2

この寒さをしのげそうな防寒服を手渡され、それを着込みながら僕は彼女に質問した。

「君は……」

[名前なら、ないわ]

こちらから訊くより先に、低く呟くような声が返ってきた。

「呼びにくければアインと呼んで。 いつもそう呼ばれてたから」

質問の出鼻をくじかれ、次に訊くべき言葉が出てこない

My western brain doesn't know how to understand the bolded segment. It parsed the segment as 'particle-(次に)' 'verb-(訊く)' 'particle-(べき)' 'noun-(言葉)' 'particle-(が)' 'verb-(出てこない)'. I don't know if my parsing is correct or wrong, but I know that the following is true for parsing basic sentences.

Japanese: Subject/topic + object + verb

English: Subject + Verb + Object

Seeing as how there are two verbs in the Japanese segment, how do I understand what the verbs and particles are doing to form a coherent sentence?

4

Um, you know about Japanese relative clauses, right? If not, I have to say this novel is too difficult for you yet. When you see a verb before a noun, it usually means there is a relative clause involved, although there are a few exceptions.

The main clause of this sentence is:

言葉が出てこない。
Words will not come out. (i.e., I'm at a loss for words.)

This cannot be simpler.

So 次に訊くべき is a relative clause that modifies 言葉. 次に is not a particle but an adverb meaning "next". Note that particles cannot be at the beginning of a sentence. 訊く is "to ask". べき is an auxiliary verb that means "should" (see this).

次に訊くべき言葉が出てこない。
(literally) Words with which I should ask next will not come out.
I was at a loss for next words to ask a question.

(I used the past tense because this is an example of historical present.)

If べき is what threw you off, this べき can be dropped without largely changing the meaning in this case: 次に訊く言葉が出てこない。

  • Apparently I need to practice more with relative clauses in order to recognize them instantly (despite recognizing the phrase for the past three years). And yes, that べき was another thing that threw off my understanding of the sentence. Your answer really helped. – Toyu_Frey Aug 18 at 2:19

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