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Thursday, October 2, 2008

表現Break: 蚤の金玉


This is a funny little phrase I picked up in Kagawa-ken when I was on my hitch-hiking trip, and it must've been a personal favorite of the man I heard it from, because he used it more than ten times.

蚤の金玉
のみ の きんたま
nomi no kintama

蚤 is a flea and 金玉... well, 金玉 are the family jewels. It's not an エッチ enough word that it would make the cut for The Nightly Yoji; It gets used a lot, even in mixed company. I attribute it to the Japanese cultural tendency to not think twice about discussing bodily functions, bowel movements, and private parts more casually than some other cultures might.

蚤の金玉 are just what you think they are: a flea's balls.

I found a definition online that says this: 取るに足らな いごく小さなものの喩え: a simile used to describe something that's too small to pick up... but that's using a very narrow definition of 取る. It can also mean to earn, to steal, to take, to eat, or to harvest. 蚤の金玉 can be defined simply as something insignificant, something below the radar.

The guy I learned it from liked to use it to talk about people who were nitpickers, cheap, or anal retentive. 「蚤の金玉より小さい事を気にする野郎。」 I've been able to use it successfully in situations where people have tried to pay me back the 50, 20, 0r even 10円 they borrowed from me.

My favorite thing about learning this one, however, was the wealth of expressions I discovered that mean almost the same thing. Some of these are hilarious:

1. (カエル)のションベン: frog piss.
2. (アリ)のオチンチンan ant's wang.
3. 烏賊(イカ)の金玉: squid nuts.
4. 隠した鷹の爪(タカのつめ): the falcon's hidden toenail
5. 雀の涙(すずめのなみだ): a sparrow's tear (used like we would say "just a drop in the bucket")
6. (セミ)のションベン: cicada piss.
7. イタチの最後屁(さいごへ): a weasel's fart (this one had a footnote: "something that can be sensed by smell, but not seen")

Note: Apparently, in some regions of America (koffkoff those where my dad grew up koff), there's an expression that works the same way. It's "Picking fly shit out of pepper."

Any other equivalent phrases out there?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

By "some other cultures" you of course mean the overly prudish american culture.

AzzidisRidden said...

Yeah, American attitudes towards sex are still overly rooted in shame/guilt, if you ask me, but I don't know that we have a monopoly on it... I wouldn't call the Brit's a sexually liberated society, after all.

What we do have a monopoly on, however, is Amish smut.

So suck on that.

Jerry said...

Funny. Yea we americans are in denial about sex. Ask people if they watch porn and based on the answers you would think the industry was like flea balls. But it's not, and yes I do.