10 Minute Biographies - Chapter 1 (Absolute Beginner Book Club)

I think I would translate and kanjify almost like you did. Just three things: I guess you forgot to translate なんでも at the beginning and も after 僕. And みる is usually not written with kanji when used as an auxiliary verb.


Thanks for sharing your translations. I guess if we include なんでも then we could translate it liberally as: A child who asks “why?” about everything becomes the king of inventors. .

I love that Jisho specifically mentions Edison as an example when you look up: 発明王.


On page 12:

Can someone help me understand what’s going on in these sentences:

  1. やってるんだ

  2. あこれたもんだ

  3. うくんだろう

I’m particularly confused by the usage of んafter verbs.


Here is p. 12


Edison sat on an egg.
For one hour, two hours, three hours … The egg doesn’t change, but Edison doesn’t give up.
Thereupon, his father came along.
“What are you doing? I’m totally exasperated at your ‘why’ and ‘how’.”
Once [he asked] “Why does wood float in the water” and he fell into the water when doing experiments in a lake, or [he asked] “How is flour made?” and went to a mill to see the making of flour.
In elementary school, Edison was always asking questions and the teacher called him an “odd child”.


See https://bunpro.jp/grammar_points/17

1 Like
  1. 何やってるんだ。means What are you doing?
    It’s casual for 何をやっているのですか。You use the explanatory particle の to ask for explanations or explain stuff.
  2. もん is short for もの, it’s often used to emphasize judgements or emotions.
  3. This is like 1. You will find の or variations often in combination with words asking for reasons like なぜ and どうして.

I didn’t know what that was either. I think your question helped a lot of there beginners too.
There are no stupid question in an absolute beginner bookclub. No one expects a lot of knowledge from you or anyone else. So the majority of us is probably going to ask a “basic question”.


I think you mistook うもれる (埋もれる) for 生まれる.

Thanks for your translations. It helps a lot to have a translation available that I can compare to mine.


If I interpret this correctly 卵 here is the topic but 何も is the subject. Therefore my translation would be more like: Concerning the egg, nothing changes/happens …

Edison is not the subject but the direct object, that is modified by the part before it. My translation would be:

The teacher called/scolded Edison, who in school too asked questions all the time, an odd child.


another time he was covered in flour because he went to peep at the mill


Yes, I missed that one.

Page 12.
I see what you are saying and I think yours is a more literal translation. But in natural English I would translate it like 2000kanji.

I think the Japanese word needs a more negative translation than “called”, Jisho suggested “to scold” or “to take to task”.

While the Japanese technically says “the teacher scolded Edison”, it also emphasised Edison by placing him as the object before the teacher as the topic. So I think I would change it to passive form in my translation, and say “Edison was scolded by his teacher”.

I think we also need to include the も from the start of the sentence, perhaps:

Even in school (where you would expect his inquisitive nature to be praised by the teacher), the constantly questioning Edison was scolded by his teacher as an “odd child”.


Thanks a lot for your feedback!
I guess there are always many possible translations and it’s interesting to see what other people come up with. That’s why I’m glad kanji2000 shares his translations.
Personally, I’m not aiming for natural English but I‘d like my translation to be close to the original sentence structure to get a feeling for the way Japanese sentences are composed. Maybe once I‘m more comfortable and advanced I‘ll translate more freely.


I’ve tried jumping around the attached links and I’m sorry if I missed it, but is there a link for this book? I know I’m a bit late to jump in discussions, but I’d like to see if I can follow along on my own.

Are you looking for this? The message includes some links to where you can buy the book or e-book.


ah, yes, I feel like an airhead, I had scanned up and down that thread and completely bypassed the source links. Thank you!

For more information on たい and たがる, you could also look at this CureDolly video. (I’m a big fan of this account/series so I’ll likely often link to these videos if I recognize a grammar point.)


Page 12: あるときは、「木は、なぜ水に浮くんだろう」と、湖で実験をして水に落ちたり、「小麦粉は、どうやって作られるの」と、工場を覗きに行って、小麦粉にうまれたり……。

Is this [verb]~たり related to this? Although this sentence contains a list of actions, I’m not completely sure because the する is missing in the end.

Yes, that’s the grammar point. I guess they left out する to indicate that there are still lots of examples that did not get mentioned (even more than when they simply closed the sentence with する), and used the dots instead.


Hi everyone, thanks for the discussion so far, it has been really helpful!

I think I get the gist of p.11 but there are still three things I don’t understand:

  1. This is probably very trivial, but: Why is なかった used in the second sentence? I’m reading it as if it was ありませんでした (“At a time when telephones and electricity didn’t exist (…)”). I only knew なかった as an ending to adjective/verbs to negate them, but I didn’t know it could stand alone.

2.* How do you break up あたためるんだそう grammatically? In particular, what does ~そう add to it? I’m thinking as follows. あたためる=to warm (up), and ~んで is “asking for explanation” and ~そう turns a verb/adj into a supposition (thanks for teaching me this!). So I want to say that the sentence 鳥はなぜ、たまごをあたためるんだそう is something along the lines of “Why do birds warm up their eggs (I want an explanation)?”. I don’t understand what “~そう” adds (it seems he knows that the eggs are warm and he asks for an explanation of why).

*Edit: I guess I was just being silly. He knows the eggs are warm but only supposes that the bird warms them, hence the そう.

  1. Is the following an OK grammatical breakdown of やってみよう (next to last sentence on p.11)? We have やる≈to do and [て-form]+みる≈to try to [verb], and finally ~よう≈let’s. That’s why it’s (roughly) translated as
    "よし、ぼくもやってみよう”=“Let me also try do do it.”

(Related to 3.: Why is やる used here and not する? Would it be wrong to say “よし、僕もしてみよう。”?)

Hey, welcome! :grinning:

Let’s see if I can help you a bit:

For 1: You got it right that the meaning is ありませんでした, which is the past negated form of ある in polite form. If we look at ある in negated dictionary form (non-past), this is simply ない, which leads us to the negated past dictionary form of なかった。
So basically

positive negative
dictionary ある ない
polite あります ありません

Usually, polite form is only used at the very end of a sentence, therefore everything before that is in dictionary form.

For 2: This is not う but う: 温めるんだろう. This last bit is https://jisho.org/search/だろう which means “I wonder”. The other stuff is like you said.

For 3: Yep, your understanding is correct. やる is a colloquial form of する - see Jisho’s annotation at #1: https://jisho.org/search/やる He is basically talking to himself, I take it, so there is no need for him to be polite.