What is the あたり doing in this sentence?


Although I think I understand the sentence as a whole, what is the あたり doing in this sentence? I know it can mean vicinity/nearby​. But I can’t seem to gracefully translate it one way or another…

My understand -

The knight shouted “Who are you?” at a distance that was still a little far to have a conversation.

Thanks for any help!

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You dont have to specifically have “vicinity” in your translation or anything since you already get the point across. In your translation, you have it included when you said “at a distance”. 遠い距離 just means far away, so think of it this way: without というあたり it would be “at far away so and so shouted” rather than "at a place that was far away, so and so shouted.

In japanese, you wont see these distance adjectives used as a location (to my knowledge) and it needs another word to really solidify the location and have the distance adjective modifying that location. For example: そんなに遠い所からわざわざ来なくてもよかったのに。 rather than そんなに遠いからわざわざ来なくてもよかったのに。

EDIT: Its not part of the question, but please note that this can change when the adjective is made into an adverb. You can say things like 遠くから人影が近づいてくるのがみえた。

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Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation :)!

Another idea is that あたり is the “noun form” of 当たる, which can have this meaning:

(試す) try; (尋ねる) ask; (意見などを打診する) sound … out; (確かめる) check with ….
I myself will talk with him about that matter. (!myself は I を強調する) / I’ll meet him in person about the matter.
I can’t give an answer until I check it out with the person himself [I sound out the person himself about it]. (!himself は the person を強める)
「申し訳ございませんが, すっかり売り切れてしまいました」 「じゃあ, どこかほかを当たってみなくちゃならないわねえ」
“We’ve quite sold out, I’m afraid.” “Then I must try somewhere else, I suppose.”

So something like “he shouted with such an inquiry”.

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遠く in that example is actually a noun, I believe, although 遠く can also be 遠い in く form.

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Correct, its an adverbial noun. You can do the same with 近く, for example.

I think the way という is used in this sentence makes it hard for me to get on board with this idea. Although someone can ask a native and see since ive been wrong before.


Probably worth noting that Japanese is full of phrases like this that don’t all need to be translated over into English directly (and vice versa).

No need to say, “the knight shouted, from a spot which was at a distance still a bit too far away to hold a conversation,” when you could just say, “the knight shouted from a distance still a bit too far to hold a conversation.”

Edit – Also, not every そう in reference to dialogue needs to stay at the back of the sentence. I switched it to the front in the example translations above without even thinking about it. Do what’s more natural in the target language once you have the meaning, unless you feel like form is deliberately being played with in the original language. Otherwise you’ll end up with terribly winding sentences for what were everyday-ordinary descriptive statements in Japanese.

Edit edit – This is also just my personal preference as both a reader and in my own amateur translations (going off of @Vanilla’s comment below).


There are people who actually do try and stick as close as possible to the original sentence structure and literal meaning when translating, but I personally agree with you. So long as you’re painting the same mental image, I think you did a fine job.


I’d probably go a step beyond this and say that as long as you’re leaving roughly the same impression on the reader, you’re doing a fine job. That would include doing your best to keep standard wording in Japanese standard in English, showy or experimental wording in Japanese equally showy and experimental in English, etc. Translating every literal element can often flip the script on that.

But yeah–it’s all down to preference and purpose at a certain point. And there are times when even I’d privilege mirroring the structure somewhat, despite usually disliking that approach. I’ve seen people say before that for subtitle tracks, for example, there’s an illusion of being able to understand the dialogue as you listen to it, so it’s better to try to keep character names, obvious 1:1 terms, etc. in the same spots structurally, even if it leads to slightly less natural English. That makes complete sense to me.

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It’s the “vicinity” meaning. I double checked with a native.


Thank you!

Yeah, that what I normal end up doing :). But it was the time I had seen あたり like this!

Thanks for checking!

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