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Takushī yori mushiro aruita hō ga hayai desu yo.

(It’s faster to walk rather than to take a taxi.)

 

Situation 1: Ms. Shiba and Mr. Tien are going to meet a client.

芝: プッシュ社までちょっと距離がありますね。タクシーで行きましょうか。

ティエン: 今日は道が混んでいるようですから、タクシーよりむしろ歩いたほうが早いですよ。

Shiba: Pusshu-sha made chotto kyori ga arimasu ne. Takushī de ikimashō ka.

Tien: Kyō wa michi ga konde-iru yō desu kara, takushī yori mushiro aruita hō ga hayai desu yo.

Shiba: It’s a bit of a distance to Push Co. Shall we go by taxi?

Tien: It seems like the roads are crowded today, so it’s faster to walk rather than to take a taxi.

 

In Japanese, the adverb むしろ means “rather (than),” and is often used in the structure XよりむしろY. This shows that the speaker prefers Y compared to X, or thinks that Y is better than X:

あの人(ひと)は編集者(へんしゅうしゃ)よりむしろ教師(きょうし)に向(む)いている。

(That person is better suited to be a teacher rather than an editor.)

The structure XというよりむしろYだ means “more Y than X” and expresses the speaker’s opinion more strongly on a set of characteristics. The phrase following the adverb むしろ indicates the speaker’s judgment or thought:

この本(ほん)は子(こ)どもの本というより、むしろ哲学(てつがく)の本だ。

(This book is more of a philosophy book instead of a children’s book.)

 

Situation 2: Mr. Ichikawa is suffering from a sore back.

セレ: ぎっくり腰になっちゃったんだって?安静にしていたほうがいいんじゃない?

市川: 大丈夫。じっとしていると、かえって治りが遅いんだって。

Sere: Gikkurigoshi ni natchatta-n datte? Ansei ni shite-ita hō ga ii-n ja nai?

Ichikawa: Daijōbu. Jitto shite-iru to, kaette naori ga osoi-n datte.

Sere: I heard you slipped a disc? Wouldn’t it be better to get some rest?

Ichikawa: I’m OK. They say if I stay still, on the contrary, it will take longer to heal.

 

The adverb かえって can be translated as “on the contrary,” and is used to indicate that the result is against one’s expectations. In Situation 2, Mr. Sere thinks that lying motionless would help a strained back, but Mr. Ichikawa uses かえって to point out that the opposite is true in his case. What comes before かえって indicates something expected or considered common knowledge:

説明(せつめい)を聞(き)いたら、かえってわからなくなってしまった。 (I heard the explanation but, contrary to what I expected, became even more confused.)

Although むしろ and かえって are similar in meaning, it is important to remember that むしろ implies the selection of the latter option out of two based on the judgement of the speaker. かえって is based on observational fact:

9月(くがつ)より10月(じゅうがつ)のほうがむしろ/かえって暑(あつ)かった。 (It was hotter in October than September.)

 

Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 1.

芝(しば): 感染者(かんせんしゃ)は夏(なつ)には減(へ)ると思(おも)われていたけど、かえって増加(ぞうか)してしまいましたね。冬(ふゆ)になってからも、また増(ふ)えてきてしまって。

ティエン: ええ、またしばらくはリモートワークを続(つづ)けなければなりませんね。

芝: リモートワークも定着(ていちゃく)してきましたが、やはり対面(たいめん)で仕事(しごと)をするほうが早(はや)いです。

ティエン: でも、リモートワークのほうがかえって仕事が進(すす)むという人もいますよ。それに、通勤(つうきん)しなくていいですから。

芝: それはそうですね。でも、会社(かいしゃ)に行(い)くより、家(いえ)にいるほうがむしろ働(はたら)ける時間(じかん)が減るという人もいますよ。たとえば、うちのように、小(ちい)さい子どもがいると、どうしても世話(せわ)をしなければなりませんから。

ティエン: ああ、そうですね。でも、こういう大変(たいへん)なことがかえってよい結果(けっか)につながることもありますし。この事態(じたい)をチャンスと考(かんが)えたいですね。

Shiba: It was thought that the number of infected people would decrease in the summer, but on the contrary, it increased. Even as winter starts, it will totally come to increase again.

Tien: Yeah, we must continue to work remotely for the time being.

Shiba: Remote work has come to be established, but it’s still faster to work in person.

Tien: But, on the contrary, there are people who say that working from home is more efficient. Besides, we don’t have to commute.

Shiba: That’s right. But, some people say that they have less time to work at home rather than (when they’re) in the office. For example, people like me who have small kids to take care of.

Tien: Ah, that’s true. But these difficulties can, contrary to what you’d think, sometimes lead to good results. I want to think of this situation as an opportunity.

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