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狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf Home Thread
Start Date: Sep 10
Previous Part: Week 2
Next Part: Week 4
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Well, that’s week 3 down. I am definitely doing a lot of vocabulary lookups, and I occasionally have to re-read some of the longer passages two or three times until it clicks, but overall, this is going fairly smoothly. At the very least, I feel like I understand the gist of what’s going on, and for my first book of this level, I’m content with that.
It’s totally possible I’m missing some nuance, but honestly, that’s something that I think will just be resolved with more time and reading, and coming back to some books after I’ve got more reading experience under my belt. Even in my native English, I will often miss certain nuances on the first pass of a book, so I figure I shouldn’t beat myself up too much if that happens in Japanese as well, right? I always end up re-reading certain series, anyway, and this book has the feel of one that I will definitely want to return to. It’s got an intriguing atmosphere to it, and I love the rapport between the two main characters.
My favorite expression I learned from the book this week has got to be 鵜呑み. It paints quite a vivid picture.
I did a double-take on this meaning:
茶目っ気 : playfulness
As my mind immediately went to brown-eyed (despite there being no 色). I was curious about the etymology so I searched
茶目っ気 語源 which gave me this response, explaining the 茶 takes the playful/absurd kind of meaning as in 茶利, 茶番. They also say:
Further searching suggests 無茶 as the origin (no tea = absurd!) which seems to make sense, but I’m failing to find an answer with at least a veneer of authority. If anyone has more insight on that I’d be curious to hear it.
So, economics. Did anybody understand 1: what exactly the 為替 system is and why it’s better than just “buy stuff, sell stuff”? 2: why the vineyard owner thought Laurence was going to have to go back to ヨーレンツ? That would make sense if Laurence was just doing delivery of somebody else’s goods (so in a naive system would need to return to his origin point with proof of delivery to get paid), and it does say 塩を仕入れてそれを納品し which might suggest that. But then on the next page it has 私がヨーレンツで塩を買った, suggesting Laurence bought it with his own funds, and if he bought the salt outright I don’t see why he’d need to go back later. I know it does say “this takes two weeks to get your head around”, but it also feels like the author cheated a bit by not actually explaining it at all…
I was so confused in chapter one because he had deadlines for money that he owes in other locations. I haven’t caught up on reading this week yet but I don’t understand how Lawrence does his merchanting.
This goes well beyond my understanding of finance, but I think it’s basically using some third party (banks maybe?) as an intermediary for actual exchange of money. (Maybe almost like credit? Jisho uses the translation “money order” which is not credit, but like a promise that you are good for some amount of money.) As to why it’s better, my guess is it’s mostly just safer. Sounds much easier to rob someone carrying a bunch of coins than to rob someone with bulky/heavy items like wheat or salt.
(I’m may be wrong or at least incomplete in some of these details. Like I said, it’s beyond my understanding of finance.)
So I have the Spice and Wolf guide book, which has the summaries and explanations of the economics side of each novel (nifty!). So I looked at volume one and behold! They have a short section on it. Does this help?
edit: Also the book that heavily influenced Hasekura was called Gold and Spices, a French book on Medieval commerce. Also mentioned in the Spice and Wolf guide.
Question on the beginning
- I’m tripped up on こそする I can’t find anything on it. I know こそ is emphasis by why throw する in. ものの means “but.” But all together it means, “indeed (こそ）they even greeted us WITHOUT looking displeased (wonderful!!)”?
The handy dandy translation says
“Unlike the monastery, the church survived on tithes from travelers and pilgrims who would stay the night and pray for a safe journey, so Lawrence and Holo were greeted warmly, without so much as a single fell glance.”
- Is it irony, like “Hey, nice, everyone’s cool here, unlike the monastery.” Or “Hey, everyone’s cool here, even though we have a woman here who has a wolf ears and a tail.”
And earlier in the book, Lawrence doesn’t have the best experience with monasteries as one of the guards hassles him. So I’m guessing it’s the former.
I looked up the grammar and ended up finding a Japanese Yahoo Answer being opened up with this exact sentence! And a bunch of people are like that makes no sense, because it’s normal to be greeted by a monastery or a church. But I think it’s a different circumstance presented in the book, so I think more context could have been provided and maybe it wouldn’t have been strange?
I took this to be in contrast to 突然の訪問にも , i.e. roughly “Even despite their sudden visit, they were greeted warmly” - basically because they are regarded as guests who bring money.
Incidentally, notice that the translation has switched who is doing the praying - in the original it is the church (who then collect a donation for that “service”), not the travellers.
Thanks! Right, that makes sense.