Can someone help me understand this sentence?

Hi there!
I was reading a short text and found this sentence:

“ほんと? じゃどうしたんだろう、始終あすこで見かけるって云っていた人があってよ”

Deepl translate it like this: “Really? I don’t know what’s going on. Someone told me they see you around here all the time.”

I just don’t get where the you in “they see you” is coming from… Could someone. I know in japanese you can omit the pronouns quite often but I just don’t get how I’m supposed to guess that this is what it means.
If anyone can help, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks a lot!

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Hey,

Roughly translated:

“始終あす” = All the time
“見かけるって” = See you from the verb 見る To See/Watch.
“云っていた人があってよ” = Someone said

Hope that helps

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The “you” that DeepL includes is something it’s filling in. It’s not explicitly given in the original sentence and could be someone (or something) else if the context makes that clear. I think that, if there isn’t another object specified or implied for 見かける, it’s implied that the object is the listener.

As for why DeepL chose “you”, it could also be that enough similar sentences in its training data were translated with “you” instead of something else that “you” was the strongest candidate for that part of the translation, but it could as easily have been something else. It frequently adds hims, hers, etc. in the translation that don’t appear in the original sentence too.

With that in mind, in case it helps you or someone else, here’s my attempt to break that part of the sentence down further.

始終 - Can carry the sense of “constantly”, “always”
あすこ - A variant spelling of あそこ, “there” (somewhere away from the speaker and the listener)
で - Marks the location of an action
見かける- Has the meaning of “to catch sight of”, “to notice”, “to see”, “to witness”,
って - Casual quote particle
云っていた - A variant spelling of 言っていた. That is, 言う (to say) → 言っている (is saying)→ 言っていた (was saying)

That whole clause (始終あすこで見かけるって云っていた) modifies 人, so you get something like “a person who was saying they always see [someone/something] there”.

あって may be the connective form of ある (to be, exist). Despite having read that ある isn’t used for people (or other living things), I did find other examples of “(modifying clause)人がある” translated as “there are people who” (which could also be “there is a person/someone who”) and it sounds like ある is also used in some fixed expressions.

So then you have “(There is) someone (who) was saying they always see [someone/something] there”, which can be more naturally phrased like the translation DeepL gave.

Hope that helps and, if I’ve made any mistakes in this, I hope someone will correct them.

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Hey, thanks a lot for your answer, it did help greatly ideed!
I just have a hard time translating Japanese phrases with a pattern that I’ve not come across before because I feel like each word could mean an awful lots of things and on top of that I’m having a hard time with not explicitly given pronouns.

Anyway, thanks a lot again for your thorough explanations!

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Happy to help! And yeah, I know the feeling. Some words can mean quite a few things and choosing the right meaning gets to be a challenge at times. Context is key. Same for filling in the missing pronouns.

In case it’s of any further use, I was curious about the context here, so I searched for the sentence you posted and found the short text it comes from. In this case, we have a dialogue between two people and, although the sentence you posted doesn’t have explicit pronouns, the ones leading up to it do and give good clues as to how to fill in the blanks.

In the first sentence—I’ve removed a couple modifying clauses to simplify it slightly—one asks the other a question

私のそばである友達が「あなた、染物屋の横にあるお風呂へよく行くの」ときいた。
My friend, who was beside me, asked, “Do you often go to the bath next to the dyehouse?”

and gets a no in response. Then they follow up, surprised, with the statement you posted, which has two blanks to fill: a pronoun for a place (あすこ), and the omitted object of 見かける. From the earlier question, we can fill those in like so:

始終染物屋の横にあるお風呂あなたを見かけるって云っていた人があってよ
Someone said/told me that they see you at the bath next to the dyehouse all the time.

The sentence in isolation could be talking about someone else, but we can rule those other people out. It’d be… a bit strange for this third party to be saying they saw themself, so we can toss that out right away. If they were talking about someone who isn’t the speaker or the listener here, the speaker would have had to explicitly mention that person, or the listener (and the reader) would have no way of knowing who it is. Lastly, given how the conversation has gone so far, we can assume they probably weren’t talking about the speaker either.

This post got slightly long again, but hopefully it does a decent job showing a way to sort out implicit pronouns like this.

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Just to follow up on the solid answer from @GangsterOfBoats, something I read recently that has been helpful for me to think about is that a Japanese sentence never exists without context. So on it’s own you’re right, where the heck is “you” coming from, but a Japanese person wouldn’t say that sentence without the listener knowing what unspoken people (or topics, subjects, etc) were implied.

In the same way if I said “元気です” I might be saying my dog is healthy for all you know, but if you asked if I was well and I said “元気です” I’m pretty sure we’d both know I meant myself. It’s all about context.

It doesn’t exactly help in a concrete way, but maybe can help you accept why example sentences can feel so ambiguous all the time.

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