銭天堂 | Week 5 Discussion

Week 5 Discussion | Pages 43 - 52

Chapter 2: 猛獣ビスケット

Start Date: 1st June
Last Week: Chapter 2 Part 1
Next Week: Chapter 3 Part 1


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We’re reading to the end of Chapter 2 this week.

Part of the Beginner Book Club!

Vocabulary List

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All done with this week’s! It was a nice chapter, though I think 信也 got off pretty easy.

The only sentence I really couldn’t figure out was 信也はぞうっとした。from page 51. I can’t make any sense of it; even putting it in https://ichi.moe/ didn’t help at all.

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This is just a guess, since I have no context, but isn’t it ぞっと? “Shin’ya shivered.”

(And isn’t this book full of weird mimetic words? I get the impression this comes up repeatedly. :upside_down_face: )


That looks right. I tried doing a handful of searches, like ぞうぞう, ぞうと, etc., but didn’t think to try just ぞっと. Even tried searching Google for ぞうっとした since sometimes I can piece together the meaning from the Japanese results, but no luck this time.


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Is that a literary thing in japanese that authors can write how the hell they want and the reader is supposed to figure it out? Does that somehow impart a nuance to the meaning or something?


The same thing happens in English (and I assume other languages.) Making up new sound effects, combining words, stretching out sounds, making puns, etc. for effect. You just don’t notice much in your native language because you have most of the same context as the author, so things are just obvious to you, or the context of the writing makes it natural and easy to figure out, or you just skip over it to no ill effect (especially when you’re younger; at least that was the case for me.)

A lot more frustrating when trying to deal with the same things in a language where you don’t know nearly as much.


It’s a pretty interesting topic, actually! But long story short, yes there’s a difference, though I can’t say with certainty how regular the rules are. I believe that Hamano has observed that generally, and quite intuitively, long vowels indicated… a prolonged phenomenon being mimicked. So, following that, ぞっと likely describes your trembling frenetically, whereas ぞうっと pictures a shiver going down your spine slowly as the realisation dawns on you. That’s how I would analyse it, in any case.

If you want to know more, you could read Hamano’s thesis (1986) The sound-symbolic system of Japanese, which presents a very detailed study of the formation of mimetic words and proposes, in particular, a system to interpret what each consonant and vowel usually means, depending on their position in the word. (For example, n- as the first consonant of a 2-mora (duplicated or not) mimetic word would be for something sticky or viscous, etc.)


Ah fair enough. Still frustrating no end trying to look up words that don’t exist :slight_smile:

Meow, I haven’t quite managed to decipher the following:

At 32%

Emi says “指輪の主の名にかけて” . I can’t quite figure out which of the 30+ possible meanings of かける this one is =._.=

That is followed by “アメなる石におねがいせん” I am very confused by アメなる and the せん at the end…

Any help is appreciated!


I read it as follows. (Out of context, the meaning is very unclear even though the grammar seems about right to me…)

Emi says “指輪の主の名にかけて” . I can’t quite figure out which of the 30+ possible meanings of かける this one is =._.=

Not sure which definition it is in your dictionary, but it means “in the name of ~”. It’s derived from the base meaning “to hang”, I think, “to hang onto the name of ~” maybe? So, something like “in the name of the master of the ring(s) …”

That is followed by “アメなる石におねがいせん” I am very confused by アメなる and the せん at the end…

It’s literary grammar. Naru = ni aru, which is either:

  • the classic copula “be” (which gave ni aru > nite aru > de aru the modern version), as in X ni aru Y = “Y which is X”;
  • or the existential verb “be” with the locative ni, as in X ni aru Y = “Y which is AT X”.

I’m not sure what ame refers to, in the context. I think this is a book about sweets, so maybe “sweet”. It could be (a pun on?) 天 (the heavens) but that would give “the stone that is in the sky”, which is just plain weird. Occasionally you can find 天なるX for “our X above” as in 天なる神. I’m bad at puns, anyway, but it’s a possibility…

Sen = se-mu, which is su (modern suru) + mu (modern u), so semu = shiyô, here probably with meaning “I will (do)” or “I want to (do)”, or maybe just for emphasis. So, literally “in the name of the master of the ring(s), I humbly will/want/wish to implore/pray to the stone that is ([located] in) the ‘ame’”, where ame is any of the definitions of ame.


Ahhhh, I feel your pain, dude. Onomatopoeaic words can be really frustrating to figure out. At one point a while back, I felt like giving up studying Japanese because of this. And like you said, it felt like writer’s were just making stuff up out of nowhere.

But there actually is a logic to these words and understanding how they are constructed in the first place really helped me sorta break the code and take the mystery out of them. I’m not an expert by any means on figuring out these types of words but I think over this past year I’ve been feeling much better about how to decipher them due to a book recommended to me by @LucasDesu. It’s called “Jazz Up Your Japanese with Onomatopoeia” by Hiroko Fukuda. This book, in a very short and concise way, helped me understand how they are constructed, applied, and defined. Most importantly, It helped me to go from the “known”(words in the dictionary) to the “unknown”(words not in the dictionary). It takes a lot of practice but after some period I think you’ll get the hang of it.

Onomatopoeaic words are such a critical part of the Japanese language so I think any amount of time you could invest in studying stuff about them would be worthwhile in the long run.

@Carvs I haven’t read Hamano’s thesis which looks very, very extensive, but hey, it’s FREE!


First of all, thanks for the help! It is quite clearer now.

From context and just plain feline intuition I suspected it meant “in the name of” but none of the definitions in jisho seems to point clearly in that direction. It doesn’t help that かける can be written 掛ける, 欠ける, 駆ける, 賭ける, or 翔る (or, for the heck of it, 書ける as in “can write”). Closest meanings I see are “to put on”, “to bind”. Maybe because english isn’t my native language, but “hang onto the name” sounds more to me like you are about to lose your name and are trying not to; not really like something “attached”.

Sorry, you lost me there. What’s a “modern u” and how does it differ from the “older mu” ? And why would suru + u become “shiyou” ?

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I got lost somewhere in the explanations I’m afraid. It’s all very interesting and in depth and way over my head.

I wonder what a japanese reader of the target audience age knows about all this… is it all that theory behind it, or is it more a “ah, that’s some oldfashioned way to say something like ある”…

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By “u” I think he means the conjugation that creates verbs that end with -う aka the volitional. That conjugation used to create verbs that end with -む instead (at least, that’s what I’m picking up from what he said.)


I feel the same way. I mean, I think I got the gist of it, though I still have a lot of other questions, but I don’t really want to derail the thread getting into details of how older japanese worked.

I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment… I was also wondering in what way a japanese grade schooler interprets/understands this kind of stuff.

From the few children books I’ve attempted to read, there does seem to be quite a bit of older / formal / literary words that are commonly used in them, so I am guessing they get used to that kind of writing relatively fast.

Maybe their parents explain them this kind of stuff when they start reading them stories before going to bed or something…

Oh… somehow in my mind ou was the conjugation for volitional, but thinking about it I guess you could say it is the verb with an -o ending + u

From what I can tell, this book is intended for upper elementary schoolers to middle schoolers. At that age (fifth grade in the US), I was reading the Hobbit, which no doubt used some old and/or odd vocabulary (though I haven’t reread it for quite a few years, so I can’t say that with 100% certainty, it seems very likely to be true.)

And think about things in English like “doth” or “thou”, etc. Native English speakers can understand that sort of stuff perfectly fine, even though that hasn’t been a normal part of the language for a long time, and is only used to indicate someone or something is old.


You’re welcome.

No, you’re right that you wouldn’t say that in English, and it isn’t my native language either. :stuck_out_tongue: I was just trying to make an analogy of sorts… you can forget about that. It’s definition ❿ here: 「かける」の意味や使い方 わかりやすく解説 Weblio辞書

@jaearess is right. U is the volitional suffix; it’s the u that attaches to make -(o)u at the end of verbs. I guess people just don’t call it that way much (there’s an entry in the Daijisen, though); I should probably write -(o)u to make it clearer next time. And yes, it is believed to come from an old auxiliary -(a)mu > -(a)u > -(o)u. Suru is irregular, but if you take a regular verb, it’s easier to see: kaku > kakamu > kakau = kakô.

The "oo" sound

The -o you hear at the end of volitional forms is actually the -a base (same as the negative base used for -(a)nai), except au is read oo in modern Japanese, and the orthography has been updated to reflect that.

It’s the same thing that happens with honorific adjectives like o-hayoo gozaimasu; it’s actually from *o-haya(k)u gozaimasu", where the k was suppressed (a Western/Kansai feature) leaving o-hayau, pronounced ohayô. It’s also why the Kansai past of kau (buy), kauta is actually read kôta. Anyway, it’s a general rule of modern Japanese phonetics.

Ah, feel free to ask more questions, or maybe do so in another thread, if you want; though I’m far from an expert on classical Japanese. Luckily, modern classicisms are usually fairly easy compared to actual old texts, so I should manage. :stuck_out_tongue:

P.S.: Regarding how native children perceive it:

I have no idea, but I can tell you that nari (the dictionary form of naru) and mu are certainly two of the most common classicisms you’ll find in modern prose IMHO.


Zenitendo buddies, I can see there are not many of us putting words into the vocab sheet. I am just wondering if it is still useful? (Should I keep putting vocab into it?)

  • Yes! I use the vocab sheet
  • Thanks but I don’t use the vocab sheet
  • Wait, there’s a vocab sheet?

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I add words when I have the chance (admittedly, not very often), and I appreciate it when there are words already there, but if adding words is not beneficial for you, please don’t feel like you have to do it just for my sake.