Can't figure out how to think about this sentence from 窓から逃げた100歳老人

I’m trying to read 「窓から逃げた100歳老人」. It’s a bit above my level but I’m managing (slowly).
But then I came across this sentence and I can’t really figure out how to comprehend it:


It’s referring to that it’s unusual for 100 year olds to flee from their own birthday party.

I don’t undestand why 異常 is in there twice. And i don’t understand why いう is いえば here (or if it even is いう as in 言う)
I have the Swedish original so I know what it means, just don’t know why :slight_smile:
Also, the sentence does continue but I assume this bit should be able to stand on its own.

Any kind soul here, that could help explain this to me? :slight_smile:

いえば is the conditional conjugation of 言う

I think the way the sentence works is kinda like posing a question and then answering it.

100歳にしては - considering they’re 100 years old
異常といえば - you could say it’s strange…
異常 - it is strange

or to paraphrase slightly, “Considering they’re 100 years old, you could say it’s strange - and you’d be right!”

That’s my take anyway…



Maybe you could give us the rest of the context please? there are some constructions that use this ば that could give it a slightly different meaning!

ex: 考えれ考えるほどわからなくなってきた。
=The more I think the less I understand it.

Context is everything !


How about, going only from what you mention: “it’d be strange to say that it’s strange”


Doesn’t feel right with the ば conditional to me…it’s more of a if A is true then B construct. Basically I don’t think you can use the main clause to directly comment on the conditional clause like that.

imabi says:

ば shows that the previous stated condition’s establishment is the condition for the latter stated condition to occur . The subjects of both clauses should not show volition. So, although the subject may be the same in both clauses, the resultant outcome should be natural in such instance.

This particle is perfect for showing desired result, so it would sound unnatural if the latter clause had some negative/undesired result specifically stated. This, then, does not mean “negative words” used in making suggestions/commands are then ungrammatical because you are soliciting a desired outcome.

I think you can do what you’re saying with たら and なら but this is definitely pushing the bounds of my understanding quite a bit…


I think this fits very nicely and good explanation!
I knew that is was a conditional form but I was only thinking of it as ‘if’ and not ‘should’ but that makes sense. I was also stuck in a mindset that it was a form of this type of usage: 食べる人. So I read it as “a strangeness that if said to be called strange” :slight_smile: But I guess this is more like two statements and an implied です at the end? Or something like it


Yeah, I realize more and more how important context is and how tricky it is in Japanese in particular. The book starts with three sentences without a subject. Sometimes it feels like I have to keep so much in my head before any of it makes sense :slight_smile:

In this case, the context is essentially what I already said. The sentence right before is explaining that the main character is escaping his birthday party. So, that is the thing that is unusual for 100 year olds to do. And then after that, the sentence continues to explain that even getting to be 100 years old is unusual itself.
It’s maybe written a bit more “comically” in Swedish than in Japanese, at least from how I read it.

1 Like

I think that would be almost the opposite meaning. The original is essentially: “That was a strange thing for 100 year olds to do”. That is, escaping their birthday party.

Still feels weird as a sentence to me.

Yeah, I know right :slight_smile:

This thesaurus entry includes some XといえばX examples, and talks about how it’s used.

Basically it’s something you can use when you want to soften what you’re saying about whatever. It’s like saying… “I can’t say it’s not X, but I also don’t want to say it with a huge amount of emphasis
/ confidence” or “If you ask me if it’s X, sure, I’ll say it’s X”


hah, so the nuance is the opposite of what I thought it was :sweat_smile:


Thank you for the link! I could sort of read the applicable section but even that one is above my level for now.
Your explanation is really interesting though. I really find it fascinating, the choices translators make. In the original I read it like it’s emphasized how unusual this is. I wonder if it’s that the translator disagrees or if it’s just more 和風 to soften those types of statements?

1 Like

Well, I guess the act of using a grammar point that frames it as an internal struggle you’re having inherently also brings attention to it. No one is forcing you to say it at all. But it’s true that Japanese people just like to phrase things with some amount of indirectness.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.