Seafood combo for massive profit!

As long as we’re on the topic, here’s another tai saying for you.

海老で鯛を釣る
(Ebi de tai wo tsuru; “Fish for sea bream with shrimp”)

Definition:

To make a great profit from just a little investment of time, money, or effort. To get something highly valued (such as sea bream) by using a cheap and common resource (such as a shrimp).

Breakdown:

The noun 海老 (ebi), written with the characters “ocean” and “old,” actually means “shrimp.” (Well, actually it refers to any long, thin decapod including lobster, crayfish, shrimp, and prawn. But “shrimp” is a correct translation on a relatively frequent basis.)

Anyway. This noun is marked with the particle (de), in this case indicating “the means by which an action is performed.” (Other examples of this usage include バスで行く, “go by bus,” or 鉛筆で書く, “write with a pencil.”) The verb which the shrimp is the means of comes at the end of the phrase, as they do in Japanese: 釣る (tsuru), “to fish” – i.e. to attempt to capture underwater prey with line, hook, and bait.

What do you fish out? The verb marks its direct object with the particle (wo), and the noun it marks is (tai), the same fish as last week.

Notes:

Ebi can also be written with the single character . The phrase can be contracted to 海老で鯛 (ebi de tai) or even えびたい (ebi-tai), although I’d say that the latter lacks a certain punch.

Example sentence:

「多くの人はきっと宝くじでちょっとした投資だけでかなりもうけると思い込み、海老で鯛を釣る夢に囚われているのだろう」

(“Ooku no hito wa kitto takarakuji de chotto shita toushi dake de kanari moukeru to omoikomi, ebi de tai wo tsuru yume ni torawareteiru no darou.”)

[“Many people doubtless come to believe that in the lottery, they can make a large amount of money with minimal investment, and are caught up in a dream of using a minnow to catch a whale.”]

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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