724 - あげく

JLPT N2: あげく(に)《after... [finally...]

Salutations, fellow student!

Itching for another N2 grammar lesson?

No?

Well let's study one anyway...

First, a sentence:


龍之介はさんざん借金をしたあげく、とうとう自己破産した。
りゅうのすけ は さんざん しゃっきん を した あげく、 とうとう じこはさん した。
After going really far into debt, Ryūnosuke finally declared bankruptcy.
Literally: “Ryūnosuke + は + thoroughly / utterly + debt / borrowing money + を + did + あげく, + finally + (deciding to declare) bankruptcy + did.”


*You nod your head in understanding.*

Yeah, I suppose it's fairly straightforward: We use あげく when stating that X happened after a lot of (undesirable) stuff was done.

In the sentence above, "a lot of (undesirable) stuff" (for Ryūnosuke) was:


さんざん借金をした
さんざん しゃっきん を した
went really far into debt
Literally: “thoroughly / utterly + debt / borrowing money + を + did"


Then, after all of that (あげく) he:


とうとう自己破産した
とうとう じこはさん した
finally declared bankruptcy
Literally: “finally + personal bankruptcy + did”


Altogether that gives us:


龍之介はさんざん借金をしたあげく、とうとう自己破産した。
りゅうのすけ は さんざん しゃっきん を した あげく、 とうとう じこはさん した。
After going really far into debt, Ryūnosuke finally declared bankruptcy.
Literally: “Ryūnosuke + は + thoroughly / utterly + debt / borrowing money + を + did + あげく, + finally + (deciding to declare) bankruptcy + did.”


Dictionaries seem to enjoy defining あげく as "in the end (after a long process)," "finally," "after all," etc.

I think those definitions are a bit off, though, because the sentence containing あげく often contains words that mean those things, like とうとう (finally) or 結局 (けっきょく // after all; in the end).

Instead, we should go with the dictionary entry 揚句 (あげく // last line [of a renga]), the characters literally meaning "deep-fried" (揚) "phrase" (句).

Oh, wait. That's not right either. Also, what's a "renga?" (Found it on Wikipedia!)

(In the unlikely event that you do see あげく written in kanji, it'll probably be 挙げ句.)

How about this, instead: Don't try to put a definition to あげく! Just use it in sentences saying "After a lot of (undesirable) stuff, X happened." (In our example sentences, I think it corresponds most closely to the English word "after.")



V たあげく
NOUNあげく


We already saw that first pattern:


龍之介はさんざん借金をしたあげく、とうとう自己破産した。
りゅうのすけ は さんざん しゃっきん を した あげく、 とうとう じこはさん した。
After going really far into debt, Ryūnosuke finally declared bankruptcy.
Literally: “Ryūnosuke + は + thoroughly / utterly + debt / borrowing money + を + did + あげく, + finally + (deciding to declare) bankruptcy + did.”


Here's the second pattern:


私たちは8年間にわたる別居あげく、とうとう離婚することになった。
わたし たち は はち ねん かん に わたる べっきょ の あげく、 とうとう りこん する こと に なった。
After living apart for eight years, we're finally getting divorced.
Literally: “we + は + eight year period + に + cross / span + living apart + の + あげく, + finally + divorce + do + こと + に + became.”


Note that our translations don't necessarily need to include the word "after" in them:


どの参考書を買うべきかさんざん悩んだあげく、結局何も買わずに帰った。
どの さんこうしょ を かう べき か さんざん なやんだ あげく、 けっきょく なにも かわず に かえった。
I was so lost as to which study book I should buy that in the end I went home without even getting one.
Literally: “which + study book / reference book + を + buy + should + か + thoroughly / utterly + was troubled / worried + あげく, + in the end / after all + nothing + without buying (=don't buy [and] + に) + went home.”


This is our second sentence containing the phrase さんざん, yeah? The meaning of this word can vary quite a bit depending on how and where it's used. In the following dictionary entry, the meanings for #2 are closest to how we're seeing it in this lesson:

散々(さんざん
1) severely; harshly; terribly; miserably; wretchedly; badly
2) thoroughly; completely; utterly
3) scattered; disconnected; dispersed; smashed into tiny pieces

The best way to understand this word (or any word, really) is to just look it up in a Japanese-only dictionary, which will tell you that it means "being severe to an unpleasant degree; terribly."


It is possible that you'll come across the idiomatic expression あげくの果てに(あげくのはてに) instead of just あげく


寒空の下3時間も待ったあげくの果てに、デートをキャンセルされた。
さむぞら の した さん じかん も まった あげくのはて に、 デート を キャンセル された。
After I’d waited out in the cold for three whole hours, my date ended up canceling on me.
Literally: “cold sky + の + under + three hours period + も + waited + あげくの果てに, + date + を + cancellation + was done.”


In all of our examples, you'll see that "a lot of (unpleasant) stuff" can cover a wide variety of things: going really far into debt; living apart for eight years; waiting for three whole hours; etc.

あげく is a picky lover, so it'll only pair up with stuff like this. あげく will be very unhappy if you try to pair it up with one-time and/or insignificant things like "I ate too much":

✕ 食べ過ぎたあげくに、お腹を壊した。
✕ たべすぎた あげく に、 おなか を こわした。
After eating too much, I got an upset stomach.
Literally: “ate too much + あげくに, + stomach + を + broke.”



The end!

Did you read all of the word-by-word breakdowns?

Can you recite one of the examples with your eyes closed?

Did you just scroll straight to the bottom of this lesson without reading anything?

Whatever the case, I congratulate you, dear friend.

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