5

信用ほど、積み上げるのに苦労して、

So first, I have trouble understanding ほど here. I suppose that のに here means "in order to" so I would say it means "It's hard to build up trust".

失う時が一瞬なんて

You can lose it in an instant.

割の合わない投資はない

I have no idea what 割の合わない means. I usually have a hard time understanding 合う anyway.

The whole sentence :

信用ほど、積み上げるのに苦労して、失う時が一瞬なんて、割の合わない投資はない。

I'd like to know what ほど means here since it doesn't seem to be the one I usually see, and I'd like to understand the "logic" behind 割の合わない.

4

First of all, about 割の合わない - 割に合う is a set expression meaning "to be worth it". Literally I think it's derived from the use of 割 to refer to "profits", so it essentially means "to match up to the reward", but it's easiest to just think of it as a set phrase since it comes up far more often than this use of 割 in any other context.

As such, something that doesn't 割に合う, ie. a 割に合わないもの or 割の合わないもの, is something that "isn't worth it" - the reward isn't sufficient to be worth the effort expended.

Now for the ほど, this should be easier to understand if we remove all the fluff in the middle of the sentence. The basic sentence we're looking at here is 信用ほど割の合わない投資はない。 This is a case of the common usage of ほど which takes the basic form XほどYなものはない, meaning "there's nothing as Y as X" (eg. 自然ほど美しいものはない, "there's nothing as beautiful as nature").

In this case もの is replaced by the more specific 投資 meaning "investment", so instead of "there's nothing as Y as X" it's more specifically "there's no investment as Y as X". The X is straightforwardly 信用 "trust", and the Y is 割の合わない, making the whole thing mean literally "there's no investment as not-worth-it as trust". But that's not very natural English, so let's flip it around a bit and say "Trust is the most unwise investment of all."

As for the bits inserted in the middle of this sentence (積み上げるのに苦労して、失う時が一瞬なんて), they're just elaborating on why the author thinks trust is such an unwise investment - because "it takes hard effort to build up, but you can lose it in an instant". You can think of this whole phrase as loosely modifying 割の合わない投資. It's the same usage of なんて as in something like あんないい仕事を辞めるなんて、馬鹿なやつだ。 ("What an idiot, quitting such a good job.") The whole phrase preceding なんて is commenting on the negative context that justifies the following statement.

Honestly, I don't think this is a very grammatically satisfying sentence, because the なんて clause is completely disconnected grammatically from the ほど~ない expression that it's embedded in. It would look a lot neater to me if the なんて clause was moved to the beginning of the sentence to avoid breaking up the rest (ie. 積み上げるのに苦労して、失う時が一瞬なんて、信用ほど割の合わない投資はない。) But at any rate, that's how the sentence fits together.

  • 2
    When you re-expand the contracted なんて into など という, it'll be to some extent easier to grasp. – user4092 Oct 21 '17 at 1:30
  • 1
    @user4092 ああ確かにそうですね、「~したなんて噂がある」や「~するなんて話は聞いてないよ」と言えるので、普通の連体修飾句でもよさそうですね。辞書にも「"などという"の略」とありました。 – naruto Oct 21 '17 at 1:33
4

「信用{しんよう}ほど、積{つ}み上{あ}げるのに苦労{くろう}して、失{うしな}う時{とき}が一瞬{いっしゅん}なんて、割{わり}の合{あ}わない投資{とうし}はない。」

The core of the sentence is:

「信用ほど割の合わない投資はない。」

The entire middle part 「積み上げるのに苦労して、失う時が一瞬なんて」 just adds more information to the core. It would not change the basic meaning of the sentence one bit.

So, let us examine the core now. Notice that ほど is paired up with ない. The core says:

"There is no 投資 as 割の合わない as 信用."

= "There is no investment as not-worth-the-candle as trust."

In other words, it is saying that trust can be really rip-offy. But why, you wonder. That is where the middle part comes in telling us how it can be so rip-offy.

「積み上げるのに苦労して、失う時が一瞬なんて」

"(as/because) one struggles much to build up (trust) yet one can lose it in a flash"

I hope I don't have to combine the two parts into one English sentence. I shall leave it to you as it is your language, not mine.

-1

That's a tough one, and I'm certainly open to correction on this, but to me the ほど here is like "amounting to". And the 割の合わない投資 is an investment which doesn't fit the bill, which falls short of the mark somehow. In other words, actions or behavior which fall short of the mark will not amount to trust, because it takes time to build that trust, and it can be lost in an instant. It's like saying there's no half-measures when it comes to building trust.

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