(cf. every karaoke party ever)

This week’s saying stands in opposition to last week’s:

下手の横好き
(Heta no yokozuki; “Enthusiastic but bad.”)

Definition:

Despite a complete and utter lack of skill, still being really into something. Fanatical about something but hopeless at it.

Breakdown:

下手 (heta), literally “down hand,” is a noun indicating awkwardness or lack of skill. 横好き (yokozuki) is another noun, a compound of (yoko), meaning “horizontal” or “sideways,” and 好き (suki, becoming voiced and changing to –zuki in the compound), which indicates good feeling toward something, commonly translated into English as the verb “like.” The weird part is that, apparently, the entire meaning of the saying is encapsulated in this compound alone: yokozuki by itself means “enthusiastic but bad.” Attach heta with the associative particle (no), and it seems to mainly act as an intensifier for how bad the unskillfulness is.

Notes:

Keep in mind that while this is often cited as antonymical to last week’s 好きこそ物の上手なれ, it can be seen as complementary. After all, no matter how single-minded you are about something, you’re never good at the very beginning. The key to going from 下手 to 上手, then, is in keeping the 好き throughout the learning process. That said, in actual usage this kotowaza mostly refers to dabblers who enjoy an activity without especially pursuing excellence in it.

Replacing with (mono) is acceptable, but replacing the particle with (na) is not, despite there being a number of situations in modern Japanese in which they’re interchangeable.

This is another old phrase, apparently attested in a kyogen play from the late Muromachi period!

Example sentence:

下手の横好きで、兄が毎晩ギターを弾いている」

(Heta no yokozuki de, ani ga maiban gitaa wo hiiteiru.”)

[“Even though he totally sucks at it, my (older) brother’s in love with the guitar and plays it every night.”]

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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