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Does it mean "Hino-san's idiot" (indicating possession) or "Hino-san is an idiot"?

If it's the latter, why shouldn't it be "Hino-san baka"?

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3 Answers 3

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Possession is just one of the many meanings of の, and does not apply in this case.「ひのさんのバカ」 here means ひのさんバカ, i.e. "Hino is an idiot" (as you suspected).

See: How does the の work in 「日本人の知らない日本語」?

While this substitution mostly applies to relative clauses or double-subject constructions (unless there is a direct object marked with を), the subject particle が can be replaced with の in many cases.

Refer also to the Jisho definition for

1. indicates possessive​ (...)

2. nominalizes verbs and adjectives​ (...)

3. substitutes for "ga" in subordinate phrases​. (See also が): 100人近くの人がいたが、ほとんど会ったことのない人たちだった。There were almost 100 people, few of whom I had seen before. (...)

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    I agree with this as I think this is the best interpretation in general. There is also another possible way of looking at things, though: This could also be read as "the idiot who is Hino-san" (Japanese does often have these slight ambiguities in interpretation (which are sometimes deliberately used to add subtle nuances or double-meanings in things like titles, etc, though in this case the ultimate meaning isn't that different, I think))
    – Foogod
    Nov 6, 2022 at 17:40
  • Jisho.org ( jisho.org/search/%E3%81%AE ) って、「同格の『の』」が載ってない! 「羊のショーン」(Shaun the Sheep)「おさるのジョージ」「イワンの馬鹿」とかの「の」。
    – chocolate
    Nov 7, 2022 at 13:34
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The の is appositive (同格). The Wiktionary entry for の may help:


助詞
格助詞
5. 上の語と下の語が同格であることを表す。

  • 部長の山田さん。
  • 妹の薫さんが来てたよ。 (...)
    1. 悪態をつくときに用いられる表現
      • お兄ちゃんバカ。
      • 部長わからず屋が。

The appositive の has been explained multiple times in this site:

Common/familiar examples:

『羊ショーン』 Shaun the Sheep
『おさるジョージ』
『セロ弾きゴーシュ』 Gauche the Cellist
「妹メイです。」
「魔女キキです。こっちは黒猫ジジ。」

The Wiktionary page says one of the usages of the appositive の is 悪態をつくときに用いられる.

This has also been asked in this site:

Common examples:

「メイばか!もう知らない!」「お姉ちゃんバカー!」
「ばあばケチ。もうやめなよ。」
「クララ弱虫!」
「ペーター意地悪。」
「おばさん嘘つき!」

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    そういえば「馬鹿の太郎がまたミスった」「太郎の馬鹿がまたミスった」は両方言えますね。「太郎の天才が」とは言えないし「太郎の後輩が」だと意味が変わるので、罵る時だけ同格用法の語順が変わりうるんですかね…
    – naruto
    Nov 8, 2022 at 1:10
  • ああー、ホントだ!なるへそですねー!! (Community wiki にしたので、よかったら加筆してください。最近、落ち着いてSEに向かえてなくて・・)
    – chocolate
    Nov 8, 2022 at 1:17
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    うーんでも「のび太さんのエッチ!」は単純な同格では説明つかない気もしてきました(名詞用法の「エッチ」は人そのものを表さないはず)…。「主格の格助詞的なもの」と考えても「同格」と考えても完全には説明しづらいですね…
    – naruto
    Nov 8, 2022 at 2:43
  • あ~確かに形容動詞っぽいですね。「スケベ」なら名詞だったけど。「人+の+名詞or形容動詞」の形で、形容詞は入らないんですね、何でしょうねこれ。。
    – chocolate
    Nov 8, 2022 at 15:53
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There are various opinions, but my conclusion is "this construction is hard to explain perfectly based on simpler grammar rules". I can say the following sentences are all valid:

  1. 太郎のバカ!
  2. 太郎のエッチ!
  3. 太郎のバカがまた失敗した。That idiot Taro failed again.

の in Sentence 3 is clearly not a substitution of the subject marker が/は; the subject of this sentence is undoubtedly 太郎のバカ as a whole. However, の in Sentence 2 doesn't seem to be an apposition marker to me. Unlike バカ ("idiot") which is a noun that can represent a person, エッチ is a na-adjective and cannot represent a person. We can say バカが3人いる but not エッチが3人いる.

Therefore, I think it's best to regard this as a special construction that can be used only in the context of abusing someone, like English "You idiot!". "太郎の天才!" is understandable but sounds like a joke to me.

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