I came across 相手 in this paragraph:

「どうしていいか分からないな!」と、スクルージは笑いながら、同時にまた泣きながら喚いた。そして、靴下を相手にラオコーンそっくりの様子をして見せたものだ。「俺は羽毛のように軽い、天使のように楽しく、学童のように愉快だよ。俺はまた酔漢のように眼が廻る。皆さん聖降誕祭お目出度う! 世界中の皆さんよ、新年お目出度う! いよう、ここだ! ほーう! ようよう!」

How is it working inside the sentence?

In the sentence 「そして、靴下を相手にラオコーンそっくりの様子をして見せたものだ。」I think it is saying something like 「He showed the appearance of Laocoon by making his socks his partner」

Is my translation ok? Would it be ok if one omitted 相手?

1 Answer 1


It appears you looked up the meaning of 相手 and found that it can mean partner. It has that meaning sometimes, but in this case it is better to think of it as meaning the person (or thing) that you are interacting with. So in the example sentence when it says 靴下を相手に, Scrooge is interacting/dealing with his socks. With that in mind you could make the following literal translation:

He showed the appearance of a Laocoon in dealing with his socks.

Having said that, are you aware that you are reading a Japanese translation of a book that was originally written in English? The original English excerpt is the following:

“I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings.

As you can see in the original, it only uses "with his stockings", but I believe the Japanese uses を相手に to emphasize there was more of a concerted effort (struggle) involved. Also, keep in mind this book is from 1843, so its is a Japanese translation of English from the 19th century...

  • 靴下を相手にラオコーンそっくりの様子をして見せる roughly means "to pretend to be Laocoön in front of socks", but is that what the original text says? I cannot imagine what this person is actually trying to do...
    – naruto
    Nov 24, 2020 at 9:23
  • @naruto: This picture might help. Imagine a person standing on one leg struggling to put their sock on.
    – Jesse Good
    Nov 24, 2020 at 21:47

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