N2 L1 Reading Discussion

This is a discussion topic for the N2 Lesson 1 reading passages

Read on Bunpro

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The third reading (about “Lawrence of Arabia”) felt a bit harder than the other two in Lesson 1. What I struggle with the most is keeping track of the topic/who is carrying out the verbs in context. My struggles start in this sentence:

一番印象に残っているのは、広大な夜の砂漠で落馬して気を失い残された一人の兵隊にすぎないアラブ人じんを、探せるか、探しても帰ってこれるかも分からないのに来た道を一人で戻って行く。

I’m aware there’s an English translation, but I’m trying to confirm it through my own understanding, so below I’ll give my best guess for who performs each verb in the above sentence:

  • 印象に残る:私, the writer of the passage - we can know this based on the previous sentence(s) being about the writer of the passage.
  • 落馬して気を失い残される:アラブ人 - we can know this because it is revealed explicitly within the sentence. Note that in English we may be tempted to think of the “doer” as the one who left the アラブ人 unconscious, but the verb is in the passive voice precisely so we can talk about the someone doing the act of being left unconscious (by someone else). The doer of being left unconscious is the アラブ人.
  • 探せるか探しても:誰か, someone other than the author or the アラブ人 - we can know this because the アラブ人 is marked with を, and obviously the author cannot be the one to search a fictional character in a movie. Furthermore, the アラブ人 cannot search for him/herself.

After this point is where things get funky. After アラブ人 is marked with を, the doer of the first verb after this point (探す) is very clearly 誰か. So I would expect the doer of the rest of these verbs in that clause to also be this same 誰か entity.

But instead, the English translation on BunPro implies that it’s 誰か for 探す and then アラブ人 for the rest of the verbs. How come?

If 探す had been “conjugated” to the passive (探されるか探されても…), then I could see how it could be アラブ人 through and through since the passive allows you to talk about someone receiving actions without switching up whom you’re talking about.

Instead, what we see is that the doer just flip-flops (seemingly) randomly between 誰か and then back to アラブ人 ._.

Any help here would be appreciated.

My previous post is too lengthy and complicated (hence, no response). I can boil down my confusion now that I’ve processed some more.

In the third passage in this reading lesson, the sentence

一番印象に残っているのは、広大な夜の砂漠で落馬して気を失い残された一人の兵隊にすぎないアラブ人じんを、探せるか、探しても帰ってこれるかも分からないのに来た道を一人で戻って行く。

is translated by BunPro as follows:

The most memorable thing for me was that a mere solitary Arab soldier fell off his mount during the vast night of the desert, lost consciousness and was left behind. Then he goes back the way he came from alone, even though he wasn’t sure if he would be found or if he would be to find his way back home.

I was wondering if someone could help me understand how we know that the doer of 帰ってくる and 戻って行く is the アラブ人 despite the doer of 探す being someone other than the author or the アラブ人?

Just wanted to say I really like these grammar readings. They reinforce in context the particular items I’m studying at the moment and deepen my understanding. Thanks!

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Great question NikavGnaro. I don’t have an answer as I struggled to keep track of who is doing what in this sentence too. I wonder if anyone else can shed light here.

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This is how I understand the passage:

The most memorable part was how he (Lawrence), even though he didn’t know whether he could find what was nothing more than a single Arab soldier who had lost consciousness and fallen off his mount at night in the vast desert, or whether he would be able to return if he found him, still goes back the way they came by himself.

  • The subject is not explicit, but since the essay has established that it’s about a movie based on a British soldier, and no other characters have been established, I think it makes sense that an implicit subject would be that character.
  • 探せる is potential form and not passive because bunpro would never leave out the ら even though it happens in real life.
  • I can think of an alternative interpretation where the main subject is the Arab soldier but there’s a different implicit subject that would do the searching. In this case it goes something like “Even though he didn’t know whether they would look for him, he returned the way he came.” But this doesn’t make as much sense to me because, if the Arab retraces his path, he goes in the wrong direction. Supposedly he also lost consciousness, so unless there are tracks in the sand, he can’t find the way back. On the other hand, if there are tracks, he can follow them instead of going backwards. I’m also not sure if the nuance of 帰る works in this interpretation.
  • Later, there is the following passage. If we ignore the furigana おこなった for 行った and read it as いった, it confirms that it’s Lawrence who went.
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Your interpretation that the doer was Lawrence all the way makes perfect sense to me! Thanks! I think the Bunpro translation did me dirty on this one…