I found this sentence in a short story:


As far as I understand, the speaker - the viceprincipal of a school - due to a teacher complaining went to a classroom to check about an issue that teacher was having with the students, and found them with cactuses on their desk, to be studied as graduation project because they have supernatural abilities (「だって、サボテンには本当に超能力があるんです」).

I found that 「short past + ことにする」 means to act as something false were true, as confirmed also by this question; as far as I can tell, this is the translation:

It's unusual to hear a teacher say something like "What should I do?", right? Without doubt, since the kids want to people letting them [させてやりたい] do what they like, when the other teachers were complaining, I thought they were asking me to act for their sake [てくれ] as if I insigated the kids like before

but I'm not really sure, since it sounds odd, and I have some doubts:

  • 以前みたいに means "like before", like he already did something like that before? Alternatively it could mean "previously" as in the viceprincipal did that before the students brought the cactuses, but if that's the case I don't understand why the 「みたい」.

  • what about もんだ? I know it's used, after the dictionary form of a verb, to state something that's expected or a social norm; does it mean the other teachers are asking that like it was something expected from the viceprincipal?

  • is my understanding of 「そそのかしたことにする」 right? I can only think, if my translation is right, that the other teachers want the viceprincipal to act like the cactuses were an idea he gave to the studends, like to cover the fact that it was something the students want themselves to do, but I'm not really sure about this.


You have several mistakes parsing the second sentence.

As the start point, もんだ is the colloquial form of ものだ, which falls under the following usage in the dictionary.


Thus, the word should be translated like "as a matter of course that —". Meanwhile, てっきり is an adverb "doubtlessly", but particularly used when one has a false belief.


So, you see its function basically overlaps with もんだ and forms a seemingly redundant expression. Such kind of adverb is called 呼応の副詞 "adverb in concordance" in Japanese grammar, which has a certain practical significance, that it often signifies a start of encapsulated content, that will be closed by its counterpart. In this case:

I totally(1) assumed that(3) I was asked that(2): ⸻

The whole content inside is a reported speech, which is grammatically detached from the outer part.


[subject] wants to let children do what they like

You translated this part "the kids want to people letting them do what they like" (which would be 子供たちは(人に)好きなようにさせてほしい), but that is not possible, because 子供たち marked by に is the causee in this clause. Causation of intransitive verbs via command/instruction changes the marking of the original agent from が to に.

子供たち好きなようにさせる ← 子供たち好きなようにする

Your other questions struck me like you were distracted too much by the supernatural cactus. Although it's somewhat shocking, as I understand correctly, this passage as such has little connection with it. In general, Japanese teachers tend to be managerialistic that don't like children that don't listen to them or do weird things. I think what they are talking about is that this teacher vice-principal rather wants children to behave freely and might have sought support of the speaker before.

The full translation for your reference:

Edit: According to your new image, this is actually the teacher's line spoken to the vice-principal, which reads:

"'What should I do?' is such an unexpected word to hear from you. I totally assumed that you came to say that you liked to see children do as they like, then to ask me to act as if I put them up to do it just like before, when other teachers should make a fuss."

(The indirect speech part is continuous, but I couldn't find a nice way to reproduce it in English.)

Also, as a minor point, you translated 先生の口から as "a teacher say...", but this 先生 is almost certainly a pronoun that points to that specific person. So it should be "s/he" or at least "such a teacher".

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  • Thanks! I have some follow-up questions if you have time: 1) How can I understand that in 「僕はてっきり、子供たちには好きなようにさせてやりたいから」 the subject of「子供たちには好きなようにさせてやりたいから」 is 先生 and not 僕? 2) What in the japanese text gives the meaning of "such things like"? 3no) The "I" in "please act as if I put them up to do it just like before" is 先生 or 僕? I'd say 僕, since 「僕が」 marks the subject, but reading your translation I'm not sure. – Mauro Apr 19 at 13:04
  • Also, why 「ほかの先生どもがぎゃあぎゃあ言ったときには」 is "when other teachers should be complaining" and not "when the other teachers complained"? Seeing the past tense I thought it was something that already happened. – Mauro Apr 19 at 13:04
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    @Mauro (1) My point was that てっきり can only qualify a predicate that means one had a wrong belief, in this case the last 〜もんだと思っていた. So what in between てっきり and it is another layer of speech that the same subject doesn't necessarily govern. (2) It's ambiguous, but it needs to be the writer from the context. I may rewrite it clearer later. (3) In order to say the next thing happens after (=responding to) it, the previous clause must ends in 〜たとき, otherwise it'd have some weird implications like it's pure coincidence or they don't immediately take action. – broccoli facemask - cloth Apr 19 at 14:14
  • Rereading it again while studying your reply now I'm wondering if the speaker it's not the viceprincipal, but the person he's speaking to; not sure how much this change the meaning, I uploaded the page for reference, sorry if I misread it before: imgur.com/a/DR5HSXs – Mauro Apr 19 at 19:09
  • @Mauro Okay, it doesn't affect the grammar, but the background changes a lot and the translation needs to change accordingly. – broccoli facemask - cloth Apr 20 at 3:18

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