張ってくださいね。ありがとうございました。

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