A Criticism on 自分なり

Today I found a Japanese learner who did not understand what “なり” as in “自分なり” means.

As a native Japanese, I cannot explain it grammatically. Instead, I would like to study it just as an idiom.

What does “自分なり” mean?

A definition in Japanese:


A definition in English:

to interpret in one’s own way

A definition in (traditional) Chinese:

自分なり 就是像自己的意思
名詞後加なり 就是指像前面這個名詞的樣子
例如:母親なり 意思就是有做母親的樣子,直譯就會翻成像母親一般
這種句法最常會用在自分なり 是指做自己或是有自我風格的意思

So 自分なり means one’s own way.

I also found an article that criticizes the notion behind 自分なり:

「自分なりに精一杯頑張りました」という言葉の裏には、 「だから失敗しても許してください」 って、逃げの感情が隠れているように思えてなりません。
「自分なりに」頑張った、と言われても、それが本当に相手のためになっているかはわからない。 さっきの彼だって、結局は自分の非を認めたくないから、綺麗でそれらしく聞こえる言葉でうまく言い訳しているだけです。

I have translated this passage into English:

What did he mean by his own way? It is a clever word, but it can be also an unresponsive word. He said “I did my best.” What he really meant must be “Forgive me. I failed, but it’s not my fault.” How does “his best” make sense to me (or anyone)? Was it the best for me? He must have made an excuse using a decorative but vague word, because he didn’t want to admit his fault.

Oh, that’s too bad! You had better know a socially-approved way.

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