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

P. 14
I’ve a question about the sentence
I understand that it means

my translation

The power of electricity is amazing.

(I’m sorry I don’t know how to blur text)
But I don’t know what the って means. I only know that das quotation marker but that doesn’t make sense to me because then って would be at the end of the sentence and not in the middle, right?

My question for today is for a later sentence.


I can’t tell if the そうだ is like an “Oh, I have an idea!” or more of a “I heard that you like telegraphs.”
Jisho has me leaning towards the latter interpretation but I can’t tell if that’s right.

I took one of the later options on Jisho where it says that って can also function as a topic marker similar to は. “As for electric power, it’s amazing!” Or something like that.


Now, we have a draw 2:2.


I tend to the “I have an idea”, as in the sentence before he is wondering what he could do to thank Edison. So そうだ could be a “that’s it, now I know”.


I think he uses bouya to address the boy and musuko to identify him as the son.
„The boy was the station master‘s son“ does not sound an explanation to for who is speaking, but for whose son the boy is.

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The quotation itself seems more likely to have come from a worried parent who can’t see their son behind the rolling train, than from the person who just saved him and knows he’s okay. “おお、むすこよ!” sounds very worried.

And why would Edison change how he refers to the kid when there was no information on that matter given between points of dialogue?

The picture shows Edison jumping and saving the kid in the last moment. After such a jump it seems natural to me that Edison would ask the child if he’s okay. The father doesn’t seem to be close, otherwise the kid probably wouldn’t have run onto the tracks.

Edison uses different words because one time he‘s making a remark ABOUT the boy, and the other time he is speaking TO the boy. I got the impression that he first only notices that a kid is running onto the tracks, everything goes really fast … and the he saved the kid and is close to him and recognizes that it’s the station master‘s son.


I showed this to my Japanese friend and she says it’s the stationmaster telling Edison that that is his son. 〜よ is used when conveying new information to the listener. She also said this is the kind of sentence you’ll only see in a children’s book.


Is this basically the same as “んだ” (#9 here), asking for (and/or giving) explanation…?

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Yes that’s right


Thanks for asking! I was not sure if you could use よ when you just found out new information and are telling yourself: Ah, that’s the way it is!
But now it makes a lot more sense that it’s the station master talking.


Page 16 from me::slight_smile:

汽車は いきおいよく 通りすぎ、男の子と エジソンは、ぎりぎりの ところで たすかしました。
The trained roared past, and the boy and Edison just barely got away safe.

「大丈夫か。おお、むすこよ!」男の子は、駅長さんの むすこでした。
“Are you alright? Ah, son!” The little boy was the station masters son.

駅長さんは よろこんで、いいました。
The station master was pleased, and said…

「ありがとう。なんと おれいを 言ったら いいか。そうだ、君、電信の 通信手の しごとを して みないか。やり方は 教えるよ。」
Thank you. I don’t know how I can thank you enough! That’s right, didn’t you want to see if you could work as a telegraph communicator? I will teach you!

「電信の しごと? やったあ!」
Work with a telegraph? Hooray!

十六さいで、エジソンは、電信の 通信手と して 活やくしはじめました。
At age 16, Edison began his life as a telegraph operator.

おれいを 言ったら - Would this literally translate to “saying thanks”?

Also, the very last part of the last sentence, 活やくしはじめました?
There is a lot going on and would love some clarification haha.

As always thank you!

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I translated most of the sentences like you did, just some minor differences.

verb-てみる is used to express „to try something out“, I therefore interpreted してみないか as „don’t you want to try to do this?“ It’s a bit like these invitations you might have learned where the negative form is used to ask if something is wanted, 一緒に食べませんか.


I think this is from 活躍する which means something like to play an active role. The stem of the する-verb is here combined with the auxiliary verb はじめる to say that the action began.


言ったら is the conditional form of 言う, so it means “if you say/name”. So literally I read the phrase as “what(ever) if you name a reward is good” or “Whatever you want in thanks is fine”.

EDIT - I read @buburoi’s reply, and I guess my answer doesn’t include the か at the end of the sentence. Maybe it’s better translating “What if thanking is good?” or “What can I do to thank you?”

かつやく is a noun mean activity that can act as a する verb meaning “ to participate actively; to play an active role”.

I initially thought the し was the stem form of する, but actually there is a verb しはじめる which means “to begin (doing)”.

So this is “he began doing an activity” - the activity itself then being described in detail just before it in the sentence.

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おれいをいう means to thank (or more literally to say thanks). たらいいですか is a phrase to express „Should I …?“ or „Would it be good if I …?“. なんと here seems to be best translated as how: How should I thank you? How can I thank you?

EDIT @Micki I think you might overcomplicate things a bit. なんとお礼を言ったらいいか and its variations are just common phrases to express your gratitude. I don’t think „What if thanking is good?“ really makes sense here. :v:

I’m not sure but I think it doesn’t make a difference. You will find some verbs like しはじめる and いきはじめる in the dictionary but I guess they are still just the verb stem combined with the auxiliary verb はじめる. :thinking:


Absolute heroes, thank you!


Ah if it’s a common phrase then all the better. It wasn’t a common phrase that I knew or an expression that came up on Jisho or ichi.moe. To be honest when I read it in the book I understood what it was trying to say, it was only here trying to explain the grammar that I tried to break it down.

In fact お礼を言う meaning “to thank” doesn’t seem to be on Jisho either. So I was really working from first principles :grinning:

Here’s a Japanese site with some suggestions of how Japanese people can say this phrase in English.


In this case you have to search for the expression omitting the honorific prefix. :v:



Thanks for that. I usually find in phrases like this that ichi.moe will spot the set expression hiding in the words you typed, better than Jisho will.

I looked again at ichi.moe and realised that the phrase I had copied and pasted into Jisho from this thread had a small space between お礼を and 言ったら (like in the book). When I remove this space ichi.moe now spots the expression 礼を言う and tells me it means to thank.

Another lesson learned in using Jisho and ichi.moe successfully!