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I'm having trouble understanding the grammar in some sentences even if I understand the basic idea of the sentence. I may post with more questions later.

幸夫の横で、あんぐりと口もひらき、逃げようともせず、ただぼんやりしている叔父にしても、今、眼の前に起こっていることが信じられないにちがいなかった。

The part I'm having the most trouble with is this:

あんぐりと口もひらき、逃げようともせず、ただぼんやりしている叔父にしても

I get that ただぼんやりしている is modifying 叔父 and I've found definitions for all the words separately but I'm not making much sense of them together.

I understand that 叔父's mouth is hanging open but I have no idea what's going on grammatically in あんぐりと口もひらき.

I understand Volitional + ともせず means something along the lines of "without even.." but if you know of a good way to break it down and understand what each bit is doing and why it's there, that would help me a lot.

Even just links to explanations of the grammar would be helpful. I'm sorry my questions are so vague. If I knew how to be more specific, I would.

For context..

中生代にさかえ、今はもうほろびて、地球上にはいないとされている恐竜が―。その恐竜が、今、幸夫たちの眼の前へ、網走湾の海底から立ちあがったのである。そして、それは、海岸めがけて歩いてくるのだ。幸夫たちの方へ、近づいてくるのだ。

幸夫には信じられなかった。幸夫の横で、あんぐりと口もひらき、逃げようともせず、ただぼんやりしている叔父にしても、今、眼の前に起こっていることが信じられないにちがいなかった。

ふたりとも、何も考えられなかった。頭の中が、からっぽになったようだった。

恐竜は、短い前足を胸のあたりにだらりとさげ、あと肢だけで歩きながら、砂浜にあがってきた。からだの大きさは十メートルもあるだろうか。眼を赤く光らせ、からだ中から水をしたたらせながら、その恐竜は、幸夫たちの乗っている車の前を、通りすぎていこうとした。

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this might be of help as a reference for the pattern:(sorry, you have to copy and paste the whole link) eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=ようともせず&ref=sa –  yadokari Dec 4 '12 at 23:18
    
Volitional + ともせず looks like a form of Volitional + と + する. In this case, する is inflected to negative (せず, similar to しない). も is also inserted. Does this sound right? Something like "without even trying to run" is my guess. –  snailboat Dec 4 '12 at 23:28
    
Thank you for the link! It should be helpful. :) –  Jellybean Dec 4 '12 at 23:35
    
Looks right.. も would be the "even" bit.. and there's no particular reason for using と? –  Jellybean Dec 4 '12 at 23:43
2  
I will attempt to answer this question if no one else does, but can you supply the preceding and succeeding sentences so we can have more context to the quote? –  yadokari Dec 5 '12 at 0:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Here is my attempt at an answer. First I will try a natural translation that is unfaithful to the grammar, but hopefully retains the meaning.

幸夫の横で、あんぐりと口もひらき、逃げようともせず、ただぼんやりしている叔父にしても、 今、眼の前に起こっていることが信じられないにちがいなかった。

Beside Yukio was his uncle. He stood with his mouth agape, dazed in confusion, not even trying to run and unable to believe what was now before his eyes.

The following is my attempt to explain your misunderstanding. As my knowledge is surely flawed, if anyone would like to correct my mistakes, please do so.

幸夫の横で、

Beside Yukio

あんぐりと口もひらき、

"あんぐりと口を開けて" is a set phrase meaning "someone with one's mouth agape (in surprise)." I do not know what あんぐり literally means. ひらき is the "noun form" of 開く--for instance, think of のみ being the "noun form" of 飲む. This verb form is used in the middle of sentences, especially when you are stringing together a bunch of concepts, as this example does. (this explanation sucks, sorry)

Here are examples of this type of pattern:

http://eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=飲み、

One example:

この10年間、私は日本の空気を吸い、日本の水を飲み、日本の米を食べて生きてきた。そして私は変わった。 During the years of breathing its air, drinking its water and eating its food, I've changed.

逃げようともせず、

Without even trying to run.
Volitional + ともせず is a form of Volitional + と + する (which means to try to do). In this case, する is inflected to negative (せず, similar to しない) (thanks snailplane). も can mean "even", and せず is "without". せず is more common in written language.

ただぼんやりしている叔父にしても、

Uncle, just(ただ) in a daze...

I am not sure what にしても is doing here; perhaps it seperates the description of the uncle from what comes next.

今、眼の前に起こっていることが信じられないにちがいなかった。

Now, what was happening before his/their eyes...they/he were surely unable to believe.

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Thank you so much! I'm sorry it took me so long.. I was studying for my Japanese final. I didn't realize あんぐりと口もひらき was a set phrase.. any idea why the と is there? My best guess is that it's meant to make あんぐり an adverb (modifying 開く?). It's helpful to know I was understanding the sentence correctly. :) Thanks for answering. –  Jellybean Dec 5 '12 at 19:59
    
You're welcome. hopefully someone will explain あんぐり. If we understand あんぐり we will understand the と better. I am waiting to see how many mistakes I made, hopefully they will be pointed out. what book is this from? –  yadokari Dec 5 '12 at 20:03
    
It's a reading we were given in class called ここに恐竜あり。 I'm not sure who wrote it, but every other page says くたばれPTA at the top. If you're interested, I can send it to you as a PDF or a word document. Also, I found あんぐり on jisho.org as "open-mouthed" which seems to fit with the phrase.. it seems redundant, but maybe it adds some nuance? –  Jellybean Dec 5 '12 at 20:25
    
I posted a very similar question on lang-8 asking for help.. here's the response I got: あんぐりは「おどろいたり,あきれたりしたときに,口が開いたままになる」様子のことです。 辞書で調べると,次のように説明されています。 あきれたり驚いたりして無意識に口を大きくあけたさま。 この言葉は,書き言葉で使われることはありますが,普通の会話ではあまり使わないと思います。 –  Jellybean Dec 5 '12 at 20:37
    
yes I don't understand why the phrase seems to have two ways of saying the same thing. –  yadokari Dec 5 '12 at 20:52

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