Understanding the nuances of わかる （分・解・判）
So there I was minding my own business playing Nier Replicant when I encountered this line:
(Translation from the English version of the game: “I’m not sure this will help, but I know a guy who has the same disease.”)
Here, 「判る」 (or, well 「判らん」） reads as 「わかる」
I have already seen it used in the game at least once but wanted to see if it would show up again and it did! Don’t think I’ve ever seen this boy in the wild before so I decided to look up how it is different from its siblings 分かる and 解る.
Is the most common of them all. If you are reading this post, you probably already know what it means so why would I write about that? Moving on.
This verb involves a clear understanding of the matter. In particular, it means being able to understand the meaning, contents (not *physical* contents, mind you), the worth etc of something. Requires a 理解, so to speak.The idea of being able to grasp the contents of something can be seen in words like 聴解 (listening comprehension) and 読解 (reading comprehension). You can use it in sentences like:
英語が解る。(”I understand English”)
問題が解る。 (”I understand the problem\the task”)
An example from Nier: Replicant itself:
Translation from the English version of the game:
Weiss: Such affection! This man has clearly been entranced by his lover.
Nier: Seems to be he is being played.
Weiss: Whatever do you mean?
Nier: You know, this may be one of those things a magic book just can’t understand.
Weiss: Ridiculous! There is nothing beyond my knowledge! (I would’ve said “beyond my understanding” instead but Nier:Replicant’s translation is honestly too good to criticise)
It also has another usage! 解る is used when talking about understanding somebody, like, on having an emotional capacity to understand someone’s feelings.
俺の気持ちが解るもんか！(”No way you can understand how I feel!”)
私はあの人の事がよく解るわ。(”I understand him well”)
Now onto the thing that started it all. Most likely the first thing that pops in your head when you see the kanji 「判」are words like 「判断」or 「判明」which are basically what this is about. 判る involves being able to give a judgement on something, to classify and seperate. Guessing write from wrong (善悪が判る), seeing the difference between two or more things (違いが判る）
Back to the phrase at the very begnning of this post.
「役に立つか判らんが。。。」is a very good example for this verb because something’s usefullness is definitely something you can judge.
In the first case, we have more of a general quesiton. A simpe “Do you know this person?”, as if in do you know their name, have you spoken before etc.
The second sentence, however, implies that you don’t, in fact, know the person in question but there are clues that can help you figure out who they are. Like when you can understand where they came from by their accent or whatever.
I’ll add more to this post if I have more thoughts on this. God, I love kanji. This was so much fun.
Note: I’m neither a native nor a professional linguist and all the information in this post is based on my personal knowledge or stuff I found on the internet.
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