魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 6

Ha ha! Double post time! You’re all too slow to stop me! Soon I will control all of the chapter threads!

So, as an aside, has anyone else found their english skills slipping when attempting to translate Japanese to English? I may not be able to author a compelling plot, but I consider myself to be fairly competent when it comes to putting down purple prose. If I try to translate something though, I always end up in an uncomfortable middle position between super-literal and interpretive. Just literal enough to sound stilted, but not enough to convey all of the nuance of the original text. I’m sure this is a skill that will get better over time, but it’s interesting to take note of.

Anyway, onto the book. Gotta start speeding up now or I won’t catch up by friday, so I read three pages last night. Pages 9-12 of this week’s reading from the red book:

  • あいかわらずにこりともしないで、- Just pointing this out because it took me a few readovers to realize this was にこり as in smile and not に the particle.

  • 風でどこかへ行きそうになったら、ぐいっとひっぱってね、いうこときかすんですよ。- I’m a little confused about the last section of this sentence: いうこときかすんです. I’m breaking it down as 言うこと (speaking) and 聞かす (To inform), but I’m unsure how this fits into the sentence as a whole.

  • たいへんな評判になりました。- I didn’t realize that たいへん could be used in this neutral-positive manner. Hm.

I thought it was him being real bossy:
言うこと the things (I) say
聞かす (I) make (you) listen
Which I put together as “listen to what I say.”

Yes, that usage is terribly common, in fact :grin:.


p.136 red book
The correct answer is (drumroll) 3.
きき is the unmarked は-topic of the sentence, and Kiki thought とんぼさん was praising her.
If he was praising himself there wouldn’t be any くれる

Does that mean 自分 (and と思った) refers to the (sometimes invisible!) topic rather than the subject?
Yes, but it’s not really invisible, it’s just not stated explicitly because you already know that Kiki is there from context.

If you’re not already familiar with the concept of high-context (e.g. Japan) and low-context cultures, you may like to read more about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-context_and_low-context_cultures

p.137 red book. Yes, I have question marks next to that from my read through in 2018. But it makes sense. She hung up on the caller without waiting to see if she was going to add anything else.


p.132 red book
I took it to be the “to make (someone) listen; to make (someone) understand” meaning of 聞かす. So if the picture/balloons seem to be heading somewhere due to the wind, she should yank on the cord (like you would pull a dog back with a leash) and make it understand (that you don’t want it going that way).


This makes more sense to me than my interpretation, actually, but why is 聞かす in plain form rather than some kind of command/suggestion form? That’s what made me think the 聞かす was what とんぼさん was doing.

Or maybe it’s sort of like “(it) will make (the balloons) listen to what you say”-- a comment on the purpose of the leash, rather than an instruction for Kiki.

Also, I am familiar with the context-heavy nature of Japanese, but it’s definitely what gives me the most trouble. I’ll check out that article, thanks!


Repeat Club Discussion (Week 11) Starts Here!

Chapter 6 Part 2

V1: Pages 138 - 150
V2: Pages 124 - 135
BookWalker: ?

We’re reading to the end of Chapter 6 this week.

5 September 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

It usually takes me a few days to finish the week’s pre-read, but the end of chapter 6 was SO funny, I read it all in one go.

I read Japanese in 3 stages;

  1. Pre-read: read through, sidelining words I don’t know.
  2. Add definitions: I physically write all the words I don’t know down, and add the definitions. I would eventually like to be able to write as well as read, so I need to practice writing anyway. Since Kiki doesn’t have a ton of unfamiliar kanji, I can usually fit it all in the margins.
  3. Read it again, referring to the definitions in the margins when necessary.

It’s a little 面倒臭い but two of the steps feel like reading (very enjoyable) rather than studying (less enjoyable), so I like it.


Thank you for the link. I found this article on high/low context cultures very interesting.


Double posting too! @Sharpevil you are not the only one! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
I’m rereading what I read this morning and still don’t undersand what is か doing in this sentence (p. 121 V2):
ほうきもなんとかなめらかに飛ぶようになったし 、ききの生活も、おちついてきたに見えました。

  1. First interpretation: the broom has come to fly in a more smooth way and her life too seems more calm ] But is this か a question?
  2. Or maybe is it saying something like that?: I wonder if her life too seems more calm.

And then there is a whole sentence I don’t understand on p.122:
(This is a quote, by the way. I am using a different IME (windows) and don’t know where the quotation marks are.)
Well, back to the sentence: I more or less understand that Tonbo is telling Kiki that she flies in an easy-going but not very girly way.
But I don’t know what is せい: nature? control?
The last part I don’t understand at all: Somehow it can be said? Whatever they say?



My interpretation was something along the lines of Maybe because you fly, you’re very easy going and I like that (not sure about the last bit, 気楽 and さばさば seem very similar in meaning, so more literally something like “you’re easy going and for me easy going is good”). You don’t feel like a girl. I can talk to you about anything (or you can talk about anything?)


I don’t know the answer to your question… It seems to me almost like a passive 来たく; like the “Optative past” of auxiliary verb 来る “きたかった” where they dropped the った in making a combined verb form (I am super bad at these complex verb forms; and I have no sorry for leaving such off). Or 帰宅, also pronounced きたくreturn home)), which might make it the て form of settling down (おちついて 落ち着いて) a conjunction; but passive isn’t a nominalizing to take the に marker for what was seen 見えました.

I just actually am trying to figure out how to use 見える. I had this same comment about [Sharpevil’s ‘clear blue skies being evidence’](Sharpevil, post:104, topic:28729) a few pages back. I keep reading this verb as a passive conditional "it can be seen ____. " or "it was seen ____ " . I’m jumping off to research this now… This post will likely be edited soon.

@Wildjinjer, your page looks VERY MUCH cleaner than mine!!

It is a word in and of itself: https://jisho.org/search/見える meaning “to be seen”, “to be in sight”.

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Hmm… Yes, a confusing example in there… It’s really IS “to be seen…”. But it’s weird!

  • 2000年にほん日本の医療制度が世界一だが、2003年に研修医制度が始まって目に見えて悪くなった

  • In 2000 Japan’s health care system was the best in the world, but since clinical internship was introduced in 2003 it has clearly deteriorated..

The 見える is complicated. (Here, is an idiom with 目). Thank you, @NicoleRauch, I can see that this is going to be a “rabbit hole” that needs exploring!

Hard for me to say without context, but it could be an embedded question.


Yeah :slight_smile: 目に見える is another expression, as you noticed: https://jisho.org/search/目に見える

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OMG, that makes so much sense, since I was disturbed by the apparent lack of a nominalizer… But “embedded questions are nominalizers” is a research paper cited in that link. And also, @Tonina your amazing instincts seem to be CORRECT! Wow! So impressed!


Congrats, all! If you’re caught up, you’re officially past the halfway point! If you’re not all caught up, consider this a goal line. We’ve got a little rest area set up with lemonade and snacks off to the side here, so let that be your motivation to keep it up!

Took my break this week on Friday instead of Saturday this week, so I hope you don’t mind me being a day late with my last questions from last week’s final 3 pages. Let’s see here…

  • 飛行クラブのとんぼさんは、よくキキの店に遊びにくるようになりました。- I sometimes forget these characters are only 13. Kiki going out on her own really throws me for a loop. Come to think of it, as I rapidly approach the end of my 20s, it seems more and more bizarre what an enormous gap in maturity, or at least perceived maturity, there is between 13 and 16.

  • おばあさんなのに、すみれっていうんだからはずかしいことねえ。- She’s saying that Despite being an old lady, her name is Sumire (Assumably a younger woman’s name, or maybe the flower is just associated with youth?) so it’s emabarassing?

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That is all.


見える it’s also used to mean something like “to seem”

The か in this case didn’t seem like a classic case of an embedded question, which usually has a question word, and correspond pretty well to clauses that start with question words in English (ex: “does anyone know where I put my phone?”). However, I’ve noticed this style of か a bunch of times (it’s been in きき a couple times already, so the fact that you’re noticing it now probably signals some growth in your grammar skills😀). I think it’s sort of a quoted uncertainty, or maybe even just a soft statement. In this case, I think it means “…didn’t it seem like Kiki’s lifestyle had calmed down, too?” That would be weird in English because it sounds so conversational, and who is it taking to? But a conversational narrator seems more common in Japanese. So, I would translate it to “Kiki’s lifestyle had calmed down, too,” because English doesn’t like uncertainty as much as Japanese!

Kiki is just the right level for me, I think. But keep in mind that I have 5 years of formal Japanese class in college, and a total of 4 months spent in Japan, in addition to WaniKani, so it’s actually probably 情けないthat a 4th grade text is the perfect level for me!


Just posting to continue to mark I’m on the grind to catch up. Just started Chapter 6…hoping to catch up by the start of Chapter 7…but we`ll see. Hope everybody is doing well. I’m exhausted and maybe a bit overworked lol. God bless.