Tuesday, February 26, 2008

~ば〜ほど

Here is a grammar structure that I can't find a good English translation for. Perhaps the 3 readers who frequent this blog might help me shed some light on exactly what I'm looking at here:

酒を飲めば飲むほど酔っ払うものだから、飲み過ぎていけません。

"If you drink alcohol more and more you will get drunk, so you shouldn't drink too much."

That's essentially the translation, backed up by my super-slick wifetionary. However, I told her as I'm writing here, I don't get a clear translation from the 〜ば〜ほど structure. It's kind of rubbish to me.

Yes I can memorize changing the first verb to the conditional, adding ば, then changing the second to the plain form and add ほど. That part is easy. The tough thing is getting a better translation of the term than 'more and more'. This is going to wear on my nerves day in and day out.

Surely there is something more eloquent out there? Perhaps some readers could help out with comments?

7 comments:

tulaman said...

The only thing I can realise is the short form of "A は B ほど". If so B=飲む and A は is skipped and translation will be "If you drink alcohol as you drink you'll get drunk, so you shouldn't drink too much." Hope there will be another versions :)

Anonymous said...

A brief glance through my grammar book came up with this explanation (yes I know it's cheating to quote directly from the book, but who cares)

"shows that as one thing increases, the other increases as well".

The example they give in the book is "nan demo renshuu sure ba suru hodo jouzi ni naru" (the more you practice, the better you get).

To link this to your example, I wonder if it means "as you drink more, you get (more) drunk" and since this sounds funky in english, someone has 'sanitised it' to the 'more and more' version.

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

Similar to the comment above, when I learned this structure I was told it was the equivalent of "the more you... the more...".

For example ビートルズの音楽を聞けば聞くほど好きです - "the more I listen to The Beatles' music, the more I like it".

So perhaps your example could be translated as "the more alcohol you drink the drunker you become, so you shouldn't drink too much"...?

帝羅 said...

Thanks for all your input guys! I usually get the structure somewhat stuck in my head like you've all pointed out - "the more you A the more B" - but it still bites me as kind of a weird way to go about it.

I'm still banging through the Japanese grammar rules - one day this will all settle into place in the old gray matter!

Anonymous said...

Seem like you're using Unicom JLPT 2 grammar book (just like me).

Here, let me help you a bit.

酒は飲めば飲むほど酔っ払うものだから、 (with the particle は) = The more you drink, the faster you get drunk.

You could also translate 飲みすぎてはいけませんよ as "Don’t get carried away" or "You should know your limit".
This expression is much stronger in English than saying "So don't drink too much".

(1) 酒は飲めば飲むほど酔っ払うものだから、飲みすぎてはいけませんよ。
(1) The more you drink, the faster you get drunk, so don’t get carried away.

Anonymous said...

The more you drink the drunker you'll get.

The ba/hodo structure matches the English expression:

The more the merrier~!