微妙に

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redsee

Member
English
Hi,

I had a question regarding this usage of 微妙に in this passage:

見た事のないスーパーのチラシが入っている。どうやら近所に新しいスーパーが出来たらしい。
「お? トビウオの刺身があるぞ。 しかも安い……」
地図を確認する。
微妙に行った事がない場所だが、ここからそれほど遠くない様に思われる。

I've always understood 微妙 to be a slangy way of expressing uncertainty (or roundabout negativity) about things, but is this still the case here? Is it saying that he's unsure if he's been to there or not, or is it possibly emphasizing the fact that he's never been there?

Any help would be much appreciated!
 
  • redsee

    Member
    English
    It is rather understating the fact that he’s never been there. The new supermarket is in his neighborhood so he may well have been to the site, but he actually hasn’t.
    I see. But isn't understating said fact no different from being uncertain that he's not visited there before? Sorry if I'm not understanding you clearly here.
     

    Contrafibularity

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Osaka
    “Understate” may not be the best choice here, but I couldn’t come up with a verb that captures the nuance better.

    It doesn’t mean he is uncertain if he’s been there or not. With or without 微妙に, the fact remains that he’s never been there. With 微妙に, though, it implies it wouldn’t be strange at all if he had visited there (because he lives close). In other words, the boundary between having been there and NOT having been there is subtler in the 微妙に version, and this is what I meant by “understating the fact”. This might not make much sense to you, but do you get what I mean?

    One wouldn’t say “フランスへは微妙に行ったことがない。” unless that person was an enthusiastic traveler and had visited most of the countries around France.
     

    redsee

    Member
    English
    “Understate” may not be the best choice here, but I couldn’t come up with a verb that captures the nuance better.

    It doesn’t mean he is uncertain if he’s been there or not. With or without 微妙に, the fact remains that he’s never been there. With 微妙に, though, it implies it wouldn’t be strange at all if he had visited there (because he lives close). In other words, the boundary between having been there and NOT having been there is subtler in the 微妙に version, and this is what I meant by “understating the fact”. This might not make much sense to you, but do you get what I mean?

    One wouldn’t say “フランスへは微妙に行ったことがない。” unless that person was an enthusiastic traveler and had visited most of the countries around France.
    Thank you for clarifying! What you said makes a whole lot of sense now.
     
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