魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 4

Aw, that’s a shame. :frowning:

PS @Kyasurin’s chapter summary is available in the OP now ^^

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I went and asked a Japanese friend about these onomatopoeic words in the context they appeared in the book, and he confirmed a lot of these guesses.

ぐちゃんぐちゃん in the way it is used in the book means haphazardly sloppy or sloppy in a haphazard way.

ぎゅんと means gripped very tightly in the context that was used in the book.

ぶーっと means one’s cheeks are puffed up with air, like one is pouting.

Hopefully these help with gleaning the meaning of these words in the context in which they were used.


The Swedish version has a different illustrator, and they decided to use this:


Nice, thanks for sharing!

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Repeat Club Discussion (Week 6) Starts Here!

Chapter 4 Part 1

V1: Pages 71 - 84
V2: Pages 62 - 74
BookWalker: ?

Last line:

1 August 2020

Please briefly check whether questions have already been answered above before posting them, but otherwise don’t hesitate.

  • I’m reading along
  • I’m still reading but haven’t reached this part yet
  • I’m dropping this book
  • I’m a superhero who’s read it before but is here for chatting :books:

0 voters


Fell asleep early yesterday. Luckily, I hadn’t had any real questions regarding the last page-and-a-half of chapter 3. That said, if I’m only going to allow myself the one cheat day per week, I’d better make sure not to miss today completely. So, from the first ~page and a half of Ch. 4:

  • かあさんのコキリさんのつくてえくれたおべんとう… …ベッドのはじにぼうっとすわったままですごしてきました。- Phew, this one was nearly half a page! Sorry for cutting so much of it out. I think I’ve got a handle on it, but… By my understanding it’s saying that Kiki has just been on the bed slowly eating the rest of her bento and butter bread without much appetite.

  • わけもなくおびえてしまうのでした。- Kiki had no reason to be scared? This does seem like a sudden turn after the optimistic ending of the previous chapter, but I’d say she had enough of a scarring experience.

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Q1: Yes, that’s how I read it as well. (And she was sitting on the end of her bed, letting time slowly pass.)

わけもなく - without reason
おびえてしまうのでした - was (unfortunately) scared

So I read this as She was scared without a reason.


Hey, going more gradually throughout the week. I feel like it will be a lot better for me.

Read two pages this morning and somethings tripped me up.


This middle part of this sentence ことばにもならないいわけを really throws me off. I cut put together some of it, I parsed it out. But I still feel like I’m grasping at straws when mutiple particles are linked together. You know? Like when it’s one particle I’m like 100% on what’s going on. But here with the にも I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing with this.

Later there’s this sentence,

Which I’m translating as like…It’s not that I can’t go home, it would be embarrassing. But honestly the second line I don’t understand. I understand の is normalizing the adjective but I don’t understand how we are using the verb できれば in this situation? Does it mean like you could feel embarrassed?


This sentence I mostly get I just wanted to double check. Kiki’s just saying it’s like just a big town and she’s in it. Like it’s about her perspective about being in this larger city. Side note I’m really encountering this もの thing a lot more reading. It’s very common, and I’m noting it as indicating like the reason, the situation, I feel like it means a lot of things. I’ve been doing some studying about it. Interesting.

Happy to be reading, going to bike out to a 大仏 and then come back later. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

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Do you know what it would be saying if も wasn’t in there? Often も adds the nuance of “even”. So in this case, An excuse/explanation that doesn’t even become words. (Do keep in mind that I’m translating this with no context, so it could still be off.)

I’m assuming this should be ちに and はずかしのを. For the second line, you’re skipping over がまん in your translation. It’s if she can bear the embarrassment. As for the usage, がまん is a する verb, and できる is the potential form of する.

Also, and again it’s hard to say for sure without context, this looks like a case of the sentence being inverted. It seems to read more straightforwardly if you look at it as はずかしいのをがまんできれば、うちに帰ることもできないわけではありません. That would be the technically grammatically correct way of saying it. But of course, flipping the sentence around can add more flair. It’s not like I can’t just go home. If I can bear the embarrassment that is.

@ChristopherFritz I’m really curious how the two English versions translated this section.


First, thanks for the great reply. I actually don’t. Still struggled with this sentence at first I thought it was なる conjguated than I thought it was like the なら (if that’s the case blah blah) grammar point, but after reading your post its clear I was right in that it’s ならない. So honestly here I’m completely a drift. Why is there a second い in front of the わけ.

I’m reading it as like, saying in an explanatory way, It’s not like it’s being said.

This! Thank you! I had never seen がまん and thought it was an adverb for some reason. Ill have to more closely check my dictionary next time. Thanks for clearing that up! :pray:


I suppose I should start reading chapter four so I can get to this point… Off I go to do that just now…

… … …

Okay, caught up.

ことばにも line
Edition Line
Japanese 「だってさ、あたし、だってさ……」と、きょうも朝から、ことばにもならないいいわけを、心の中でくりかえしているのでした。
English (2003) Since morning, she had been repeating to herself all kinds of lame excuses, but none of them made sense. “But I just can’t… I’m not…”
English (2020) All morning, Kiki repeated half-hearted excuses in her head. “Well, because… I just… I mean…”

The next line probably makes more sense just by seeing the line before it, so I’ve included that:

うちに帰る line
Edition Line
Japanese このままこの町で、人間のふりして暮らすこともできるのです。でなけりゃ、うちに帰ることもできないわけではありません、はずかしいのをがまんできれば……。
English (2003) She could try living in this town and pretending she wasn’t a witch. If she couldn’t stand it, she could go back home, even though it would be pretty embarrassing.
English (2020) She could stay in town and pretend to be human, or if she swallowed her price, she could even go home.

I’m not used to seeing double negatives in Japanese, so that one took a bit for me to parse through and understand! (I didn’t look at the English releases until after I’d worked out the Japanese as best I could.)

This is where I like to step back and look at all the pieces in play.

First, I’ll ignore the のでした portion. The clause before that ends in a verb:

  • くりかえしている: to repeat

We have the action of something being repeated.

The particle で attaches to a word to tell us where the action of the verb takes place:

  • 心の中: (within) one’s mind

Something is being repeated in the mind, in one’s head, as thoughts rather than spoken words.

The particle を tells us what the action of the verb was done to. Specifically, it’s what was repeated:

  • いいわけ: excuse

Here’s where I’m a bit uncertain of the parsing. Is 「ことばにも」 part of a clause ending in 「いいわけ」, or is it part of the clause ending in 「くりかえしている」?

I went with the former. My explanation is just supposition on my part, so if I make any mistakes, I look forward to anyone correcting me so I may learn better.

This parsing gives:

  • (ことばにもならない)いいわけをくりかえしている。

In this case, the main verb of this inner clause is:

  • ならない: to not become

The particle に gives us a destination. If something is “becoming”, what is the destination of that action, the thing it becomes? If something is “not becoming”, what is the destination, the thing it does not become? The に particle here is on:

  • ことば

We have something not becoming words.

What about the も? I’m no good at explaining why, but I parse this 「…も…ない」 as “not even” as in “(did) not even become words”. It was reasons that couldn’t even be formed into words. I can understand why the 2020 English translation calls them “half-hearted excuses”.


I’m quite excited to see 知らんぷり show up, because that came up in a Detective Conan story I read recently. I’m reading the English release of the manga, and the solution necessitated the Japanese word 知らんぷり be spoken, and that really makes it hard to get a sense for how it must have sounded in the original. I also had trouble trying to understand the word in that English translation as it was rendered as “shiranpuri”, and which didn’t sound anything like any Japanese I know.

Now I can see that it’s 知らない + ふり (+ する), and means “appear to not know” similar to how 死んだフリする means “to play dead” (thank you ごちうさ volume 1 for teaching me that one).

It’s always nice when I can tie multiple things I’ve read together like this.


([ことばにもならない]いいわけ)をくりかえしている as you said.

Usually, it’ll be the shortest path it can attach to, but it can depend on context. But here for example, I can’t see it ever meaning the latter in this context (at the very least, commas could be introduced to guide your parsing when it’s not intuitive). XにもならないY is a quite common structure and it’s always parsed like this.


That was my instinct as well.

I run everything in Kiki’s through a parser to help visualize sentences, and this one comes out how I expect it to:

However, since I had the forums up in a browser, I had instead dropped the sentence into an online copy of the parser, which is an older software version:

That threw me off, and I struggled a bit with “this reading doesn’t make sense to me”.

And, when there may be two potential readings, one must go with, as you say, the one that makes sense in context.


Or even drop the one that doesn’t make sense even without context :rofl: Because I have no idea what a ならない言い訳 would be tbh…


Clearly it relates to something not spoken due to being known from context :wink:

Sometimes I get too focused on the trees to take notice of the forest.

I love so many things about this post!! Your breakdown was EXACTLY what I needed, because I was hung up on わけ (not knowing not was reason/excuse; I can’t look at EVERYTHING at once!).

I, too, was happy to see 知らんぷり! I have a stupid mnemonic for this which is “it’s a shampoo that lets you fake amnesia”.


That’s actually what いいわけ (the whole thing) means in this sentence. And it be clear, this is 言い訳, just so you can see the kanji for it. わけ can be hard to understand and translate in general though, especially when you haven’t seen it much in the real world.


Thank you so much, this post was so enlightening. It makes a lot more sense when I understand that the を particle is linking it to the verb くりかえしている past the comma.

Honestly, I’m still fuzzy on the も meaning not even in this situation, but I feel like I understand it and it’s something that will become clear over reading it more often. mrahhal said it’s a common structure so I’m going to my eye out for XにもならないY going forward.

Thanks again! :cupid:

Sitting down for my reading today… might post later if I’m feeling cute.

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