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Left Behind: Part 5

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As I mentioned last week, the etymology of (ZAN, noko(ru), noko(su)) contains the idea that it’s cruel to hack someone up until nothing remains. But perhaps that’s a glass-half-empty perspective. The glass-half-full view would be, “Hey, look! Something remains! In fact, what we have here are human remains!”

The kanji figures into many words about things left behind. For instance, take the following expression:

食い残す (kuinokosu: to leave food half-eaten)
     to eat + to leave behind

This verb has a noun form:

食い残し (kuinokoshi: leftover food)     to eat + to leave behind

Just two weeks ago, we saw another word for leftovers:

残り物 (nokorimono: remnant, scraps, leftovers)
     remainder + thing

If you change the first hiragana in 食い残し, you alter the yomi considerably but retain the meaning:

食べ残し (tabenokoshi: leftover food)     to eat + to leave behind

When you see food left on someone’s plate, you don’t know the reason. Maybe he took more than he could eat. Maybe he was whisked away mid-meal. When we see the -残す or -残し suffixes, we don’t know the intention. For that reason, words with these endings tend to be ambiguous. The meaning changes with the context.

Take, for instance, the multiple meanings of this word:

書き残す (kakinokosu: to leave a note or document behind; leave half-written; leave out)     to write + to leave behind

Meaning 1: to leave a note or document behind (on purpose)

Kobayashi wa gaishutsu mae ni memo o kakinokoshita.
Kobayashi left a note before he went out.

Meaning 2: to leave half-written (unwillingly)


Yamashita no shōsetsu wa byōki de tonza shita ga, ima kakinokoshita bun ni torikunde iru.
Yamashita’s novel writing came to a standstill because she got sick, but now she’s tackling the remaining, unwritten part.

Breakdown of These Sentences …

More Suffixes of Neglect …

The following words have a similar ambiguity:

言い残す (iinokosu: to leave word with (a person); state in one’s will; leave (something) unsaid; forget to mention)
     to say + to leave behind

Iinokoshita koto wa mō hotondo nai.
Little remains to be said.

見残す (minokosu: to leave unseen or unread)
     to see + to leave behind
取り残す (torinokosu: to leave behind)
     to take + to leave behind

It’s more common to write this word as とり残す.

Ni-sannin no seito ga torinokosareta.
A few students were left behind.

In either language this sentence could have two meanings: the students couldn’t advance to the next grade, or they missed the bus during the field trip. The passive form (取り残される) used in the sentence is more common than 取り残す.

(-nin: counter for people)
生徒 (seito: student)
     student + student

All these verbs have noun forms, and they again point to the inherent ambiguity:

言い残し (iinokoshi: something not said; not saying something; something said before a person leaves)     to say + to leave behind

If your girlfriend says she’s mad at you for an 言い残し, you have quite a mess to untangle. Is she mad because of something you said before you left? Was it something you never said? Is she angry because you never say any of the things you’re supposed to say? Good luck sorting out that issue!

見残し (minokoshi: something not seen; not seeing something)
     to see + to leave behind
取り残し (torinokoshi: something left behind; leaving behind)
     to take + to leave behind

Some more noun forms for you:

使い残し (tsukainokoshi: remnant, remainder, odds and ends)
     to use + to leave behind
やり残し (yarinokoshi: things left undone)
     to do + to leave behind

This is the modern form of 為残こし (shinokoshi: things left undone, to do + to leave behind), which no one uses anymore.


Yarinokoshi ga moshi aru nara, yatte shimainasai.
Do what you have left undone, if there’s anything.

Time for your Verbal Logic Quiz, where you get to guess at the ambiguity in two final -残し words.

Verbal Logic Quiz …

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