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I encountered the following sentence in a comic book which I could not make sense of.

The comic strip depicts a character using a simple bird trap and saying: 「長年やってるけどかかったためしないなあ」 The first part, 長年やってるけど, can be roughly translated as "I've been doing this for quite a while", and this is quite clear.

The second part, かかったためしない, is not clear.

My guess is that it means something like "Catching is not the reason I'm doing this." The dictionary shows that かかる can be translated as "to catch (prey)" and I know that ため can be an "intention" and する is "do". However, I feel I may be wrong here, especially since it's all written in hiragana.

Some help would be appreciated.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

You are parsing the sentence incorrectly. It should be

長年やってるけど かかった ためし (は) ない なぁ

It then roughly means,

I have been doing this for quite some years, but it's not like I have ever caught anything.

ためし (written 試し) can mean "trial/test", but here it is used in the sense of "experience" (written 例 or 様; see Tsuyoshi Ito's comment below and the entry in Daijisen), as is often the case in the phrase ためし(は)ない, e.g.

You look like you have never had the experience of (or a taste of) what it is like to have cleaned a room.

The person from your sentence has been trying to catch birds for many years, but has never had the experience of having caught something.

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Thank you. It is strange that no dictionaries I've checked show "experience" as one of the meanings of 試し, but it seems correct. Also, an online expression dictionary (home.alc.co.jp/db/owa/…) translates 試し(が)ない exactly as "I have never seen". – vovick Oct 7 '12 at 10:48
(... which bears the same meaning as "I have never experienced") – vovick Oct 7 '12 at 10:57
I do not think that 試し is the correct kanji for ためし with this meaning. Daijisen and Daijirin both list 例 and 様 as the kanji notations of it, although I would rather write it in hiragana. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '12 at 12:31
@TsuyoshiIto I see, thank you. Corrected in the main text. – Earthliŋ Oct 7 '12 at 12:45
Oops, I should have been more careful in writing the previous comment. ためし which means “trial, test” is written as 試し. ためし which means “experience” is written as 例 and 様, and often in hiragana. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '12 at 12:55

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