Second-guessing myself

I hate to start a brand new thread for this one question but I didn’t know where to put it. Maybe we should start a mega-thread of sorts? Anyway…

Trying out iKnow! today for the first time. I came across the following sentence :


Its accompanied translation is as follows :

“The plane arrived over an hour late.”

Now, I’m going to seem like I’m being nit-picky here, but it’s because I still suck at reading and want to make sure I’m grasping concepts correctly. I know context plays a huge role and that might be where my hangup with this particular translation lies. Or perhaps it’s just one of those occasions where something is being inferred. I’m not yet experienced enough to know, hence my question!

It bothers me that it’s translated as “arrived over an hour late” when I see nothing in the Japanese about arrival at all. Am I correct? Can one of those words actually refer to arrival and I just don’t know? Is the translator just inferring? Do you guys agree that a better, more direct, translation would be “The plane was delayed [for] over an hour.”?


I read it as simply “The plane was over an hour late.” I think maybe people talk more often about planes being late in terms of arrival rather than departure, but it might also depend on the context.

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I would say that my translation and your translation are the same. Worded slightly different, but same meaning. I feel their translation implies a different meaning and that’s what I wanted people to weigh in on. Thanks for your reply, it puts my newbie learning mind at ease.

Sure their translation isn’t literal, but I wouldn’t say it’s wrong


Good translation is almost never literal - a good translator will translate something to the target language so it sounds well in the target language.

Not the best learning material though, that’s for sure.

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I don’t think it’s wrong either, per say. Again, I was just making sure I understood the core concept of the sentence - that the plane was late by over an hour for whatever reason - and not that something in there actually did mean it specifically arrived over an hour late. … if that makes sense? Thanks Kumi~

Yep, this is also my point. high five

Well that’s a common issue with English and Japanese, as I noticed.

I read “Japanese the manga way”, and they have “literal translation” and “translation which makes some sense in English”.

And those literal translations are almost always heavily reliant on the context and could be understood very differently in a different situation.

So I guess the thing to do here is to be conscious about the difference between the languages and remember that Japanese is far more dependent on the context than English.

Or to rephrase - English is a rather wordy language and requires words for things where Japanese is implicit.

Although, “The plane was over an hour late” would work too, I think. Maybe the authors just suck.

Well, a plane can only be late taking off or landing, right? There aren’t really other scenarios where you talk about it being late. And due to things like congestion at the landing airport and whatnot, a plane can become an hour late even if it took off on time. But if it takes off an hour late, it’s unlikely to make that time up and land on time again.

So, I feel like, if it’s an hour late at any point, that’s going to equal it ending up being late on arrival more often than not.

But as you basically already alluded to, you have to just accept that a single Japanese sentence can be translated multiple ways depending on what the context is. And it’s fine if people want to imagine context however they want in a vocab sentence.


Well, yes and no, I’d say.

I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the fact that the verb is in the perfective (「遅れた」). This tense refers to actions that have already taken place, actions that have finished (which, by the way, may or may not be in the past: think of the future perfect in English, as in “the plane will have arrived”).

So the sentence as it stands is more or less “the plan was an hour late”. But like @Leebo said, if the plane was late, then it probably means that it has arrived. Even if it doesn’t say so explicitly.

It would have been different if the sentence had been in continuous, as in 「飛行機は1時間以上遅れている」, in which case the speaker is explicitly telling us that the action is not completed, which in this case likely means the plane has not landed. I’d say translating that sentence as “the plane landed an hour late” would be plain wrong. But with the perfective, it is likely a reasonable assumption to make.


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