息を詰まらせる

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
ふと、士道の視線に気づいたのか、少女が目を書面から外し、こちらに向けてくる。
「‥…っ」
士道は息を詰まらせると、気まずそうに目を背けた。

Hi. Could you please explain why causative form of 詰まる is used here? The context suggests that shidou was choked, no that he choked himself of his own volition, which seems to be suggested by the causative form. Is 息を詰まらせる the same as 息を詰める or 息が詰まる?

Thank you.
 
  • SoLaTiDoberman

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    息を詰まらせる: He is stopped breathing. The tension makes him to stop breathing. He is surprised.
    息を詰める:He holds his breath, intentionally, in order to keep silent.
    息が詰まる:He feels very stressful/uncomfortable. He feels hard to breath, figuratively.

    息を詰められる :cross: weird and makes no sense. (or :tick: it may mean 息を詰めることができる. He can hold his breath.)
    息が詰められる:cross: weird and makes no sense. (His breathing air can be packed in a box. Or his breathing is packed in a box. )
    息を詰まられる :cross: weird and makes no sense.
    息が詰まられる:cross: weird and makes no sense.
     
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    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you, sola.
    You think 息を詰まらせる means “He is stopped breathing” and 息が詰まる means “He feels hard to breathe”. But according to my search result in various dictionaries, the two expressions both have the same literal meaning “be choked”, as in the following links. JapanDict Japanese dictionary - Definition of 息が詰まる
    choke | translation of choke in Longman English-Japanese Dictionary | LEJ
    Could you tell me why you don’t think they mean the same literally?

    And why can causative form have a passive sense (“息を詰まらせる: He is stopped breathing.)? Is this phenomenon unique to some specific words such as 詰まる? As far as I know, the causative form is used to express the agent makes or lets someone else do something. If there’s any passive meaning, it’s the “someone” that is made or let to do something, not the subject of the sentence. But in the op sentence, it’s Shidou who is stopped breathing. This phenomenon is strange to me.

    And why can causative form indicate surprise? Do you infer “He is surprised” from the context? Or the causative form in itself can imply surprise?
     

    SoLaTiDoberman

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I'm not sure what "be choked" actually means in English. So I'll have to explain in the following lengthy sentences:

    祖父は、もちで喉(のど)を詰まらせて死んだ。means that my grandfather was choked to death by a rice cake. His airway was obstructed by the material which was the rice cake.

    祖父は、息(いき)を詰まらせて死んだ。usually doesn't happen, because the airway obstruction is not done by a material such as meat, a rice cake, or smoke, but by his muscle movement in the throat. These muscles are voluntary muscles. So if he wants to restart breathing, it's possible. So he cannot commit suicide intentionally by stopping breathing. He can only stop breathing for a certain period of time, for a couple of minutes at the longest. So this sentence is usually doesn't make sense.
    But if this sentence really exists, I'll have to interpret that 息 is (mistakenly or confusingly) used for 喉, in order to make sense.

    祖父は、モナリザを目の当たりにして、息(いき)を詰まらせた。means that my grandfather stopped breathing for about a few seconds as a reflex because of his sudden mental activity or emotion such as, surprise, sensation, or admiration. Or he forgot breathing for a moment because of his sudden sensational mental activity or emotion. This is what I tried to write "He is surprised" in #2.
    And this example sentence has the same situation as your originally quoted sentence, I think.

    祖父は、同窓会に出席したが、旧友たちの出世話ばかりを聞かされて、息(いき)が詰まった。
    In this context, he didn't actually stop breathing at all. This is a figurative expression. He didn't like it. He felt uncomfortable. He felt as though he had difficulty in breathing. Technically speaking, he felt no difficulty in breathing physically, because he didn't suffer from asthma or allergy for food at that time. It was his mental reaction. He didn't like that place and wanted to leave if possible, as though he was rocked in a broken space-craft with the lack of oxygen and it was hard for him to breath. The space-ship was an uncomfortable, unpleasant and stressful place or situation. He wanted to escape from Apollo 13 if possible. It's a figure of speech, you know. He had a bad emotion about the reunion.

    祖父は、名画モナリザを見て、息が詰まった。
    I'm not sure what this sentence is talking about, but it seems that my grandfather has a negative impression or emotion about the famed painting.
    If he was a museum curator who had the responsibility to keep it from theft or fire, he might have felt so.

    This is my understanding of the difference of the two expressions, but it may depends on the context.
    And this explanation is something for a very-advanced Japanese learner, not for beginners.
    I advise you just to remember these expressions as set phrases. I cannot explain the difference grammatically. It is just so.

    If you do not understand, feel free to ask me again or ask other members. :)
     
    Last edited:

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you very much for your detailed explanation, sola.
    And this explanation is something for a very-advanced Japanese learner, not for beginners.
    I advise you just to remember these expressions as set phrases. I cannot explain the difference grammatically. It is just so.
    Good advice!
     
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