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Subject: Re: 〜に越したことはない
From: Glenn
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 03:33:54 GMT
References: 1

> From goo.ne.jp, "Xにこしたことはない” seems to mean "there's nothing better than X" :
> こす 【越す/超す】: (5)(「…にこす」の形で)…よりも優れる。…よりもよい。
> 「給料は高いに―・したことはない」 (Nothing beats a good salary) [My translation]
> Seems simple enough, but with the following sentence I read in an article, I somehow feel uncertain about the expression 「〜にこす」 along with 「それより」:
> 英語ができるにこしたことはありませんが、それより大切なことは相手に対する気持ちだと思います。 (http://www.japanese-nihongo.com/experiences/74kotani2.html)
> With 「それより」 right after 「〜にこしたことはない」, the author seems to be saying there IS something better than X (英語ができる). Is this contradictory, or am I just overthinking it?

I have the same feeling as you about this. The possibilities I see are 1) the dictionary didn't do a very good job defining the phrase (I find this unlikely), 2) the dictinoary is slightly out of date in its definition (possible), 3) the person who wrote that sentence was sloppy, perhaps not proofreading what they had written (likely), and 4) the person who wrote that sentence doesn't understand what に越したことはない means (possible).

It's certainly frustrating learning a foreign language when you've got native speakers disagreeing with each other over what a word or phrase means or how it's used, but such is the way of things. I've had similar encounters, most memorably with a use of 〜来 that I think isn't quite right (or at least isn't consistent with the definition in 大辞林).

> My translation (Revisions/commentary appreciated):
> 英語ができるにこしたことはありませんが、それより大切なことは相手に対する気持ちだと思います。
> (There's nothing like being able to speak English proficiently, but I believe it's even more important to understand the other person's feelings.)

The translation of the に越したことはない phrase is good, but 相手に対する気持ち is "feelings towards (your) counterpart." It's a comment on your feelings, not the other person's.

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