the self-referent 自分


Senior Member
English / Chinese
With reference to this picture: fFR7k5.jpg

In (9) the referent of jibun is Hanako and the speaker is taking Hanako's viewpoint.
(9) 花子は太郎が自分を愛していると信じていた。

(10) is unnatural because the viewpoint is inconsistent.
(10) *妻は私が自分を今でも愛していると信じている。

Since (9) and (10) has similar grammatical structures, I could not figure out why is it that (9) is grammatically correct but (10) is not.

Could someone explain why is it that (10) is grammatically wrong but (9) is correct?
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  • xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    The examples sound like those you may see in a language dissertation, created to prove a point :)
    And the point is: the reference of "jibun" should go first to the speaker, among all possible candidates within the sentence. So the inconsistence in (10) arises because the hearer would expect that "jibun" refers to the speaker, but it's in fact meant to refer to the wife.


    Senior Member
    Usually 'jibun' is used to refer myself in standard Japanese and kanto district .
    Sometimes 'jibun' is used to mention you or yourself in some kansai district. So both (9) and (10) meanings are unclear.


    Senior Member
    Both (9) and (10) are confusing. We usually avoid using 自分 in a sentence where
    more than two persons are mentioned. Even in (9), it could be interpreted that 太郎
    loves himself. (10) is more confusing because it includes the first person 私. 私 is
    closely connected with 自分, so it is quite misunderstandable.

    →Hanako believed that Taro hated her. :tick:
    →Hanako believed that Taro hated himself. :tick:

    And worse still, in Kansai Area, 自分 is referred to "you".


    Senior Member
    (9) Third person(Hanako) & Third person(Taro)
    (10) Third person(Wife) & First person(I)

    We should analyze this. It's the key to solve the puzzle.
    It's 1 in the morning, so I'll pass. :)
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