In a book I'm reading I found this sentence:


I understand it, "I feel there was a children toy which made sounds when you walked, like me"; the character is a robot which hears a sound in her head when she moves around, so that meaning does make sense, but I can't understand why that に after おもちゃ.

As context for what comes next, the character is working in a junkyard with no children around.

I tried looking up meaning for に, like on Jisho, and 6 ("as (i.e. in the role of)​") could make sense, but I'm not sure that's the case, nor I'm sure how to insert it in my translation: what would be in the role of a toy? From the sentence it seems that the character is saying that the toy made a sound when the children walked, like her is doing now, not that her herself is in some way "in the role of" a toy - there are not even children where she is.

Beside that meaning, I have no idea what that に could mean; I understand something has to be between おもちゃ and 僕, I'm not sure why に.


1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking it may be 比較・割合の基準や、比較の対象を表す。. It shows the realm of things (= a type of toys) when the speaker thinks of things similar to himself (僕のような).

But I think you can consider the に in the sentence as a generalized version of the most common use, that is the places where actions are taken. In the sentence of the question, it is not a physical place, but a category of toys in the speaker's mind.

For example the following (with 場所の「に」) has almost the same structure:

  • 新宿にそういう店があった気がする : I vaguely remember that in Shinjuku there was a shop like that.


A few notes:

  • the subject of 歩く is 玩具
  • 僕みたいな = 僕みたいな玩具

A(n awkward) translation would be

I feel that among those children's toys that make sounds when they walk there was a toy like me.

  • How do you understand that the subject of 歩く is 玩具 and not a generic person using the toy? And how would the sentence be different if it were to say "I feel like there was a toy that made a sound when the person using it walked"?
    – Mauro
    Aug 8, 2021 at 8:39
  • 2
    Primarily because the speaker is a robot which is a walking object. It depends on the context, but I've never seen a toy which makes sound when a person holding it walks.
    – sundowner
    Aug 8, 2021 at 9:38
  • @Mauro the literal translation would basically be "a children's toy which, when walking, sounds came out". Even in English, I think, most people would interpret this to mean that the toy was the one walking, partly because it is natural to assume that the two related actions of walking and emitting noises were performed by the same subject, unless otherwise specified. If one wanted to say it emitted noise when someone else was walking, I think it would be necessary to mention the "someone else" (人が, or some such) explicitly.
    – Foogod
    Aug 10, 2021 at 19:15

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