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大男は、チリチリに縮んだポテトチップの空き袋が転がっているの、火の気のない暖炉に目をやると、フンと鼻を鳴らしながら、暖炉に覆いかぶさるようにして何やら始めた。

I'm really struggling to parse/understand this sentence. Let's simplify:

大男は、袋が転がっているの、火の気のない暖炉に目をやると、暖炉に覆いかぶさるようにして何やら始めた。

My question concerns 暖炉に覆いかぶさるようにして何やら始めた. My initial TL was "he made sure to hang over the fireplace and for some reason started". Started what?

Maybe 何やら just means 'something' and 何やら始めた is 'started to do something'. Questions:

  1. Are 何やら始めた and なにか始めた equivalent in this sentence?
  2. Is there any good reason to choose 何やら?
  3. Would add the verb 'to do' be redundant and/or ungrammatical e.g. なにか/何やら し/やり はじめた?

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I can think of two differences between 何やら and 何か.

  • 何やら is always an adverb. 何か works as both an adverb and a noun.
  • 何やら always indicates that the speaker is wondering what it is. 何か is just "something," so it can also be used 1) when the speaker knows what it is but doesn't want to (or doesn't see the need to) reveal it, or 2) when the speaker thinks anything is okay.

For example, "He's eating something" can be translated either as 彼は何かを食べている or 彼は何やら食べている, but the latter has a stronger sense of the observer's wondering. "I want something to eat" is 何か食べるもの, but not 何やら食べるもの. "If you win, I'll give you (a certain) something" is (とある)何かを差し上げます, but not 何やら差し上げます.

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  • Excellent, thanks. Could I trouble you to comment on part 3? Would し始めた/やり始めた be weird? The former certainly looks weird. Mar 12, 2023 at 14:12
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    @user3856370 Sorry, I fogot to mention that. 何やら始めた and 何やらし始めた/何やらやり始めた are interchangeable here ("started something" vs "started doing something").
    – naruto
    Mar 13, 2023 at 2:06

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