Week 1: 狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf 🐺

Join the Advanced Book Club here!

狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf :wolf: Home Thread

Week 1

image

Start Date: Aug 27
Next Part: Week 2

Reading:

Week Start Date Chapter Start Page Page Count
Week 1 Aug 27 序幕 + Chapter 1 Start (until 小麦取引にこれ以上心強い味方もいないだろう。) 11 ~28

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarrassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
  • To you lurkers out there: Join the conversation, it’s fun! :durtle:

Participants

Mark your participation status by voting in this poll.
(Please feel free to update your status whenever you like!)

  • I’m reading along
  • I have finished this part
  • I’m planning to catch up later
  • I’m skipping this book

0 voters

5 Likes

I come to this book from a weird direction, since I’ve read the whole rest of the main series except for volume 1, as well as having watched the anime, which is why I skipped the first few volumes initially. (I will obviously avoid spoilers.)

Anyway, I liked the POV we get in the prologue and the atmosphere of it.

6 Likes

I’m enjoying the book a lot so far! I’m glad I joined! :blush:

(Thanks again @NicoleRauch for putting up the thread early so I can ask all my questions)

Some questions (including some dialect questions)

Literally about the opening of the prologue.

い表現だが、迷惑なものもあるのが玉にきずだな、と思った。

I honestly have no idea what this means… I looked up 玉に瑕 which seems to mean “small fault/flaw”, but that doesn’t really help.

ほう、わっちゃあわっち以外にホロと呼ばれる者を知らなんだ

Just checking on this one, but is 知らなんだ supposed to be 知らないんだ (知らないのだ)? Had to check because it didn’t quite line up with some of her other dialect.

わっちは神と呼ばれて長いことこの土地にしばられていたがよ、神なんてほど偉いもんじゃありんせん。

For 縛られていたがよ, the combination of が and よ is confusing me. I can’t tell if it’s the conjunctive が (“but” I guess) with the よ just added on for reasons, or if it’s the “が used instead of の in old Japanese” thing and it’s actually the explanatory の as a が. Or neither of those and I’m just completely lost.

そんなロレンスの思考をよそに、ホロは今まさに湯に浸かっているようなほんわかとした口調でそう言って、突然小さくくしゅんとくしゃみをした。

Is the second く in 小さくく a typo? Or looking more closely, maybe it’s just a made up word くしゅん for her sneeze? I don’t think I caught it was a sneeze at first because I misparsed the sentence (stupid long string of kana), so I guess that makes sense.

Other comments

馬屋の主人の中には若い行商人が荷馬を買う時、馬が人間になってもいいように雌の馬を買っておけ、なんて真顔で勧める者もいるくらいだ。

I thought this line (and whole section) was pretty funny.

Regarding difficulty, I actually found this pretty easy to read. The handful of Christianity terms were not something I was familiar with, so I had to look up pretty much all of them. And I certainly had to look up more words overall than usual. But the actual writing style I found very easy. I’m wondering if there will be an increase in difficulty with more Holo dialect or more business/economics vocabulary. I’ve nearly finished chapter 1 (I’ll stop after chapter 1 and stick with the schedule) and the dialect really wasn’t much of a hindrance. So either it’s the latter, or the rating on Natively is overstating the difficulty. Because right now it’s a 36, just like 薬屋のひとりごと, but this is significantly easier than 薬屋のひとりごと so far. It is harder than 本好きの下剋上 (level 31), but not by much (not to mention I’m used to 本好き and if I got more used to 狼と香辛料 who knows how I’d feel about the difficulty), so I feel like 狼と香辛料 is more like a 32-34 than a 36. I’ve also found Red Data Girl harder than 狼と香辛料 so far, for what that’s worth.

Dialect

Here are the dialect things I noticed for Holo:

  • おる = いる
  • とる = ておる
  • じゃ = だ (and same for じゃった・じゃろう)
  • わっち = わたし
  • わっちゃあ = わたしは (this one didn’t click for me, but after reading Alo’s analysis I think it’s right. This doesn’t appear to be used beyond these early pages though, at least in the first volume.)
  • ありんせん = ありません
  • かや = かな
8 Likes

Yeah, it’s a sneeze sound effect.

(I’ll come back and look at the other questions tomorrow morning if nobody else has got to them first.)

5 Likes

Maybe Holo means that it’s a fault (それさえなければ完全であるのに、ほんの少しの欠点があること) that she–a god, so prevalent she was portrayed in wolf metaphors in this village–is depicted as not just a god to be feared and respected, but a god/wolf that is blamed for poor crops and trampled wheat stalks. And now these sayings have become a jest amongst the villagers. So while she appreciates her recognition of her time spent in this village, it’s not all good and now a joke.

That’s what I thought, but it is quite confusing. What did other people think?

I checked the anime, and Holo doesn’t say the よ after が, so I think よ is an unusual emphasis placement. So I think it means “but” with extra fLAvour. :joy:

5 Likes

The parts before it set up the mythology of the folklore, so I think this part is the teaser that things aren’t quite the way that people believe them to be.

“That[1] is a fine story, but the problem is that there’s a small flaw in it, I think.”

Did Holo do this as a voiceover in the anime? Because in the text I think it’s just the omniscient narrator, unless there’s something later on that makes this more clear.


  1. the story of the wolf spirit’s role in the village ↩︎

5 Likes

Holo has not been introduced yet, so I presume this is some villager narrating?

First, we have all the metaphors introduced related to wolves. Some positive ones and some negative ones.
The narrator thinks: „The wolf metaphors are really good (うまい), but it’s too bad that there are some negative metaphors (迷惑なもの) as well.“

Translating 玉に瑕 as „too bad“ here. Basically, the うまさ of the metaphors is tainted by the fact that there are metaphors describing negative events as well is my take on it

7 Likes

My take: “Fine expressions, but the fly in the ointment is that some of them are for misfortunes, she thought.” We’ve already had example expressions covering both good stuff (wind in grain) and bad stuff (bad harvests); and the next sentence continues this idea of the people having a mixed view with 親しみと恐れ. The prologue is deliberately written a bit elliptically since it doesn’t want to come right out and say it’s from Horo’s POV as the harvest god. The general idea here is that being the harvest god isn’t just a “you help the crops grow and we worship you” sweet deal; you get blamed for bad things even if they’re not your fault.

8 Likes

In the text Horo is not literally narrating this bit, but it is following her POV in the same way that chapter 1 follows Laurence’s; and we get access to what she’s thinking with the と思った parts.

6 Likes

That’s how I interpret it, yes.

Definitely the ‘but’ が – “I was called a god […] but I’m not one”, effectively.

6 Likes

Ah ok, I didn’t quite catch that reading through it but yeah, the inner monologue gives it away.

4 Likes

The official English translation, being obliged to use pronouns (“she thought”, “she felt”, etc), can’t quite keep things as ambiguous as the original. (It also throws in a “for them” at one point which it really doesn’t need to and which I think resolves an unspoken-subject the wrong way. Oh well…)

Incidentally its version of the 玉に瑕 sentence is “It was a nice turn of phrase, but it had a troublesome aspect which flawed it, she felt.”. I prefer my interpretation :wink:

4 Likes

That’s a pretty bad, overly literal translation in my opinion.

3 Likes

そんないつものやり取りをかわし、山奥の村を出発したのはかれこれ五時間も前だ。

Doesn’t this mean, “It has been five hours since he’d exchanged his usual formalities (whatever you get the idea!), and left the village deep in the mountains.” ?? right??

But the light novel translation says: “The usual pleasantries concluded, Lawrence managed to leave the village just around five o’ clock.”

???

五時間 does not equal 五時. The translator has me spiraling and it’s the first page of Chapter ONE. It’s like I’ve been in love with what I thought was Mona Lisa and realized all I’ve looked at is a kid’s finger painting.

This translation. Is killing me.

Good news, I’m reading the real novel now.

8 Likes

Yeah, that’s a translation flub.

7 Likes

Aye, I think the dialogue is probably the worst part. It’s a passable translation at best, I suppose.

Haha, yup. That’s why I learned Japanese in the first place.

5 Likes

Well, that’s the first week down. This being my first ABC book, I was coming in a little unsure if I was going to be able to do this, but it feels surprisingly doable for me.

Holo’s dialect is a bit strange, for sure, but even if there are times that I can’t relate it one-to-one to a specific grammar point, I still feel like I understand what’s being said, so I’m not going to stress too much about it, I think. I can kinda hear the accent in my head a bit as I read, which I think is my favorite thing about the unique ways Japanese shows up in speech (when reading in English, I often don’t really “hear” voices, so to speak, they are all just words on a page, which so far hasn’t been the case with reading Japanese, and I love that!), and I find it a bit endearing, so I think that’ll help with not getting too frustrated with it. :joy:

It remains to be seen if I’ll be able to keep up with the pace of reading long-term, but since I inadvertently actually reached this week’s goal today (I expected to take longer to get there), that’s reassuring that maybe I will be able to; especially since I actually had to re-read sections that I read last night because my tired brain totally wiped out the last little bit I had read from my memory, and I initially had no idea what the heck was going on when I tried to pick up where I had left off. :joy:

Either way, Spice and Wolf has long been on a list of things I wanted to read/watch (I’m only aware of some things about it due to the sheer popularity), so I’m happy to be diving into it finally! So far, I don’t have any questions that I wasn’t able to find an answer to myself, but doubtless, that’ll change. :laughing:

Looking forward to continuing the book with everyone!

8 Likes
On reading difficulty

Sadly that matches the experience I had with a few other books as well, and that’s why I don’t like to rely on the Natively ratings any more :woman_shrugging:

Luckily 大聖堂 (and also Flesh&Blood) prepared me for these kinds of terms; the only new one (afair) was 異教徒 as the other books are strongly rooted in catholic stuff.

Luckily that was not the case for me - quite the opposite actually, for a change.
(My worst lookup quest was 300+ vocab in the first 10 pages of 大聖堂 - I would have dropped Spice&Wolf if it had turned out to be equally extreme tbh :cold_sweat:)

I checked the vocab list on jpdb because I was curious about that as well, but so far I didn’t find any spectacular economics vocabulary (I started blacklisting vocab in order of appearance as well as in order of frequency ascending as well as descending, but I neither found such words among the very frequent nor among the very infrequent words. Of course I haven’t finished searching the list so they may as well hide in the middle, but maybe this is just an urban legend after all :rofl:

4 Likes

Hopefully that improves as Natively gets more users, but it is a bit hit or miss right now. We need more book clubs so we can fix all the bad ratings. :joy:

3 Likes

Looking forward to your proposals! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

2 Likes