305 - にあって

I'm such a nerd.

I've really been looking forward to writing some N1 lessons, because the JLPT N1 is full of grammar that you don't come across much in everyday life.

Well, if everyday life includes reading novels and articles, maybe you'll come across this grammar a bit more.

But I certainly don't.

Which means that I can learn lots of new stuff!

For example, Rei helped me prepare the sentences for this lesson, and I learned all kinds of things, such as this word:

闘病生活
とう びょう せい かつ
(means and time spent) fighting an illness

This is 四字熟語 (よじじゅくご // four-character idiomatic compounds)---an area of Japanese that you can pretty much never stop studying because there are just so many of them. Cassy did a lesson about these once: [NDL #153] - Four Character Compounds.

Anyways, I often find that I know half of a 四字熟語, but not the other half. Which is what happened here (生活 being a very common word).

But we also have a word in this lesson that is a five-kanji compound!

This time it's a combination of two words that are both common:

必要
ひつよう
necessary; needed

不可欠
ふかけつ
indispensable; essential

必要不可欠
ひつようふかけつ
indispensable; essential; imperative

The meaning between those last two isn't really all that different. Using the combo-version just adds emphasis to the necessity of whatever is being discussed.

Speaking of what's being discussed, we're supposed to be talking about N1 grammar! Let's do that:


JLPT N1: にあって

First, let's get the easy part out of the way:

にあって will always come after a noun.

Next, the tricky part... the meaning.

にあって means something like "in" or "at," but it is only used in a limited number of circumstances. Typically the construction looks like this:

[Special Situation] + にあって + [Something in relation to that situation].

The "special situation" is often (but not always) negative, in which it may be followed by another negative phrase.

Like this:

この不況にあって、人々は老後の心配をしている。
この ふきょう にあって、 ひとびと は ろうご の しんぱい を している。
In this recession, people are worried about when they get older.
Literally: "this + depression / recession + にあって, + people + は + old age + の + worry + を + are doing."

In some sentences, the "special situation" might have more of a neutral tone:

グローバル化する社会にあって、英語の習得は必要不可欠となっている。
グローバルか する しゃかい にあって、 えいご の しゅうとく は ひつようふかけつ と なっている。
In this globalizing society, English acquisition is becoming indispensable.
Literally: "globalization + do + society + にあって, + English + の + acquisition + は + indispensable / essential + と + is becoming."

Finally, the second half of the sentence might be positive even though the "special situation" is negative:

長い闘病生活にあって、あなたはどうして笑顔でいられるのですか。
ながい とうびょう せいかつ にあって、 あなた は どうして えがお で いられるのですか。
How can you keep smiling when you've been fighting this illness for so long?
Literally: "long + (means and time spent) fighting an illness + にあって, + you + は + why [how] + smiling face + で + can be + の + ですか."

Like a lot of N1 grammar, this is primarily used in written Japanese. So, sadly, you probably won't look too cool using it at the next fancy cocktail party you attend. Sorry.

Be sure to drill these example sentences into your brain. Gotta ace those tests.

In particular, it might help to memorize this phrase:

この不況にあって
この ふきょう にあって
in this depression

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