424 - と相まって

Let's talk about coffee and whipped cream:

ホイップクリームの甘みがコーヒーの苦味と相まって、とてもおいしいです。
ホイップクリーム の あまみ が コーヒー の にがみ とあいまって、 とても おいしい です。
The mix of sweetness from the whipped cream with the bitterness of coffee is really delicious.
Literally: “whipped cream + の + sweetness + が + coffee + の + bitterness + と相まって, + very + delicious + です.”

B gets added to A, which makes it C.

A = the sweetness of the whipped cream
B = the bitterness of the coffee
C = really delicious

One way that we can express this in written Japanese is by writing:

A + B + と相まって, C.

One of my grammar books translates と相まって as "go hand in hand with." That is a good translation sometimes. But I think a better translation might be "coupled with" or "combined with."

In the example above, I wrote: "The mix of A with B is C."

The Japanese just says: "A が B と相まって, C.

The key thing to remember with と相まって is that "B" is added to "A," thus increasing the intensity of "C."


Another example might help:

彼女の黒髪は褐色の肌と相まって、より一層美しく見える。
かのじょ の くろかみ は かっしょく の はだ とあいまって、 よりいっそう うつくしく みえる。
Paired with her dark brown skin, her black hair looks all the more beautiful.
Literally: “she + の + black hair + は + dark brown + の + skin + と相まって, + all the more + beautiful + appears.”

A = black hair
B = dark brown skin
C = appears all the more beautiful

Her black hair は dark brown skin と相まって, it looks all the more beautiful.
→ Dark brown skin gets added to her black hair, making it all the more beautiful.
→ → Paired with her dark brown skin, her black hair looks all the more beautiful.


All of my grammar books just write と相まって, but is also common to say things like と~と相まって.

For example:

シンガポールは、東洋の文化西洋の文化が相まって、独特の雰囲気を漂わせている。
シンガポール は、 とうよう の ぶんか と せいよう の ぶんか とがあいまって、 どくとく の ふんいき を ただよわせている。
Singapore, with its coupling of eastern and western cultures, has a unique feel to it.
Literally: “Singapore + は, + eastern / oriental + の + culture + と + western / the west + の + culture + とが相まって, + unique + の + vibe / ambiance + を + is making drift / float.”

A = eastern culture
B = western culture
C = a unique feel / vibe

Singapore は, eastern culture と western culture とが相まって, it creates a unique vibe.
→ Western culture gets added to eastern culture, giving Singapore a unique vibe.
→ → Singapore, with its coupling of eastern and western cultures, has a unique feel to it.


These sentences may already seem a bit difficult.

As such, I'm sorry to drop the following on you: Sometimes it's not always so clear what A, B, and C are.

Also, we don't always have to have と in front of 相まって. It is also common, for example, have も.

Take this example:

エスニック料理の流行相まって、ハーブを育てる人が増えているそうです。
エスニック りょうり の りゅうこう もあいまって、 ハーブ を そだてる ひと が ふえている そうです。
It is said that the number of people growing their own herbs is increasing alongside the growing popularity of ethnic food.
Literally: “ethnic + cooking + の + fad / craze + も相まって, + herb + を + raise / grow + person + が + is increasing + そうです (=it is said that).”

This is the one sentence we have in which ~相まって really does mean something like "hand in hand."

Our sentence is structured like this:

A = people growing herbs
B = the ethnic food craze
C = increasing

B も相まって, A が C.

That is, "The number of people growing their own herbs is increasing hand in hand with the ethnic food craze."


Ah, translating makes me tired sometimes.

Suffice it to say that と相まって makes just enough sense that, as long as you know all of the words in the sentence, you should be able to understand what it means... even if you can't put it into perfect English.

Hopefully by the time we're studying for N1 we're not trying to put everything in to English anyways, yeah?

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