OK, here’s a simple question: in the first line of p. 128 (red book), the artist on the phone says: あしたお昼ごろ、とりにきてね。 I think she’s saying, tomorrow around noon, come to my place. But what is this とり? I really don’t think she’s saying “come to the bird”…
I was thinking that playing along with this book club would be great practice, but if anything, it’s actually made me less confident, and perhaps even less interested in learning Japanese.
I feel like every single sentence is a puzzle with no clear explanation. Even those who are able to understand it are still guessing at what the true meaning is. Grammar just seems like a bunch of nuances that you would actually need to be a native speaker in order to understand.
For a language that requires such rigidity and forwardness, there is a lot of guessing as to what things mean.
Kiki is no easy feat, intermediate book club members have commented on how our book seemed harder than theirs at one point, so don’t let it kill your motivation! The abundance of kana in place of kanji tends to make things more confusing – it’s really all about finding a level of reading practice that’s suited to where you are in your studies, but not only that, it’s about finding something that interests you! Otherwise it’ll just feel like a demotivating chore
Have you checked out the Yotsubato reading club? That might serve as good practice in place of Kiki with an active discussion base – the intermediate book club just started a new book this week too, it’s a collection of short stories with varying levels of difficulty, so maybe you’d enjoy that more too
Regardless, don’t let this book kill your confidence, it’s not an easy book by any means so don’t feel like you’re lacking! Find something you want to read that is challenging, but not too challenging to the point where it makes you feel like you don’t know anything. Any amount of progress is still progress, it’ll get better with time
It sorry to hear that. Language by no means is a hard science. If native speakers could understand each other 100% there wouldn’t ever be misunderstandings or misinterpretations about what the other person actually meant. In reality all languages are a negotiation of how to interpret the words of the one speaking as much as it’s understanding how to adeptly put one’s own thoughts (feelings, etc) into words that can somewhat make sense to the listener.
I can attest personally how frustrating it can get, especially when it’s not a book, but a conversation you have to interpret. Whether or not you continue with this club or choose to do something different, don’t take this hit at your confidence as a loss, but rather an awareness of where you need to focus on to improve.
On p. 132 (red book) the first line, describing how Tonbo is taking something out of his bag, includes the phrase こたりのもしないで. I’m completely stumped on this one (except that the しないで probably means without doing something). Any ideas?
EDIT: I think I got it, or nearly so. The full phrase (which I should have included right away) is 相変わらずにこりともしないで. I had thought に here was a particle, but it’s not; the word here is にこり, smile/grin.
So I think we have either “as usual, without a smile” or “without his usual smile” — probably the latter. What do you think?
OK, one more (for today! ). Still on p. 132 (red book), Tanbo says:
I think I have the first part (before ね): “If it seems like a wind will blow you somewhere, pull hard on the rope…” But I don’t understand the rest of it. きかす can mean “to inform about,” but I don’t see how that helps here.
When I read it at first, I thought it was the former, but I wasn’t that confident in this. However, I just finished this section and the last line is 「とんぼさんは、初めて嬉しそうに白い歯を見せて笑いました。」. Based on this I’m now pretty confident that it is the former: “as usual, without a smile”.
Side comment: Apparently とんぼ means dragonfly, so that’s cool and somewhat relevant to his character’s personality.
I agree with your translation of the first part, but unfortunately I’m also stumped on the second part. Hopefully someone else can help out.
ように can mean “so that” (i.e. “in such a way that”). 運び is the noun form of 運ぶ, so 絵を運び is basically “the carrying of the painting.” So it all comes down to literally “He has (for me) a plan such that the carrying of the painting will be good.” Or more naturally, pretty much what you guessed — he’s figured out a good way to carry the painting.
OK, so I’m confused about the plan here. I mean, I get what it is (there’s a great illustration in the red book): tie hydrogen (!) balloons to the picture, and tow that on a rope from the broom.
But I don’t really get how this helps. The concern was that the low-quality broom she’s riding bucks a lot, especially in the wind. Several times Kiki is told (or says) that in case of wind, she should pull on the rope. How does that help? I’d think that big painting (not to mention bunch of balloons) would act like a kite, and just pull her all over the place.
One thing I think I just got: When Tonbo originally suggested お散歩方式, I thought he was telling Kiki she should just walk with the painting. Seemed like a sensible solution for such a fragile and irreplaceable item, if maybe a bit anticlimactic. But now I think 散歩 must also be the term for walking a dog… the idea being that we’re putting the picture on a leash, and “walking” it like a dog.
I also wondered at first if he was telling her to just walk the painting, even though that clearly ended up not being the case. Anyway, I think the idea is that the balloons would make the painting lighter. This would theoretically make the painting easier for Kiki to handle (by pulling on the strings). And based on the end of this part, Kiki believes (or is just saying to reassure the artist) that the balloons will make it so the painting can move freely on its own, implying that it won’t just fall and break if it gets caught in a gust of wind (at least that’s how I took it).
Of course, it’s not like Tonbo has proven himself. You could very well end up being right and this could be another disaster.
By the way, can you post a picture of the plan? I’d love to see it!
I read this as Kiki thinking ‘half of this broom is made by me (the handle) and half by mum (the brush part)’
My translation: It wasn’t as if Kiki hadn’t thought of using the opportunity to boldly create the entire broom anew. But she felt that there was a lot of peace of mind remaining in the brush of her mother’s broom, and she couldn’t get used to the idea of throwing it all out, no matter what.
= Red book p126
I think Kiki is amused/slightly exasperated that people are friendlier (although in a rather condescending way!) now that she is clearly unable to fly as easily as she could earlier.
My take: (Some townsperson to Kiki) "I’m somewhat relieved, because whenever I saw you flying like a black streak, like you used to, you really looked like a wicked witch"
Kiki pondered this deeply.
“Being liked more as you get worse at something is a curious thing. I don’t think Mum realised that until now either.”
Oh my goodness, I feel like that archetypal person who runs into a crowd scene, misinterprets what’s going on and makes a complete embarrassment of themselves I honestly read that as someone else talking, but now you mention it, it seems obvious that Kiki is saying it…
But then I re-read it and I think maybe it is still a townsperson. Because, before the other comments, it says …前よりずっと、町の人が声をかけてくれるようになったのです。And then it says また、こんなふうに言う人もありました. (There were also people who said things like this) followed by the comment about being relieved.
So I’m back to my original thoughts… but feel free to disagree with me, I am no expert!
And you trusted me to write chapter summaries!