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私は彼が自慢だ。

I'm Proud of Him

彼は私が自慢だ。

He is proud of me.

I am confused by this pattern with 自慢. It kind of looks like 自慢 is being used as an adjective (?), but the definition in Tangorin lists it as:

noun / noun or participle with aux. verb する → conjugation / noun with genitive case particle の

Perhaps 私は彼が自慢だ can be more literally translated as "He is my pride."?

So if I dissect it--

私は I (topic marker) 彼が he (subject/object marker) 自慢だ pride is. (?)

Along this line of reasoning, does 私は自慢だ。mean "I am proud." ? I guess I am getting confused because I see the first sentence listed and then think of a pattern like this: 私は彼がきれいだと思います。-- "I think that he is pretty." (Where the が connects 彼 to きれい)

Would anyone be kind enough to explain this pattern with 自慢 and maybe show a few more examples like it?

For instance, these examples make more sense to me, though perhaps the English expressions do not seem to correlate as easily:

美人の妻が彼の自慢だ。 His beautiful wife is his pride.

彼女は水泳が自慢だ。 She prides herself on her swimming. (I translate it more literally as "swimming is {the source of} her pride)

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1 Answer

To say "I am proud of my sister," my personal preference is

(私は)姉を誇りに思う。

instead of using 自慢. The word 自慢 can have the same connotation as "bragging," and as such I feel it deflects the attention away from what you are trying to commend. 自慢する sounds as if you are only self satisfied (something that can be a target of scorn).

For "his beautiful wife is his pride," I might rephrase as

(彼女は)彼自慢の美人妻だ。

I guess the sentence is structurally different, but it's another way of saying the same thing.

For the swimming example,

彼女は水泳(をする能力)に自信を持っている。

I feel the use of 自信をもつ implies a meaning closer to what "being proud of" conveys in this case.

All the examples in the OP do make sense, and I don't think there is anything particularly wrong, but 自慢だ is probably one of those words for which a better wording can be found, given that "being proud of" is not always synonymous in connotation as 自慢.

I suppose I didn't directly address the OP's question, to list more examples of the usage of 自慢... well I think the reason why some of the OP's examples might sound confusing is that they aren't particularly descriptive by themselves. For example

彼女は息子が自慢だ。

is a bit awkward in the same the OP's first examples are a bit confusing, but when you are more explicit like

彼女は息子が東大卒であることが自慢だ。

it sounds much better to me.

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thank you for the info. I asked the question because I read in a Japanese friend's online journal an entry talking about his son that used the first quote. I guess your implication is that it is not so natural a usage? I think the writer is late 50s in age, for reference. –  yadokari Oct 24 '12 at 22:16
    
@yadokari No, I didn't mean that it's wrong or overly awkward. I guess I just tried to mention that 自慢 has a connotation that may be slightly different from "being proud of." I know that your first examples are quite often used, but I felt it can be confusing because of the way sentence is structured. For example 私は彼が自慢だ can be rephrased as 私の自慢は、彼だ and suddenly it is not so confusing (though I would argue the latter is structurally cleaner yet it doesn't sound so common). –  Taro Sato Oct 24 '12 at 22:28
    
@ Taro Sato where is the possessive の (or equivalent) in 私は彼が自慢だ . ? (if it needs one). I am still confused about the structure. –  yadokari Oct 24 '12 at 23:00
    
@yadokari Oh, I see. I think I'm starting to see where your confusion really comes from. If I were to use の, then I would use 彼は私の自慢だ, in the same way that you might say キティーちゃんは、私のお気に入りだ. Does that make things clearer? –  Taro Sato Oct 24 '12 at 23:17
    
But that structure I used in my previous comment is essentially what you came up in the 美人妻 example. So you had it right there. –  Taro Sato Oct 24 '12 at 23:22
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