I'm trying to translate a Japanese essay into English.

I am not a professional translator. I just want to improve my English writing skill. I am posting my translations into a web site Lang-8. This is my profile in Lang-8. http://lang-8.com/1483508

The original sentence doesn't matter here. The translated sentence is as follows.

Knowing what it is by which they somewhat trust you, if you are inconspicuously using it to preserve your "status", shame on you.

Is the phrase "Knowing what it is by which they somewhat trust you" grammatically correct?

If there is another way to say this, I would like to know that.

  • I don't see any grammar issue.
    – user3169
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:17
  • I think the phrase is grammatically correct, but not really used in the right way. The whole sentence is such word salad it's hard to figure out if it's correct or not. I'm guessing it's supposed to mean something like "If, because you know what it is that makes them trust you, you use that thing to preserve your status, then shame on you"?
    – stangdon
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:35
  • We normally trust people for a reason, not by. ...for which they somewhat... though "why" or "the reason why" would be more succinct than "what it is for which".
    – TimR
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:37
  • @stangdon Yes, that's what I meant to say. Feb 2, 2016 at 23:40
  • @TRomano Using by which is OK though. For example, "The standards by which people are judged."
    – user3169
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:56

2 Answers 2


Since you have said to ignore the original (and questions of fidelity to the original) and that you want to improve your writing skill...

You can dramatically simplify the sentence by finding a verb that means "to use something for one's personal advantage, especially in a dishonorable way"

If you exploit their trust in order to preserve your own status, shame on you.

The question remains, what to do about "inconspicuously". I'd suggest "slyly" or "deviously".

If you deviously exploit their trust in order to preserve your own status, shame on you.

Deviously expresses the idea of "using one's knowledge in an underhanded manner".

  • Thank you. I rewrote my translation by adopting your suggestion as follows. Knowing the reason why they somewhat trust you, if you deviously exploit their trust to preserve your own "status", shame on you. lang-8.com/1483508/journals/… Feb 3, 2016 at 17:47
  • @Makoto Kato: That's an idiomatic sentence. But the modifier somewhat and the quotation marks around status are a little puzzling. Somewhat means that they have not fully given their trust; they are somewhat suspicious or reluctant for some other reason. Is that your intention? I don't know what you mean to suggest with the quotation marks around status.
    – TimR
    Feb 3, 2016 at 21:48
  • I meant by "they somewhat trust you" they trust you not necessarily fully. The "status" means the status of the "rabbi". The both are metaphors. There are some subtleties in the original text. I wish I could translate them faithfully. Feb 4, 2016 at 3:05
  • OK. As long as you are aware that the sentence requires context to make sense of those quotation marks. Without the context that explains them, the reader would be puzzled.
    – TimR
    Feb 4, 2016 at 12:12

I'm not 100% sure of the meaning, but I would say it is ungrammatical simply because I can't think of a construction where "they trust you by [something]". Rather than "by", it should be "due to" or "because" or something similar. My best guess at a translation would be "Knowing the reason that they trust you to some extent", but that will require you to change the subsequent phrase.

  • Then, is "Knowing what it is because of which they somewhat trust him" grammatically correct? Feb 3, 2016 at 2:05
  • It's grammatically correct but very unwieldy and hard to understand. It would be much clearer to say "knowing the reason they..." or simply "knowing why they...".
    – BlueDot
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:21
  • I also recommend finding a synonym for "somewhat", perhaps "to an extent" or "a bit" placing it at the end of the phrase: "...they trust him to some extent".
    – BlueDot
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:41

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