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

Whoops. Didn’t get a chance to post yesterday. I’m still caught up (ish. Only been reading 2 pages per night thus far), so I guess I’ll make today a double feature. Probably a fair amount to question over four pages.

From pages 3-6 of chapter 6 (Red book):

  • 「おしりが軽くなったのかしら」- “Did your butt get lighter?” Weird. Are they insinuating that Kiki lost weight and became less able to handle her broom as a result?

  • 「ご、ぶ、さ、た、しました」- Is Kiki being chastized for not checking in with the painter, or is it sort of an eccentric 久しぶり?

  • そのとき絵もお見せしたいわ - I don’t have a question about this. I’m just reminded that I really ought to practice my keigo. As I consume more media, I find myself becoming more comfortable with casual language, but less casual language remains a struggle.

  • 朝、こんなに空が高く見える日は、上のほうでは風が強くふいている証拠なのです。- Making sure I’ve got this one: Mornings on days where you can see so high into the sky like this are proof that strong winds are blowing high up.

  • 「なめらかに飛ぶ方法だったらずいぶん研究した」- Is this saying that If there’s a way to smoothly fly in the sky, they’ve researched it?

  • まだついているといいんですけど…/ははは、ついています - Just to make sure, they’re talking about Tonbo still having the scrape on his forehead when they say ついて, right?

Phew. I feel much better now. Hopefully I’m back on course for the rest of the week. Re-reading those four pages took the better part of an hour. Luckily, I’ve already read tonight’s pages as well.

Hang in there, everyone! By the end of this week, we’ll be halfway through the book!

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「おしりが軽くなったのかしら」- “Did your butt get lighter?” Weird. Are they insinuating that Kiki lost weight and became less able to handle her broom as a result?

:joy: I think this is referring to one of the ways she can’t control her broom that was mentioned earlier, where the tail of the broom would go higher than the front. I haven’t been able to confirm that “broom tail” meaning of おしり though I’m on a kindle so don’t have the page number but the sentence was このほうきはどちらかというと、かあさんの房のほうがずっと元気がよくて、すぐあばれ馬のようにおしリがはねあがってしまうのです。 Which interpreted as saying that because the mom’s part of the broom is in better condition, the tail end goes up faster, which makes it look like an out of control horse.

「ご、ぶ、さ、た、しました」- Is Kiki being chastized for not checking in with the painter, or is it sort of an eccentric 久しぶり?

I don’t think ごぶさた could be used that way - it seems like a polite word, so unless she’s being super sarcastic, I think the painter’s just apologizing for not having contact Kiki in a while

朝、こんなに空が高く見える日は、上のほうでは風が強くふいている証拠なのです。- Making sure I’ve got this one: Mornings on days where you can see so high into the sky like this are proof that strong winds are blowing high up.

That’s also what I understood, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Are cloudless, windless skies not a thing?

なめらかに飛ぶ方法だったらずいぶん研究した」- Is this saying that If there’s a way to smoothly fly in the sky, they’ve researched it?

たら seems to be a little more nuanced than just “if” as it can also mean “when”. I (loosely) interpreted that to mean that they have researched ways of flying smoothly, something like “if you’re talking (or: if it’s) about flying smoothly, then we’ve researched it”

まだついているといいんですけど…/ははは、ついています - Just to make sure, they’re talking about Tonbo still having the scrape on his forehead when they say ついて, right?

I didn’t get this bit at all, but that definitely fits!

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Since she’s choosing a branch, I took 芯 at its literal meaning. In both English and Japanese, pith idiomatically refers to “core” in a more abstract way, but I think it’s literal here. The pith of a plant is a layer of tissue that can be soft and spongy, or hard, and a branch with soft pith would get damaged easily, so she would want tight (hard, closed) pith rather than soft (loose, open) pith.

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I believe the sensibility would be that if there are no clouds lingering in the sky, it’s because they’ve been blown away by strong winds.

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I thought it was a sort of nice (if silly) excuse they made for her-- like the only reason the back end of her broom is floating higher is because her butt is lighter than it used to be. Like, if you have scales that are balanced and then you remove weight from one side, that side rises.

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I guess that could be true, I don’t picture Kiki sitting way back on her broom, where all the bristles are so in my head her body would still be lower than the tail of the broom

Anyone else having a bit of a rough time keeping pace? Don’t give up, plenty of folks still working their way through these threads. Chart a course that puts you back on track!

From pages 7-8 of this week’s reading:

  • 目が違うな/もっと、くるんとしてかわいいよ。- Boy, this Tonbo is laying down the charm, huh? I sure wouldn’t have had a line like that at 13.

  • 魔女の雰囲気をだそうとしてみたんだけど…… - So, I understand this to mean “I was trying to give it a witchy atmosphere, though”, but I’m unsure what the だそう is. Specifically the だ. Is it だ as in です, or だ as in 出す?

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First, you are so, so good at understanding sentences. You have a gift. Second, I’m 90% sure だそうとした
Is the volitional of 出す (I think of it like the painting is emitting that witchy atmosphere), in the following grammar. (N3)
[Volitional verb]とする= try to [verb]

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I’m still (slacking off) at chapter 5, but figured I’d come in and drop the chapter 6 artwork in. This will be for the whole chapter, so beware spoilers.

Kiki flying.

With balloons.

Coinless laundromat.

Clothesline.

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Don’t you love it when, in typing up your question, you clarify it enough to actually look up the part that is really confusing you, and then you learn new grammar? That happened with につれ, which I added to the spreadsheet.

I also added a phrase I’m not totally sure about , from page 122 (V2), to the spreadsheet:

みなまできかずに

I found the phrase みなまで言うな in jisho.org、, which meant “don’t finish what you’re saying,” so I took a small logical leap and defined the above phrase as “without listening to the end.” Thoughts?

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p.124 in my book.
More specifically, I think that she is saying that her new broom will be half of her own making, and half of her mother’s. Because she decided not to make a new one from scratch but to use the brush part from the old broom.

p.126 I had assumed this was referring to the end of the broom, but given the following line 「落ちる時は上手に落ちなさいよ」seems to be a little on the rude side (when you fall off, make sure you do it properly) I’m thinking maybe おしり really is the literal meaning :joy:

p.129 in my book
In this case it would be the “to help, to assist” meaning of 助ける, so more like “I was wondering if you could help me out with something.”
(Not a quotation.)

I’d love to comment, but I have no idea what page it is on :sweat_smile:

Page 122, V2

I’m on page 122 V2, and I’m not sure how to interpret the sentence.

そのときは、とんぼさんが自分をほめてくれたと思いました。

I think of くれる as meaning somebody else is doing something for you, so I’m thinking somebody thinks they’re praising someone else, but I’m confused by the 自分, which I think of as a catchall “~self” pronoun referring to the subject of the sentence. Since the subject is とんぼさん, that makes me think he is praising himself, but then I go back to the くれる and I’m confused again.
I feel like it’s one of these three:

  1. くれる could be とんぼさん doing something for himself, in which case, he thinks he’s praising himself.
  2. 自分 refers to Kiki, in which case とんぼさん things he’s praising Kiki. I think this makes more sense contextually, but then how the heck do you figure out who 自分 refers to?
  3. Or maybe きき is the unmarked は-topic of the sentence, and とんぼさん is only the subject for くれる? So Kiki thought とんぼさん was praising her? This probably makes the most sense, contextually, but does that mean 自分 (and と思った) refers to the (sometimes invisible!) topic rather than the subject?

Aww man, Japanese grammar.

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Edit: Sharpevil, I came out with your same interpretation regarding clear blue days being evidence of strong atmospheric winds.

Looking back into my notes for gigantic question marks:

  • Page 116 of Blue book (6th page into Chap5): 「へえ、ここがよこわかったなあ。あのときはほんとうにすいません。まだなにか、ぼく、思いことしましたか」I would just like to see someone’s take on this in English.

  • しずか (静) is used rather frequently… Far more than I expected.

  • Kiki often does things “without thinking”…I think it’s to show her innate magical skill, her intuition.

  • This banter at p. 122 regarding her eyes with Tonbo… It probably parallels her mother’s romance with the guy researching magic…

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A few typos in there. ここがよく, rather than よこ, and it’s actually 悪いこと、not 思いこと. Makes it a bit easier. And すいません is just a colloquial or more casual way of saying すみません.

My interpretation of that is “Wow, you’ve really gotten to know this place, huh? I’m really sorry about last time. Have I done something else wrong?” Pretty confident on everything but the last sentence.

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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:.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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