I'm translating this old book I have from Japanese to English, and I was wondering how to 'add emphasis' in English.

背後で聞き覚えのある声がして、 思わずー歩後ずさってしまった。

A rough translation is:

I sense behind me a certain voice I remember hearing before, so I instinctively retreat with one step forward.

I think in the above instance the して is being used to emphasis, as defined by the fourth definition on Jisho.org, shown below.

  1. by (indicating means of action); as (a group, etc.)​
  2. indicates patient of a causative expression​ - as 〜をして in modern Japanese
  3. acts as a connective - ​after the ren'youkei form of an adjective

4. adds emphasis - ​after an adverb or a particle

How do I show 'emphasis' on what's already translated in English?

EDIT: Apparently I messed up on my original translation, and what I thought was a emphasis particle is actually a verb. Sorry for posting when my knowledge was incorrect.

  • 3
    For the benefit of non-Japanese speakers, what word or phrase is being emphasized in the original? – Mark Beadles May 7 at 0:23
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    Not that it has any authority, but Google translate gives for the second phrase "I suddenly got lost after walking." That said "take one step forward in retreat" is either very poetic, or very counterintuitive. Did you mean 'backward'? – Mitch May 7 at 0:35
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    What do you want to emphasize??? – Hot Licks May 7 at 0:57
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    @MarkBeadles Oh... yes, you'd have to go forwards. But that is surely not a retreat. Retreat and forwards do not mix. – Mitch May 7 at 1:00
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because what OP thought was a emphasis particle is actually a verb. – Mark Beadles May 7 at 5:23

I would suggest that you use the word do for emphasis in that case. Looking at TFD Online, we see that do is

  1. Used as a means of emphasis: I do want to be sure.

You can put that emphasis in a couple of places.

Behind me comes a certain voice I do remember ...


Behind me does come a certain voice I remember ...

Of the two I prefer the first.

Reasoning: Since して is used to add emphasis and is an inflected form of する, and the bare verb form (する) has some pretty strong equivalence to the English auxiliary verb do, this feels like the best way to add emphasis without muddying the meaning of the original Japanese.

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