Sentence Meaning?


#1

Lately Ive been using Kanshudo and I recently came across this example

Now the Japanese sentence is:

勝てば官軍。

But the English sentence (translation?) is:

All is fair in love and war.

Now I am all for sense for sense translation, but I am confused on a couple fronts. First, the Japanese sentence itself. Maybe its a bad sentence, but when I try to mentally translate it (or even googlely translate it) it doesnt seem to make sense. Especially so in the context of the English sentence.

So my question is, what is your take on it?


#2

It’s an idiom, or an abbreviation of one, so the translator chose an English idiom with a similar meaning.

http://jisho.org/word/勝てば官軍負ければ賊軍


#3

Aha, perfect. Thank you :relaxed:


#4

I feel like “History is written by the victors” more accurately captures the implication of the phrase. What do you think Leebo?


#5

Your answer is definitely more correct according to what is written here: http://kotowaza-allguide.com/ka/katebakangun.html

Definitely, “Alls fair in love and war” is not a good translation.


#6

Yeah, I was a bit confused there. Jisho disagrees too


#7

They tread similar territory. If winning is all that matters, then all is fair, there are no rules. I don’t really see how it’s that far off.

I don’t disagree that it’s not the best translation though.


#8

The two can be related, but the underlying idea is different. The idea of specific circumstances being cause for the excusability of more drastic measures vs. the circumstances of some situation being forced to be viewed through the lens of an involved party. In the second case, its not so much about excusability as it is altering the narrative and circumstances to make it appear as if such actions never took place.

Unfortunately the idiom itself may have a translation that is somewhere in the middle, which may cause it to be translated more like “all is fair in love and war” in select cases. I imagine it can take on a “the ends justify the means” by implying that so long as you come out on top, the opponent will always be in the wrong, so what you do to achieve that victory is irrelevant.


#9

Alternatively, theres also the idea of “Might makes right” that is present as well.