Hi everyone

I found the sentence below in the subtitles of Japanes anime called Samurai 7 sold for people in the world. Emotion: smile

'How long have you been hiding that sadness in your eyes while you smiled?' (A Japanese musician is singing this in Japanese. It's lyric.)

My direct translation from the orginal Japanese lyric would be
'How many times did you smile, hiding that sadness?'
I like the first one (How long have you been...) of course Emotion: smile
(Actually direct translation is impossible. What is impossible is in the 'How many times' part. It could be 'How long' or something.)

My question's this:

'while you smiled' is okay?

I know what it means and it sounds cool. I think it's grammatically correct but I want to make sure with you. As a learner, I see a 'while' clause usually refers to a longer period of time than that of main clause. In this case, the 'while' could be replaced by 'when' ,that makes it less cool, though.

I find your proposition correct too... Here, "while" more or less means "when", so your sentence could mean "when/every time you smiles"; the simple past refers to the complete, finite action of smiling.

If you use the progressive form, it's as if you had taken a snapshot of the person as s/he is smiling, it doesn't refer to the total action. It's a bit like "every time I saw you smiling".
My question's this:
'while you smiled' is okay?Yes, but I find it a little anomalous. In fact, I like your direct translation better. How many times did you smile, hiding that sadness? I might also have said How many times have you smiled, hiding that sadness?


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Hi pieanne
I'm happy to hear your comment. I find your explanation really helpful to me. I understand!
CJ, are you a professional subtitles writer? I think one you mentioned could surpass the original.

Thank you very much.
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