Could someone please explain what function the 落ち着いて is serving in the below? What is its subject?

One character is musing out loud about the recent murders (it's a mystery manga) and she just observed that the birds in a bird cage are restless and the nest seems to be upended.



"The canary parents (not that you'd ever say that in English) are really flailing about wildly. Everyone's on edge because of this case. The birds aren't even warming their eggs."

I really don't see how the 落ち着いて fits in the sentence (assuming of course I didn't make a critical error in the translation) at all. It doesn't seem to be simultaneous/sequential action, state, cause, or means and definitely not a command.

I have two other less important (and somewhat unrelated) questions about the above as well that I figured I'd ask here. I'd be happy to ask them separately if told.

  1. I believe that there are two causes listed in the above (~続いて、~したから). If that is a correct interpretation, do these causes have an order? In other words, is 「こんな事件が続いて」 the cause of 「みんなピリピリした」 or are they both causes of 「卵もあっためられない」?

  2. Is it clear what form あっためられない is in? It seems to me that both 受け身 (passive) and 可能形 (potential) could work and I was wondering if context made it clear. Further, though I'm not sure if the distinction exists in Japanese, JSL classes teach that there are both direct and indirect passives. Is it clear which is used here (I assumed indirect)?

1 Answer 1


落ち着いて is performing the function of an adverb here, modifying あっためられない, i.e. settle + cannot warm.

First, あっためられない is the potential form of あっためる in the negative - "cannot warm (their eggs)". And 落ち着いて means "be calm and..." or "be settled and ..." in this case. Together with the も in 卵も, you get something like "they can't even settle enough to warm their eggs".

Note: あっためる is an informal version of あたためる

  • Thank you for your answer. Is there some hint in the sentence that causes あたためられない to be potential rather than passive? I agree that potential is better of course. I'm just curious.
    – G-Cam
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 13:16
  • 1
    yes. 落ち着いて is active, it is pointing to the birds as the doer of the action. so あっためられない is not passive. in other words, the context tells you its an active sentence
    – kandyman
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 22:34

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