Now I’m caught on the phrase “ear-spoon.”

Counterpoint:

杓子は耳掻きにならず
(Shakushi wa mimikaki ni narazu; “A ladle can not be used as an ear-spoon.”)

Definition:

This saying directly opposes last week’s 大は小を兼ねる. It declares that a larger thing can not necessarily fulfill the role of a smaller one, by offering a clear example in which it would be impossible.

Breakdown:

We start with the noun 杓子 (shakushi), “ladle.” The particle (wa) marks it as the topic of the phrase, and implicitly contrasts it with the following noun – 耳掻き (mimikaki), “ear pick” aka “ear spoon.” (This noun is formed from 耳 – mimi, “ear” – and the verb 掻く – kaku, “to scratch,” in conjunctive form.) Next we have the directional particle in a somewhat abstract mode, and finally the verb なる (naru), “to become,” in imperfective form so that it can take the sentence-final negative suffix (zu).

Notes:

It’s a complex issue and all generalizations are false, as they say: whether a “big” pen can do the work of a “small” pen might depend on whether the “bigness” is the result of it being longer or having a thicker tip, for example, and there comes some upper limit beyond which a ridiculously large pen might be good for a novelty or a world record, but useless as a writing implement.

Example sentence:

「う~ん、素敵なジャケットだけど、やっぱりもっと小さいのが良いかも。杓子は耳掻きにならずよ」

(“Uuun, suteki na jaketto da kedo, yappari motto chiisai no ga ii kamo. Shakushi wa mimikaki ni narazu yo.”)

[“Hmmm, it’s a lovely jacket, but I really think a smaller one would be better. Big things can’t always stand in for small things, you know.”]

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.
This entry was posted in Japanese, Kotowaza and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s