[文法] Grammar [なかなか~ない]

Today I finished Lesson 2 of An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. While i was working through the grammar section, i burst out laughing all of a sudden, when i read the English explanation, of the grammar point なかなか~ない. This is a great opportunity for me not only to teach you some grammar, but also to tell you why i found this particular grammar point so funny.

4 ●●● なかなか~ない = „not easily“
[日本語の宿題がたくさんあった、それに難しくて、なかなか終わらなくて。]

なかなか, when used with a negative, means that something is not easily done or that it takes time for something to happen.

a. 漢字がなかなか覚えられなくて、困っています。 [かんじがなかなかおぼえられなくて、こまっています。]
[It’s terrible because it takes a long time for me to memorize the kanji.]

b. コーヒーを飲んだので、なかなか眠れませんでした。 [コーヒーをのんだので、なかなかねむれませんでした。]
[I had coffee, and so I couldn’t fall asleep easily (i.e. I had a hard time falling asleep.)]

Now, when I’ve read the description, i had to think of an episode of the Cosby Show. This is one of my favorite sitcoms, even after having seen all episodes numerous times, over the past 20 years. In the episode I’m talking about, the summer holidays are over, and the Huxtable kids have to go back to school and college respectively. Something to celebrate for Heathcliff and Claire, because the house is so quiet during the time, when the kids are not at home. But one child refuses to go to school on that day, Rudy. She is 12, and she feels like a child, because her breast has not yet started growing as she expected them to do. So she ordered a wonder creme, that promised breast growth, within 24 hours. After Clair found out about this, she was able to talk Rudy into going to school, explaining to her why it takes time for her body to develop. She also told little Rudy, about her sisters, and what they did to let their breast to grow faster. Sandra, the oldest sister in the family, bought a cheap machine. It was from some obscure vendor, a really cheap machine, that she should tie around her breast area. It would give her a massage, and the breasts would grow in no time, so was the promise. But Claire was fast enough to stop her, fearing that this machine would cause an electrocution. Once Rudy was ready to go to school, and when she came back, she made the discovery, that none of her friends breasts had yet started developing. And, as the grammar point teaches us, some things take time to happen. A really hilarious episode, and i guess that from now on, i really must hold back not to burst out laughing when i find なかなか~ない in use by someone. The good thing is, that i will never forget, what this grammar point means.

I hope you will have as much fun reading this article, dear reader, as i had writing it.

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