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

One more question:

In the title of the book, “10分読める伝記”, can we read 読める伝記 as readable biographies?

The whole of the previous phrase before とき (駅のベンチに座っていた), modifies the word とき.

So it becomes - At the time that he was sat on a bench at the station

Then everything before の (駅のベンチに座っていたとき)modifies the word こと

So it becomes - A thing/an incident (that happened) at the time that he was sat on a bench at the station.

I’d translate the whole sentence as: One day, an incident at the time Edison was sat on a bench at the station.

Or to preserve the Japanese sentence structure which puts こと at the end - One day, while Edison was sat on a bench at the station - an incident!

10分で読める is the name of the series - it is “readable in 10 minutes”. There are other 10分で読める series. This one is biographies.


I need to finish レンタルおにいちゃん so I can join in. It’s awesome to see so many different users from なぜ?どうして? Now I’m wondering if all my peers graduated to the Beginner Bookclub… I’m too excited for more biographies to skip this one though.

Hope to have some questions soon!


Yes we all find it easier with kanji. As we are learners it makes it easier to look up words we don’t know, easier to distinguish between homonyms that use different kanji, and if we know the meaning of the kanji it gives a clue to the meaning of the word.

It’s different of course if you are a native speaking 7 year old. In that case kanji are harder and it’s easier reading kana.

The advantage of reading a book aimed at younger children is that the language is simpler. The trade off is that there are less kanji used which makes it more challenging for us learners.

It’s why we are reading the grade 2 book and not the grade 1 book (which has even less kanji).


Not a specific piece of grammar or anything, but is it normal to basically have to look up/translate every sentence? I know discrete words (which feels good), but it’s just not coming together as cohesive thoughts (which feels bad.) I don’t know if I’m defeating the purpose of this by diving into the dictionary/Google translate to figure out meanings for every line, or that’s normal because, you know. Absolute Beginner.


I was doing that for every sentence in our last 10 Minute Reader! By the end of the book I was looking up less, and getting better at putting them into understandable sentences. I’m still not to the level of some of the people in this thread so I really appreciate following along and their translations to see how I can improve mine.



Here is my attempt at page.15

エジソンが ある日、駅の ベンチに すわって いた ときの こと。
One day, while Edison was sitting on a bench at the station, something happened.

とつぜん 線路に 男の子が とびだしていったのです。
Suddenly, a young boy appeared on the track.

目の 前には 汽車が―。
Infront he saw a steam train…

“Hey boy, look out!”

エジソンは すぐさま 線路に とびこみました。
Edison immediately leapt onto the track.

My only question is the last piece of the second line “とびだしていったのです”, I understand 飛び出して、but いったのです is puzzling me a little bit. Would love it if someone could clarify!

Cheers guys


This is 飛び出して plus the auxiliary verb いく (from 行く), past tense is いった. I guess it is used here to describe a movement away from the speaker. Therefore I wouldn’t translate the verb as „appear“ but rather as something like „rush forward“, „run towards“, etc.
The のです is here because this sentence explains what exactly the fateful incident is that was mentioned before.


Thank you, that makes a lot of sense

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p. 16

my translation

The train passed by briskly, and the boy and Edison were saved at the last moment.
“Are you ok? Oh, son!” The boy was the stationmaster’s son.
The stationmaster said, delighted:
“Thank you. How should I thank you?
Well, boy, would you like to work as a telegraph operator? I will teach you how to do it.”
“Telegraph work? Hooray!”
At the age of sixteen, Edison started his activity as telegraph operator.


Thanks again for your translation! I was unsure about one aspect:

You translated おお、息子よ!as Oh, son! which seems like Edison is addressing the boy as son. I interpreted this sentence as Oh, your are his son!

Does anybody know which reading makes more sense or if both are correct/possible? Thanks for your help!


As the sentence without omissions should read
I’d rather say “Oh, you are the son!” as there is no mention of “his”.
But I agree that it’s not just “Oh, son!” as this sounds as if he is his son.


No, I think it’s the stationmaster speaking.


Ah, interesting, that didn’t cross my mind. But wouldn’t this be strange as the station master is only mentioned a sentence later for the first time? To me it makes more sense that they escape the train and then Edison asks „Are you okay?“.


Yes, I agree with you. Why do you think it’s the stationmaster, @2000kanji ?

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Because I couldn’t see why Edison would call him 息子.
On the other hand I have seen in other texts that sometimes the direct speech precedes a sentence like ‘X was startled’. But of course you could be right with Edison recognizing the stationmaster’s son only after saving him.


Yes, he is not calling him 息子, he is just describing him as 息子。

The sentence after the direct speech also does not talk about the stationmaster. Only in the sentence after that, the stationmaster gets introduced as topic.


Well, I bow to the majority (other than a certain American in Washington) :wink:


It is normal that you have trouble translating things and sometimes need a Google translate to figure out how it all comes together. Don’t worry it will get better with time and exposure.
If you don’t want to use google translator immediately I’d recommend ichi.moe.
And deepl is usually way better at translating that google translator.


But didn’t Edison use ぼうや in dialogue on the previous page?

I also interpreted the dialogue as coming from the station master, where the following sentence (~“the boy was the station master’s son”) explains who was calling for their son.