That is the first sentence in Chapter 9 of 中級へ行こう, and it’s a doozy. My first reaction to that sentence was “huh?!” That was also my second reaction, as well as my third and possibly my fourth. For my own edification, I am going to break that sentence down and see what sort of sense I can get out of it.
Here we go.
I might as well start by splitting it in half at the comma. That seems like a good start.
I am going to follow that up by breaking it at the particle と. That leaves me with
以前女性の職場 which is not too bad.
以前 – before, in the past etc.
女性の職場 – woman’s workplace
So far so good. Now, the next bit:
と言われている is a set phrase meaning it is said, but here we have it in the past, so it was said
and 所で indicates a change of topic coming up or perhaps it is something like by the way
So let’s tackle the second half
Let’s split that in half.
男性も働く– is the simple men also work
ようになった is a set phrase indicating some kind of habit or change of habit.
Let’s do a clunky rather more translation first.
In what were before said to be women’s workplaces,men also habitually now work.
So I am going to render this as Men also work in what used to be called women’s workplaces or maybe even Men have also started to work in what used to be called women’s workplaces.
Breaking a sentence down this way is, for me, at least, sometimes the only way to really extract the meaning from it. It gets complicated by the fact that Japanese and English often arrange things in ways that are backwards form each other, as in the case of this sentence.
Well, anyway, that’s one sentence down. 朝飯前。 Now for sentence number two…
I have explained this before, but not for quite awhile. 朝飯前 literally means before breakfast. The implication is that something is so easy you can get it done before breakfast, so it is a Japanese equivalent to something like “It’s a snap” or “Piece of cake.” It is one of my favorite Japanese words, so I just had to toss it in.