Learning the ins and outs of even-ifs using ‘ni shiro’

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Warugi-ga nakatta-ni shiro, higaisha-o kizutsuketa. (Even if they really didn’t mean any harm, they did hurt the victim.)

Situation 1: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are watching a TV program about the problem of bullying at a junior high school.

妻:  いじめる側の生徒達は、いつも「遊びのつもりだった」と言うのね。

夫:  うん。悪気がなかったにしろ、被害者をひどく傷つけたという自覚を持ってほしいな。

Tsuma: Ijimeru gawa-no seito-tachi-wa, itsumo “Asobi-no tsumori-datta”-to iu-no-ne.

Otto: Un. Warugi-ga nakatta-ni shiro, higaisha-o hidoku kizutsuketa-to iu jikaku-o motte-hoshii-na.

Wife: The students behind the bullying always say, “We thought it was just harmless fun,” don’t they?

Husband: Yeah. Even if they really didn’t mean any harm, they have to be made aware that they really hurt the victim.

Today we will introduce the meaning and uses of ~にしろ (even if), which is a more formal version of ~ にしても. The former is used in writing or in conversations with a more serious or stiff tone. In the pattern Xにしろ、Y, the X is a noun, verb or adjective phrase/clause in plain form. X is what is assumed or decided and Y is what is contrary to X. In the husband’s sentence, he at first assumes that the bullies did not have intention to harm the victim, but his view is that they did in fact harm him/her. Other examples: 失敗 (しっぱい)するにしろ、やるだけのことはやるつもりです (I may fail despite everything, but I will do whatever I can); わざとじゃなかったにしろ、罪(つみ)は罪だ (Even if it was unintentional, a sin is a sin).

Situation 2: Ms. Yamani makes a speech at an office meeting.

ヤマニ:  「グッドライフ社」にしろ「元気カンパニー」にしろ、BK社の類似商品の売り上げを追い抜こうと必死です。わが社も、諦めてはいけません。

Yamani: Guddoraifu-sha-ni shiro Genki-kanpanii-ni shiro, BK-sha-no ruiji-shōhin-no uriage-o oinukō-to hisshi-desu. Wagasha-mo, akiramete-wa ikemasen.

Yamani: Both Good Life Co. and Genki Co., and others, too, are all trying desperately to outsell BK Co. with their equivalent products. We should never give up, either.

The key pattern sometimes includes two Xs (A and B), and this expresses that Y happens in the case of A, B and even in more or all of this kind of case. One more example: 夫(おっと)にしろ私(わたし)にしろ、あの人(ひと)のことは、親戚(しんせき)だなんて思(おも)っていません (Neither my husband nor I regard him as our relative).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Okubo and his daughter, Takako, are talking at home.

たか子:  私(わたし)、私立(しりつ)中学(ちゅうがく)を受験(じゅけん)したいの。

父:    たか子(こ)は、友達(ともだち)と一緒(いっしょ)に、近 (ちか)くの区立(くりつ)に行(い)きたいって言(い)っていたじゃないか。

たか子:  うん、でも、私、将来(しょうらい)ピアニストになり たいから、音楽(おんがく)大学(だいがく)の付属(ふぞく)中学に入(はい)ったほうが有利(ゆうり)でしょ?

父:    まあ、それはそうかもしれないが…。たか子は、そんなにピアノが好(す)きなのか。

たか子:  うん。でもね、美術(びじゅつ)も同(おな)じぐらい好きなの。だから、美術大学の付属もいいなあ…って、思うこともある。

父:    ピアニストにしろ、画家(がか)にしろ、芸術(げいじゅつ)を職業(しょくぎょう)にするのは大変(たいへん)なことだよ。ただ、どちらにしろ、一般的(いっぱんてき)な教養(きょうよう)は必要(ひつよう)なんだから、今(いま)から決(き)めてしまわなくてもいいんじゃないかなあ。芸術を専門(せんもん)にするのは、高校(こうこう)からでも 大学からでも遅(おそ)くはないと思うよ。

たか子:  うん、わかった。中学に入ってから、何(なに)が本当 (ほんとう)に好きか、考(かんが)えてみる。

Takako: I want to take an exam to enter a private junior high.

Father: Takako, you said that you wanted to go to the local public junior high school with your friends, didn’t you?

Takako: Yeah, but I now want to become a pianist in the future, being a student of a junior high attached to a music college would be an advantage, right?

Father: Well, that may be so. … But do you really like piano that much, Takako?

Takako: Yes. Then again, I like art about as much as music, so sometimes I think that I’d like to be a student of a junior high attached to an art college.

Father: A profession in the arts is quite tough, whether it’s becoming a pianist or a fine artist. Whether an artist or not, you need a general education. So, you don’t have to decide now. I don’t think it’s too late to start specializing in an art at high school or even college.

Takako: OK, I see. After I start junior high, I’ll try to work out what I really like.