I am translating the 2002 book, Phantom: Ein by Gen Urobuchi and co-written by the company REACTION from Japanese to English. I have already decided on which of the following two sentences I'm going to use for my translation, so this is not a question about translation. I'm asking more about the differences in the sentence nuance between the two variations of the bolded sentence in the provided context below.

Context: Two characters, Claudia and Scythe, are having a conversation about a third character. The following is the best English approximation I have made for the original text.

“……Isn’t your specialty brainwashing?” Claudia appears to interject with a polite murmur.

"Correct. It is perfect. Already my medical treatment by means of hypnotism and drugs should be complete. According to my knowledge and judgement for example, that as one’s identity is influenced by one’s memories it’s simply a matter of sealing up the latter. Him being able to speak his native language for instance, is because it’s what he may see and understand. Even so, he understands anything but not what is only about himself.

(1)His name, his family, his friends…… he is unable to remember even one of them. (2)His name, his family, his friends…… he is unable to even remember one of them. He is in the ideal condition for training."

What is the difference in the nuances of the bolded sentence when the word 'even' is moved to make one sentence instead of the other?

Any help is appreciated!


1 Answer 1


"Even" is used in these sentences an intensifier. In sentence (1), "even one of them" suggests that it is surprising or remarkable that on this list of things that he should know very well (his name, family, and friends), there is not a single one that he can remember. In sentence (2), "even remember" puts more emphasis on the surprising or remarkable nature of his lack of memory.

For example, consider the difference between the following two sentences:

"He was so allergic, he couldn't pet even one of the cats."

"He was so allergic, he couldn't even pet one of the cats."

The first sentence implies that just one cat will set off his allergies. In the second sentence, it is the act of petting that sets off his allergies.

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