Here’s a thing I had to look up while playing Danganronpa. This is one more of those phrases that zoom by the reader or listener before they know it. Its meaning is hard to figure out if you don’t know it beforehand.

In the first chapter of the game, the protagonist Makoto Naegi has a serious conversation with a distressed girl, Sayaka Maizono. It’s very serious and about various delicate subjects. … Yes, I have forgotten what this particular conversation was about, and I didn’t make notes like I promised myself I would. 😓

Anyway, during this conversation, Makoto is thinking to himself,

正直、聞きたいけど… 聞きたくないって言うか…

The first sentence, 「正直、聞きたいけど…」 seems pretty straightforward, “Frankly, I want to ask (her)…” So far, so good, he’s curious about that complex emotional issue she’s facing that I forgot all about.

The meaning of the next sentence, 「聞きたくないっ言うか」, is not immediately obvious to me. The first half, 「聞きたくない」, simply means, “I don’t want to ask”. But「って言うか」- what the heck? A question marker at the end of quoting something, that’s just… So, let’s just try to look this whole phrase up!

Turns out information about this can be found both at weblio and in a blog post of Tae Kim’s. (These are usually two of the first things I check for grammar question like this.) According to these sources, 「〜と言うか」or its equivalent 「〜って言うか」 mean, or perhaps I should say ~, or rather ~.

Applying this to the above sentence, my attempt at a translation would be,

Honestly, I want to ask her about it… Or rather, I don’t.

While this sounds a little clumsy, and might better be rephrased to sound better in English, I think the meaning is clear: Makoto is curious and wants to ask Sayaka about her horrifying (?) secret, but at the same time he’s afraid of what she might tell him.

Mystery solved! Or I got it all wrong! Anyway, thanks for reading, see you next head-scratcher!

Danganronpa and all its characters are trademarks of and copyrighted by Spike Chunsoft.

Categories: Japanese

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