Managing great (and not so great) expectations with ‘dake atte’ and ‘dake ni’

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tanahashi

Special To The Japan Times

Kurō-shite-iru-dake-atte, hito-no kimochi-ga wakaru. (He has experienced a lot of hardship, so he understands other people’s feelings.)

Situation 1: Mrs. Mori talks with her daughter, Ayako, about Mr. Tian, her former tenant, who just paid her a visit.

森:  ティエンさんはいろいろ苦労しているだけあって、 とても人の気持ちがわかる人なの。

Mori: Tien-san-wa, iroiro kur̄o-shite-iru-dake-atte, totemo hito-no kimochi-ga wakaru hito-nano.

Mori: He has experienced a lot of hardship, so he really understands other people’s feelings.

Today, we will introduce XだけあってY and its related expressions. Here, X is a noun, adjective or verb phrase in noun-modifying form, and Y is a phrase or clause that is naturally expected, deduced or evaluated from X, as in Mrs. Mori’s sentence in Situation 1. Note that Y should be a positive evaluation. だけあって can be replaced by だけに to express a similar meaning.

Situation 2: Section chief Mr. Okubo is talking to department head Ms. Yamani about their new product.

大久保: 部長、新製品の売れ行きが、あまりよくないと 聞きましたが…。

ヤマニ: ええ…。経営陣も、期待が大きかっただけに、失望も大きいようです。でも、このままでは終わらせませんよ。

Ōkubo: Buchō, shin-seihin-no ureyuki-ga, amari yokunai-to kikimashita-ga …

Yamani: Ee … . Keieijin-mo, kitai-ga ōkikatta-dake-ni, shitsubō-mo ōkii-yō-desu. Demo, kono-mama-dewa owarasemasen-yo.

Okubo: Boss, I heard sales of our new product are not good.

Yamani: Yeah … The management team also had high expectations, so they seem to be really disappointed. But I won’t let this be the end of it.

In XだけにY, the factor Y can be what betrays X, which has the effect of emphasized Y. With this usage, だけあって cannot be used. This structure tends to be used to express the speaker’s sympathy toward someone. For example, Y could be a negative evaluation or something bad such as ざんねん (It’s unfortunate/a shame), as in Ms. Yamani’s first sentence. One more example: とてもがんばっていただけに、リストラされたのはショックだったに違(ちが)いない (He had been working really hard, so getting fired must have come as a shock).

Bonus Dialogue: The Okubos are talking about their son, Mitsuo, who saw Mr. Okubo’s brother, a professor, yesterday.

妻:  お兄(にい)さん、さすがに大学(だいがく)の先生(せんせい)だけあって、光男(みつお)の扱(あつか)いが上手(じょうず)ね。 お兄さんと話(はな)してから、急 (きゅう)にまじめに勉強(べんきょう)し始(はじ)めたわ。

夫:  ぼくも、どうやって光男を納得(なっとく)させたのか気(き)になって、兄さんに聞(き)いてみたんだ。

妻:   光男も、受験生(じゅけんせい)なだけに、大学の 先生の話(はなし)には何(なに)か感(かん)じるものがあったのかしら?

夫:  まあ、それもあるだろうけど…。 光男が今(いま)やっているテレビゲーム、知(し)っている? 50人 ぐらいの村(むら)を作(つく)って、村同士(どうし)で戦(たたか)いながら宝探(たからさが)しをする、というようなストーリー。

妻:  うん。 光男はいつも、そのゲームの中(なか)の村長(そんちょう)が素晴(すばら)らしい人だと言って リスペクトしている。

夫:  昨日(きのう)、その村長が実(じつ)は兄さんだという ことを光男が知ったそうだ。

妻:  それで光男は兄さんの意見(いけん)を素直(すなお)に聞いたわけ? なんだかちょっと複雑(ふくざつ)な 気持(きも)ち…。

Wife: Since your big brother is a professor, he knows how to handle Mitsuo well. After speaking with your brother, Mitsuo suddenly began studying seriously.

Husband: I was wondering, too, how he persuaded Mitsuo, so I asked my brother.

Wife: Mitsuo has to take college entrance exams soon, so maybe listening to a professor talk made him feel something?

Husband: Well, that might be one reason. But you know that video game Mitsuo has been playing recently? It’s like a story where 50 players make one village, fight against other villages and find treasure.

Wife: Yeah. Mitsuo respects the mayor of his village in the game, always saying he’s a wonderful person.

Husband: Well, yesterday Mitsuo found out the mayor is actually my big brother.

Wife: So, that’s why Mitsuo listened to your brother’s opinion so obediently? I have complex feelings about that. (I don’t know how I feel about that.)