何を黙っている

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thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
『......シン、何を黙っているんだい。まずはーー』

Hi. Since 黙る is an intransitive verb, why is を used here? Shouldn’t it be なんで黙っている?
Thank you.
 
  • Sixteenfu

    New Member
    Chinese
    なんで黙っている has a more neutral tone.
    何を黙っているんだい implies a condition where something should be said or done but the mentioned person stayed idle instead.
    You can think this sentence as "What (bothered you so much that you) are so quiet?"
     

    Yokozuna

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I've never used 何をだまっているんだい.
    I prefer なんで黙っているんだい.
     

    Yokozuna

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    なんで means 'why'.
    何を is different from ‘why’, it's similar to ' what about' or 'what at'.
    I agree with Sixteenfu-san for what the author wanted to imply, but 何を+黙っている is not a common phrase.

    Ex.)
    何を考えているんだい? (What are you thinking about?)
    or 何を言っているんだい? (What are you talking about)
    is natural.
     
    Last edited:

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    何を黙っているんだい implies a condition where something should be said or done but the mentioned person stayed idle instead.
    A more transparent construction is なにをそんなに. Typing just as much char string into Google returns suggestions including:
    何をそんなに心配しているのかね
    何をそんなに急いでるの
    何をそんなに力んどるんや
    何をそんなに怒っているの

    These utterances often stand to have a connotation "when there seems no need to." E.g., What are you so worked up with, when there seems no need to?

    While Yokozuna is right about it's a rare collocation, 何を黙っている is intended to convey the speaker's wonder at the silence of the listener. Their wonder may be motivated by reproach like Sixteenfu has guessed, but I think it may be also motivated by concern.
     

    splash_

    New Member
    Russian
    It somehow looks similar to subject rising in matrix clauses:
    ジョンはマリーバカだと思っていた
    ジョンはマリーバカだと思っていた
    ジョンはマリー犯人だと断定した
    ジョンはマリー犯人だと断定した
    (Kuno,Susumu,1972)

    From other point of view it's similar to using を with intransitive verbs in causative form. Where に implies agreement and will of causee, whilst を implies that the action was against the will of causee (which include inanimate causee obviously).

    Anyway, it's written in 明鏡国語辞典 that in questions with intransitive verbs 何を implies a question about reason. Seems like it's used with the verbs describing some visible state or actions of a person, which are a bit unexpected.
    何を泣いているのか?
    何をためらうことがあろうか
    何をぐずぐずしてるんだ!

    Looks like sometimes it helps to distinguish different question nuances. From 'stackexchange':
    • 何に驚いているんですか?
      What are you surprised at?
      (I know you are surprised, but I don't know what you are surprised at.)
    • 何を驚いているんですか?
      Why are you surprised at this?
      (I know what you are surprised at, but I don't understand why you are surprised. "It's no wonder", "Isn't it obvious?")
    In that case Sixteenfu's explanation fits.

    何で黙っているんだい - question about the reason of his silence ("May be it's because you surprised? Or you've just bitten your tong?")
    何を黙っているんだい - question about... hmm... meta-reason ("I know, it's a bit surprising, but why are you silent? Don't tell me you didn't know that")
     
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