I'm happy with the purpose of と when it precedes verbs like 言う、聞く、思う etc. The following sentence puzzles me:


I understand that the man feels disappointed and wonders if the sparrow is alright, but I can't make a sensible translation. Did he say it while feeling disappointed, or did he say it in a disappointed manner? Please explain if this is a shorthand way of saying a longer expression or whether it is common to be able to quote feelings in Japanese.

Here's a slightly different one:


I know that と is used with sound effects (for want of a better word) so ちゅんちゅんちゅん needs it, but there's a whole sentence in quotes and it needs to be 'said' or 'asked' or 'thought'. It doesn't make sense for it to be 'looked around-ed'.

1 Answer 1


You can replace と with と思いながら or と思っていて etc if that helps structure them for you. Though I like the elegant ambiguity of not knowing for certain if he's thinking silently or thinking aloud.

I think there is some similarity in English though, when books use italics to represent thoughts without explicitly saying "he thought" or "she thought".

Edit, as requested, example translations:


Little sparrow, are you ok? worried the old man.

The old man felt miserable. Would the sparrow be all right?


Chun chun chun the old man searched, Snipped-tongue Sparrow, where are you?

Snipped-tongue Sparrow, where are you hiding? the old man searched. Here? Chun-chun. Here? Chun-chun. Or here? Chun-chun-chun

  • That's interesting. I can get used to the ambiguity, but I'm still having trouble with the linkage to the final verb. You've given two choices. ながら seems to fit the second sentence better and て seems to fit the first sentence better. Is it entirely my choice which one I think is implied? Out of interest, could you provide what you think are the best translations of these two sentences please? Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:45
  • I am not a translator and my personal leanings on the subject are not to translate very literally, but I will edit with an example.
    – jhenn
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:56
  • Very poetic. I'm rapidly coming round to the view that literal translations aren't very helpful but I'm not quite there yet. Commented May 28, 2015 at 17:16

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