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あたしと学校とりかえっこしてみない?

I already know it means "Why don't you try swapping school with me?", "Why don't you, and I, try swapping school?", but I wonder if it can also mean "Why don't you try swapping school for me?", like "Why don't you try staying with me instead of going to school?".

Would this be right?

あなたはあたしとあたしの学校とあなたの学校をとりかえっこしてみない?
You + with me + for my school + your school + don't try swapping?

If so, then the first sentence can have two meanings, can't it?


As you can see, you have to use と after あたし to show who does the action together with あなた and you have to use と after あたしの学校 to show the thing that will be swapped. The things being swapped are あたしの学校 and あなたの学校 (あなたの学校 is swapped for あたしの学校).

I was wondering if あたし in the top sentence can be, figuratively, the thing being swapped, instead of who あなた does the action with.

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  • 1
    Where did you learn that と can mean "for"? I've never heard of this meaning before.
    – Jimmy Yang
    Jun 21, 2022 at 3:23
  • I'm having trouble following your logic. In particular, "swapping schools for me" and "staying with me instead of going to school" are totally different things...
    – naruto
    Jun 21, 2022 at 4:02
  • @Jimmy Yang Nowhere. It's not the literal translation. I had to make the distinction between ととりかえっこする, "swap with" ("swap together with"), and ととりかえっこする, "swap for", in English. Jun 21, 2022 at 4:05
  • @Haragurodanshi But 'swap for' isn't even a normal construction in English
    – Angelos
    Jun 21, 2022 at 4:20
  • @Angelos Isn't something like "I swapped this football card for that football card with my friend" correct? Jun 21, 2022 at 4:25

2 Answers 2

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The original sentence suggests that "my school" and "your school" are swapped (for fun). The Japanese language doesn't have grammatical plural forms, but read it like "why not swap (our) schools". Now, you are asking if it's possible to read this sentence like "me" and "school" are the two things being swapped, right? Honestly, the latter interpretation never occurred to me. The original sentence is virtually unambiguous.

とりかえっこ is not plain "swap" or "trade". This っこ is a suffix that forms a casual game or a game-like activity involving two or more people (see: What does とびっことりっこ mean?). Do a google search on とりかえっこ, and you can instantly notice this word is typically used in children's books, where costumes and so on are temporarily exchanged between two characters for fun. So the original sentence strikes me as "Why don't you play school-swapping (game) with me?", and it's almost impossible to read it as if 私 herself is being swapped.

If the other meaning is clearly intended, you need to 1) stop using っこ, and 2) use と twice to clearly mark the two swap targets:

私と学校をとりかえてみない?
Why don't you swap me and school?

Now it's crystal clear that 私 and 学校 are the two things being swapped for whatever reason. Of course, we need some special context to make sense of this.

EDIT: Likewise, 弟とボールを投げっこした only means you and your brother played catch because 投げっこ always refers to an activity involving two or more people. 弟とボールを投げて遊んだ means something very weird; you enjoyed physically throwing your brother AND a ball. 弟とボールを投げて遊んだ is ambiguous, at least technically speaking.

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Short answer is yes, technically the sentence may be interpreted in two ways.

Imagine you are playing a multi player version of Sim City. You built a school, and your friend built a school as well. You suggest to swap the schools:

Why don't we swap each other's schools?

あたしと学校とりかえっこしてみない?

  • 「あたしの学校」と「あなたの学校」を、とりかえっこしてみない?

AFAIK, the following are correct:

  • swap school for school
  • swap school with school
  • swap school against school

Your friend is obsessed with the new school. She thinks about school all day long, and doesn't chat with you any more. You ask "what are you going to do tomorrow?". She replies "I will spend 23 hours with my school, and one hour with you. School is first priority, you are second". You propose to her:

Why don't you swap "me" with "school"?

あたしと学校とりかえっこしてみない?

In this case, the English phrase to me sounds natural, but the Japanese version is tricky. I understand you're trying to say:

  • 「あたしに対する優先度」と「学校に対する優先度」を、とりかえっこしてみない?
  • 「あたしと過ごす時間」と「学校と過ごす」を、とりかえっこしてみない?

Which in essence is similar to:

why don't you try staying with me instead of going to school?"

Anyway, you're not wrong. It technically works, but may be subjective. And "とりかえっこ" may not be the best choice of words here. I wouldn't use it in such a way, and I don't think it's safe to assume the listener will understand your intention, but that's just my humble opinion.

Note that "〜してみない?" may be used as the following example, sometimes genuinely and sometimes sarcastically:

For god's sake why don't you 〜 for just once?

  • たまには 〜してみない?
  • たまには 〜してみたら?

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