I've never said it nor have I ever heard it, but I understand it quite well, and I would use it to teach comparatives. There's a blog you should see. Click Japanese translation and explanation and scroll down to <Answer 1>.
"A whale is no more a fish than a horse is."
This sentence is quite popular among Japanese students(aged 16 to 18) who learn the "no more...than..." structure in English. They call it "くじら構文," which means "whale structure." in Japanese. (There's no such grammatical term for it in Japanese, by the way. It has been passed down from generation to generation, I suppose.)
It is, apparently, an explanation of a marine life, that is "a whale." And I think it is more emphatic than just saying "A whale is not a fish." (as far as my interpretation of it is correct.)
Have you ever actually said this ("A whale is no more a fish than a horse is.") in your whole life? Do you think it is a good example sentence to use when teaching English?
What I'd like to know by starting this thread is...
whether it's worth giving them as as example sentence,
whether it sounds natural enough to native speakers of English.
Thank you in advance.
The point about ' the whale structure' is that it's a double comparison:But, learners need to master sentences like these below before the sentence above:
Her hands were as cold as ice....
closeness of relations between [a whale and a fish]/[a whale and a horse]
- in other words "A whale is not like a fish, and the size of this difference is equal to or greater than the size of the difference between a whale and a horse". In fact, it would be scientifically accurate to put it more strongly than that (as a whale and a horse are both mammals), but the words "no more than..." simply don't.
So, as they say on children's TV shows, don't try this at home! (But it sounds OK to me - so I wouldn't say 'don't teach it'; I'd just advise that you make sure that the people you're teaching it to can handle it.) And as it's called 'the whale structure' in Japanese, that example has a certain mnemonic value in Japan.
Last edited by BobK; 16-May-2008 at 15:11. Reason: Clarify
There's no focus at all. The comparison is between degrees of difference of all kinds....but the words "no more than..." simply don't.
So, this sentence has no implication of "whale being a mammal", you mean?
The fucus is on the size?