私一人だけじゃないのが安心

Myuu

Member
English
Hi everyone!

I have a question about the following ungrammatical sentence I created:

(Context: My friends and I are having trouble with classes at school. I want to say that I'm glad it's not just me alone having trouble.)

こう言っては悪いかもしれないけれど、私一人だけじゃないのがちょっと安心させる。
Maybe it's bad of me to say this, but it makes me relieved that I'm not alone in this.

I don't understand why させる (or の) is wrong in this sentence. The second part was changed to the following:
私一人だけじゃないということがちょっと安心させる。
私一人だけじゃないのがちょっと安心
私一人だけじゃないのがちょっと安心させられる。

安心させる by itself means something like "to cause (someone) relief," right?
I was aiming to say something like, "Me not being alone in this predicament causes me relief/makes me relieved."

If I replace the subject 「私一人だけじゃないのが」 with "mother," I can get a sentence like:
母が安心させてくれた。
^ Is this sentence correct? If it is, why is this correct and not the original sentence? What's the difference between the subjects? "Mother" is a noun, but the "me not being alone" sentence is nominalized. They are both essentially behaving like nouns, aren't they?

Also, I am confused about why changing の to ということ makes させる okay.

To simplify this a bit, my questions are:
1. Why does changing の to ということ make させる okay? Why is it ungrammatical with の?
2. Why is させられる, the passive form, grammatical with の in the sentence? Would it still be grammatical if we used ということ instead?
 
  • cnet128

    Member
    British English
    WARNING: This response contains a frankly ridiculous amount of personification of the Japanese language. It was the only way I could think of to illustrate what I think is going on here.

    I think the problem is that the Japanese language really loves to assume that the subject of everything is 私 unless it's made exceptionally clear that it isn't. And by extension, it doesn't like using 私 as an object (let alone a hidden one), because surely you could just use the passive instead and then 私 would be the subject like it ought to be! I think this may be especially true of causative constructions like させる.

    In your original sentence, what you're trying to say is Xが(私を)安心させる. There's a hidden 私 object. Japanese finds this unnatural phrasing, so it tries to flip things around so that 私 is the subject, and read it as (私は)安心させる. But then the sentence makes no sense, so the Japanese language suffers a mental breakdown and calls it unngrammatical.

    This is the reason why the second replacement sentence works (and is probably the most natural option). Because if you use 安心だ, the 私 is a hidden subject instead of an object (私は安心だ), and this makes the Japanese language happy.

    It's also the reason why the third replacement sentence works. Because you can boil it down to (私は)安心させられる, which fits the context perfectly. It doesn't matter that the use of が to mark the reason for your relief then doesn't grammatically match the verb, because the Japanese language is willing to overlook that. It just mentally attaches it to the word 安心 instead, as though there was a hidden question: 「私は安心させられる…」 「え?何が安心なわけ?」 「私一人だけじゃないのが!」

    The first replacement sentence, with ということが, takes the opposite approach; it forces the Japanese language to acknowledge that you're very definitely making the this nominalised verb phrase the grammatical subject of the sentence. That way you can use させる as much as you like, because the Japanese language has already given up on finding a hidden 私は somewhere. Nominalising with のが is quite a weak grammatical construction; it doesn't put much emphasis on the nominalised phrase, so the Japanese language is still open to the idea that it might just be a lesser subject, and the main subject of the sentence could still be hiding elsewhere. But ということが draws attention to itself. It says "Look at me! I am the main subject of this sentence!" So the Japanese language says "okay, okay, I'd better find a verb to match you then," and gets so relieved when it sees させる at the end to tie the hanging grammatical thread into place that it's willing to accept that the hidden 私 is acting as an object.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a native Japanese speaker, so my interpretation here could be full of holes and/or completely wrong. But I think it's probably pretty close to the mark.
     
    Last edited:

    Myuu

    Member
    English
    Sorry for the late reply!
    Thank you so much for your explanation, cnet128! It makes great sense to me, so until someone comes along and says otherwise, I'm going to go with what you say. :)
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    What a wonderful explanation, cnet128! If you are not happy with personification, conjuring up savvy expressions is not so difficult. E.g., The default mode of diction in Japanese "assumes that the subject of everything is 私". Go thou and do likewise.

    Yes, describing everything as one's personal experience or the cause of experiences is the easiest mode of diction for the speaker and the most expected one for the listener. Grammatically, 安心だ can take the cause of secure feeling as the subject. Feeling being a personal phenomenon, the listener should find out who allowed the feeling for himself. Semantically, 安心だ has two important actors; the cause and the experiencer. Whether they are explicitly mentioned in the sentence or not, communication goes along on the assumption that both of them are understood. "Everything is my experience" mode is the economical choice of Japanese to deal with the experiencer.

    To illustrate the Japanese default mode of diction, the Japanese equivalent of the English "Where am I?" is ここはどこ (literally, "Where is here?"). The literal equivalent わたしはどこ sounds as if わたし and the speaker were two persons and the one had lost the other. わたしはだれ is a philosophical question but わたしはどこ is a dippy one. You cannot lose yourself no matter what. You are right here.

    Well, "here" is a vital word for the default mode of diction as it is "the place where the speaker is." It can be used without definition or referencing something external. If you want to locate "this place" in the world, just ask using proper interrogative pronoun; ここはどこ.

    While Japanese can use different modes of diction by which わたし or the speaker can be treated just like any other nouns, their use in conversation is very limited.
    私一人だけじゃないということがちょっと安心させる。
    This is fine in writing but uttering it in conversation makes one extremely affected. Japanese loathes to treat the speaker as the object, and that of an inanimate subject at that.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top