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

There are three different options for how to end this phrase: ならない、いけない and だめ. The last one breaks the pattern of double negation because the „negation“ is already in the word itself. That is a bit tricky to catch.

Oh, of course I also have excuses.

First, home radiator has broken and started flooding the flat. And I had to empty the bucket every hour, because the water was coming so quickly. But repairman could only come the next day, so it also meant waking up every 60 minutes at night.
Next, a fly went inside my TV. I… didn’t even know it could happen. It was visible on the screen, walking behind the transparent-panel-whatever-it-is-called. And then it died. In the middle of the screen. I didn’t have a box for this TV anymore, so transporting it for the extraction of the fly was nearly so tricky as Kiki’s flying with the painting. Although I’m afraid balloons wouldn’t be enough in my case, because a TV is heavier than a painting, even if I could use a broom to fly it to the repair shop :frowning_face:

But I guess everyone has some excuse for falling behind, the trick is being able to get back on the track :stuck_out_tongue:
And I know from experience that it’s really easy for me to go spiraling downwards from something that seems a minor schedule disruption at first, so I’m really wary about even a small setbacks.


I feel like some Chapter6, “new for me vocabulary” from the very first sentence, fits your recent days:
散々な目に合った次の日、Ainslinさんは「6 ちょっといちいちする」を読みに取り掛かりました。

Also… From V.2 p. 112 (Ch6 2nd page) This may already be in the vocabulary sheet somewhere, but I didn’t notice it:

独り言 ひとりごと = soliloquy, monologue, speaking to oneself.
独り言を言う = to talk to oneself, soliloquize, give a monologue.

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Alright, looks like I’ve managed to pidgeonhole myself into 3 pages a night to keep pace. Well, if that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do. Pages 5-7 of this week’s reading:

  • じゃじゃじゃん - Put this into youtube search to see if it’s exactly the sound I thought it was, and… Actually, I just got japanese minecraft videos. Very cute skin, though: image

  • それどころじゃないもんだから…… - Is she saying she has more going on than just being busy?

  • まにあわせ屋さんだから、手でまにあわせ、ってわけ - I understand this to effectively mean Because this is a makeshift shop, I do things by hand (A makeshift way of doing things), is the reasoning I give.

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I don’t think she means she does things by hand in general, just that because she has no washing machine, she makes do by hand washing.

This chapter has quite a bit of pure otomonopeia that isn’t showing up in jisho.org. I think the author is being creative with her song-song sounds.

I really enjoyed this chapter :slight_smile: I love the way the 間に合わせ屋さん talks. She’s a fun character.

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This reminds me of my favorite mnemonic for the Kiki’s vocab onomatopoeia かんかん (extremely angry, furious, enraged): what you get when you ask a feminist to do the Can Can (French dance).

I’m wondering what the English versions call this washer-woman’s business? Last-Minute Laundry? Nick-of-Time Knickers-Washing?

Doesn’t she seem magical, the way she sings and gets everything done? Like that crazy artist in the woods, singing about shades of black. They both sound “witchy” (old crone-style) in the audiobook. The shop ladies in this book all work very hard! (The seamstress, the pregnant baker…)

Now that I’ve finished Reading through Ch6, I’ve been trying to listen to the audiobook while following along the text–for two days!
My listening comprehension at full speed is still abysmal! (Even while looking at my notes) And I keep getting bogged down by falling into grammar rabbitholes (like the use of い Verb + 掛かる for Verbs you just started to do–but will never finish)

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I’m pretty certain I’ve heard a sing-song sound done with these particular syllables, usually to emphasize in a sort of a “Ta-dah” way. Like, ⱼₐ-ja-ʲᵃᵃᵃⁿ. But, I’ve got no way to prove or be certain this is the sound the author was going for. Still, that’s how I imagine it in my head.

Hm. My counting seems to be all in disarray lately. Going into today I thought I had 3 pages to read tonight and tomorrow. Then, after looking at them, I was dismayed to realize I had to read 3 and 4 pages. Now I’m realizing it’s 2 and 2. Hope my brain can words, because it certainly can’t numbers. So, pages 8-10 of this week’s reading:

  • まあるくたれていきました。- This is tough to parse for me, though the IME when typing it helps. I’m guessing with kanji included, this would be 間歩く垂れて行きました? (As she walked, it began to sag)?

  • そんなこといったってーっ - Wasn’t sure on this one. My gut says it means something like “You say that, but…”.

  • わーすごいぞ。ぼくたち、でっかいしっぽ、さげてるみたいだ -

Jiji when Kiki needs help or emotional support:

Jiji when Kiki has a bunch of laundry tied to her:


I’m reading a bilingual folktale, and I saw the mysterious use of か.

There was no hint of a question, embedded or otherwise in the translation, which makes me more confident about my hypothesis that this use of か it’s just an example of Japanese embedding uncertainty more than English. I would translate this phrase as “perhaps for that reason,” but here’s the original and translation:

A big, round moon had risen high and bright, making everything look weird and unreal.


On the vocab sheet, it’s listed as being a lengthening of 丸い. I’ve seen this in the folktale too:

So, it started to droop in a big U. One hint that it’s not 歩くis that plain form verbs can describe nouns but not other verbs. Since たれる is a verb, まあるく must be an adverb.


Could someone provide some context for this sound? じゃじゃん is often used in anime to mean the same thing as ‘tada!’

That’s exactly it. Another possibility is that the narrator is talking to himself/herself, and that か indicates that the narrator is wondering about whether or not that’s a cause.

PS: for anyone who doesn’t know what I do on this thread and is wondering why I’m asking for context… I just haven’t read the book at all. :sweat_smile: Still, I want to see if I can help anyway.

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Nearly shirked my duty today. Why? Because I’m tired? Sick? Family issues?

No, because I was having a really hard time tearing myself away from a video channel I just discovered where a guy with a sausage grinder makes sausage out of random foods. Now to crank this out so I can go see how a Peanut Butter and Jelly sausage turns out. From pages 11-12 of this week’s reading:

  • 風がキキの体をふきぬけていくたびに、このところ心にもやもやとたまっていたものが、いっしょに飛んでいくような気持がしました。- Long and tough to parse. Breaking it down section by section, I get: “Each time the wind blew through Kiki’s body,” “The gloomy things that had recently built up in the heart”, and “It felt like it flew off together.”, so putting it together a little less literally, I get “Each time the wind blew over Kiki’s body, it felt like the unpleasantness that had so recently been accumulating inside her was blown away with it.”

  • かご also means basket. Hm. Good to know she’s not locking those poor clothes up.

And that’s it. Not really questions this time around, it was mostly easy to read. Hopefully that breakdown makes the sentence clearer for someone, it took me a while to parse it.


I am nearly done with this chapter. As of today, I had only read two pages, so it’s being sort of a marathon! Luckily, with all these onomatopeia and repetitions it’s not too hard to read. I have a question about this sentence though.

In jisho とんとん is translated as: aloof; morose; stuck-up; standoffish (there is another meaning related to smell) and in the vocab sheet we have: bad temperedly.
Those translations somehow don’t seem to fit, because Sumiresan seems to be very happy about getting help from Kiki. Could it mean ‘energetically’ or something like that?

Edit: p.132 v2


I think it might be the 4th meaning, “軽く引っ張ったりするさま” (pulling lightly).


Alright, time for chapter 7! But, before then, let’s take a quick look at the last two pages of chapter 6:

  • そうかと思うと、黒い長靴の片っぽに、すすきがいっぱい生けてありました。- Alright, this baffles me a bit. Is this saying that Kiki was thinking そうか, then noticed the sock full of panpas grass?

  • こごとをいってやらなくっちゃ - I’m guessing this is just another shortening of なければいけません.

  • でも、どうまにあわせたらいいのか、なかなか思いつかないようなのです。- Another tough one. I’ll try to break it down, but I’m not wholly sure I’m properly understanding it. (But,) (How they would make do) (It seemed they have by no means figured it out). I’m not sure if this is referring to the slipper, life, or both.


Even though I read this book in English over a decade ago, I’d completely forgotten over 90% of it, so reading this line in the Japanese original feels like some revelation. It’s interesting to learn about all these names (such as おソノ’s mix of hiragana and kakatana) after having seen the Ghibli adaptation so often.

And since とんぼ has no meaning to the English ear, here’s how the English releases handled it:

Language Sentence
Japanese 「あいつは、とんぼさんっていうんです。めがねが似てるでしょ。」
English (2003) “His nickname is Tombo. It’s Japanese for ‘dragonfly.’ You know, his glasses make him look like a dragonfly.”
English (2020) “His name’s Tombo. We always say his glasses make him look like a dragonfly.”

Perhaps needless to say, pre-reading with the 2020 translation left me a big confused on this part. Reading the Japanese, I was also confused, because I was unfamiliar with the meaning of とんぼ, but I could tell I was missing something due to the って after his name. Reading the original translation, it all came together =D

(Unrelated to the above, I’m becoming more and more un-enamored with the 2020 translation, as I keep finding sentences just plain completely removed, such as one of the townspeoples’ comments on Kiki’s flying on her new broom.)


@ChristopherFritz xcerpts (including in earlier threads), I was liking the first translation more… But I tend to veer close to Literal translations, anyway, letting the receiver NOTICE the different ways people think. Also, I’m enjoying the art you shared more and more as we go through!! Thank you!

I wonder whetherとんば was in the vocab sheet (didn’t check, because I’ve been working off an old version so I don’t accidentally mess up the group one). Anyway, I thought it made sense that とんぼ is a flying insect, but I thought that it was the same boy who had stolen her broom to try to fly (and that she only learned his name later). IS it the same boy?

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Yes, it’s the same boy!

I would love to know the thought process of the 2020’s translator for removing/shortening everything. It’s hard not to be snarky about it - right now I could translate this book if I could just remove sentences I’m unsure of. Maybe the translator was the same. :roll_eyes:
I searched for some interviews - link here - and although it doesn’t say much, there are some interesting quotes:

More common, but often frustrating, are sentences that come with a ton of qualifiers before the subject; they can contain info that, at least to an English reader, seems totally off-topic in the paragraph or just feels super wordy compared to what is actually being said.

Super wordy, he says. So he decided to spare English readers this wordiness? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

On the other hand, sometimes the way writers are able to layer in details is impressive, but it can still be a challenge to replicate in English.

And yep, I can definitely see some “details” missing… Like whole phrases.

And here he mentioned the Tombo thing.

One thing I learned though is that Tombo is called Tombo (“Dragonfly”) because of the way his glasses make him look. It’s just a nickname that makes no sense in English, but it’s too established, so we kept it.

(I’m using male pronouns for the translator based on this source - they say it’s he/him at the bottom of the page.)

Anyway, I only saw quotes cited by @ChristopherFritz, but looking at them - I’m wondering why they even did a newer translation. :woman_shrugging:t2:


The removed sentences have been very simple ones, though. A few removed items:

  • Removed reference of marriage as the trigger for Jiji leaving Kiki.
  • Removed Osono showing off her leg.
  • Removed townsperson asking Kiki if the reason for her bad flying is because her bottom’s lost some weight.

Edit: I should mention, I don’t know if the translator removed items, or if they were removed in post-translation editing/revision by the publisher. I’m trying to avoid specifically faulting the author when I don’t know where they were removed.

That caught off off guard (had me thinking you’d pulled up something unrelated!) Looks like he uses his birth name for translation credits.

Some parts of the new translation are really, really good. Some things that were done poorly in the earlier translation are handled better in this one. And I do hope they keep translating the series. But the mysteriously missing words/sentences worries me (what’s the purpose of taking out some parts?). Some lines feel like they’re a lot flatter than the original English translation, but some are better in the new version. I feel like the earlier translation, even if a bit looser in its translation, used a better command of flowery English prose. But the newer translation has its moments. </ramble>


Another quote:

How to keep the same sort of momentum without ending up with an unwieldy run-on sentence

So another explanation is that he simply thought it would be more… dynamic that way.


I think your interpretation is almost right. そうか can of course mean either ‘I see’ or ‘oh, really?’, depending on the context. Just a few things I’d like to raise:

  • 長靴 are long boots, not socks
  • 片っぽ is a version of 片方, and means ‘one side’, so what she noticed was only true of one of the boots
  • 生けて involves the same verb used in 生花 (flower arrangement), so that might suggest that the grass was arranged in a particular way, or at the least that it was stuck in there on purpose

Pretty close, and definitely correct in terms of meaning. Technically though, なくては→なくちゃ (with the extra っ just creating another form that’s probably technically incorrect or at least quite informal) and なければ→なきゃ. How I keep the two apart is this: the CH sound in English is actually T-SH, so only the form containing a T sound (て) can have an abbreviated form containing a CH.

Your translation is pretty close, so I’d say you’ve understood it. I understand the sentence, but I had to check the dictionary to figure out how to translate certain things since I knew what they mean without being able to explain them succinctly in English. Anyway, here are some suggestions:

  • どう〜たらいいのか is literally ‘how, if ~ is done, will it be good’, or in other words, ‘how should ~ be done (in order that it/the situation will be good as a consequence)’. Replacing ‘would’ with ‘should’ should make the translation more accurate.
  • I could be wrong, but I don’t think なかなか is ‘by no means’. That’s too strong, and is closer to 全然. The Wisdom EN-JP dictionary suggests ‘not easily’ or ‘far from’, which are nuances I think fit well here. They are ‘having trouble’ or ‘far from’ finding a way out.
  • 思い付く (as you can see from the kanji) is literally ‘to think and become attached to’, so it technically doesn’t suggest a complex process like ‘figuring something out’. Instead, it’s about mentally ‘chancing upon’ something. They’re having trouble ‘thinking of’ an answer or ‘hitting upon’ ideas.

Whatever it is, I think you’re doing a great job figuring the sentences out, and I hope you’re enjoying the story so far. :grin:

Just gonna chime in because I have certain personal standards for translation, even though honestly my opinions don’t really matter: I think a translator should be as faithful to the original as possible, unless a near-literal translation would make no sense in English whatsoever. Not being able to ‘keep the same sort of momentum’ is proof of incompetence, or at least proof of a refusal to acknowledge and accept that some things just can’t be maintained in the process of translation, like sentence structure. I looked at the comparison table above for the Tombo sentence, and I think the 2020 translator simply abdicated his responsibility. Never mind not wanting to add an explanatory sentence: the 2003 translation kept the tone close to what でしょ implies (something like ‘I guess’ or ‘‘cause’). The 2020 translation lost the original tone entirely. Also, it makes the translator look really lazy since he said ‘Tombo’, as a nickname, ‘makes no sense in English’: it’s as though he’s complaining about the author giving him something difficult to translate, and then petulantly refusing to make its meaning explicit for readers. He could have fixed things by literally adding one or two words – ‘(“dragonfly”)’ or ‘like “dragonfly”’ – after ‘Tombo’. More importantly, if the author decided to write things a certain way, then there’s a reason for it. It’s too bad if English sentence structure tends to make it flow differently, because authors put certain elements into books in order to shape readers’ perspectives, even if those things aren’t strictly necessary at that point in the story. A translator is not an editor, and shouldn’t try to be one.