4

Following Mindful suggestion here, I'm opening this question following that one: in there, Mindful explained that the main difference between 「つぶやく」 and 「ささやく」 is that, I quote:

you want 囁く when you are talking about whispering something to someone. 呟く on the other hand is also often translated as mumble or mutter, English words which better express the idea that the thing being said is not intended to be heard by anyone but the speaker

My doubt arises from short stories I'm reading, in which 「つぶやく」 is used when a character is speaking with another, seemingly with the intention of being heard, and the other characters seems to hear it:

彼女が困ったように視線を地面に走らせながら、

「あの、家まで送ってくれない?こんな遅くまで働いたことはなかったから」と小さな声でつぶやいた

「ああ、そうかー」

僕はアルバイトのシフトに入るとき、彼女が必ず「早番」の時間帯を選ぶことを思い出した。

In this case the girl is asking the protagonist to walk her home, and it doesn't seem she doesn't want to be heard; the character does hear her.

So I was wondering: does this have any implications about the speaker not wanting to be heard, or 「つぶやく」 can just be used to speak to others?

Edit: a little more context: as far as I can understand the only relationship between them is professional, both work at the same restaurant; a little later on she says that she always asks for early shifts because she is afraid of the night (夜がー怖いから), but that day she had to stay untile late, so the request to be walked home seems to be honest, not just a front to keep the relationship. Here's the page: https://imgur.com/t4SW9JN.

  • 1
    I recently noticed a similar usage in 『妊娠カレンダー』, by 小川洋, in a scene where the narrator is sitting at a table with her pregnant sister: 「どんな赤ん坊が生まれてくるか、楽しみね」(new paragraph) わたしがつぶやくと、姉はほんの一瞬手を止めてゆっくりまばたきし、何も答えずまた食べ始める。In fact, both women are deeply ambivalent about the pregnancy, and the narrator is saying (or "murmuring") this to needle her sister in a passive-aggressive way. She wants her to hear it, but she also wants to pretend (or sort of pretend) she is just talking to herself. This also allows the sister to refrain from responding overtly. 呟く seems the perfect verb for this situation. – Nanigashi May 10 at 17:20
4

「つぶやく」 can just be used to speak to others

I would say this is the answer of you.

However, "つぶやく" certainly has a meaning to speak to oneself. It's like the speaker doesn't matter if someone hear what he/she says or not.
This may be the key to get mind of the girl. She asked him but these lines of dialogue were not articulated clearly. She wouldn't matter if the request is rejected, or even if it's not heard by him. She carefully and indirectly asked to keep current relation with him(Japanese-style?).
This is my impression after reading the text.

By the way, if you use "ささやく" in this context, the story would drastically be changed!!! I believe most of Japanese think the girl is tempting him!!!

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks; not sure if this matters, but as far as I can understand the only relationship between them is professional, both work at the same restaurant; a little later on she says that she always asks for early shifts because she is afraid of the night (夜がー怖いから), but that day she had to stay untile late, so the request to be walked home seems to be honest, not just a front to keep the relationship. – Mauro May 10 at 9:12
  • Thanks for clarifying! In that cases I also sense modesty in the girl probably because we generally don't expect certain responses or reactions in "つぶやく" action. – Mitsutoshi Watanabe May 10 at 10:33
  • 1
    This is my impression. I never sense 'she almost doesn't want' but 'she may not matter.' I feel kind of afraid of being rejected or ignored from this "つぶやく" usage. That's because even if he ignored the request, she could understand he didn't hear that. So this may be one technique of implicit or euphemism. She actually wants him to hear her but doesn't want him to hate her by the (difficult?) request. – Mitsutoshi Watanabe May 10 at 11:53
  • 1
    However, as you wondered, "家まで送ってくれない?" sounds a little explicit. So I think it's a little mismatched with "つぶやく" behavior. If I were to the author, I would write like this. 「あの、家まで送ってくれないかな...。こんな遅くまで働いたことはなかったから」と小さな声でつぶやいた。Last "かな..." sounds precisely as "つぶやき". – Mitsutoshi Watanabe May 10 at 11:58
  • 1
    Thanks for posting this thoughtful and helpful answer to Mauro's question; I've wondered about similar usages of 呟く that I have encountered, so I have been watching this question with great interest. One small point of English vocabulary: Although "serif" is an English word, it actually doesn't have anything to do with the Japanese word 台詞(せりふ). Instead of "the serif was not articulated," you could say "these lines of dialogue were not articulated clearly." – Nanigashi May 10 at 16:57
0

I think the answer lies in the sentence leading up, 困ったように視線を地面に走らせながら, she's not even looking at him. Just my feeling that maybe she's embarrased about having to ask or being afraid of nighttime, so she asks as though whispering to herself, like having to force the words out almost. Or even that the guy might get the wrong idea if she makes such a request so she's hesitant.

| improve this answer | |
  • I uploaded the page here, hope it helps: imgur.com/t4SW9JN; I'm not sure if this is right, but from the answers and from the situation I get the feeling that maybe she wants to be walked home, but she almost doesn't want him to hear her request, kind of a mixed feeling. – Mauro May 10 at 11:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.