(Translated by https://www.hiragana.jp/)
Reading Practice: the Dead Parrot Sketch in Japanese | nihonshock

Reading Practice: the Dead Parrot Sketch in Japanese

Month Python’s dead parrot sketch. It’s deservingly one of the most famous sketches in all comedy, in which John Cleese (Mr. Praline) attempts to return a dead parrot to a stubborn pet shop owner. I hope we’ve all had the opportunity to watch it and have laughed until our eyes watered and our stomachs hurt (if you haven’t, watch it now!).

Recently, I came across a translation of the dead parrot sketch in Japanese, and was so pleased with it that I decided to try to make it available and accessible to Japanese learners. The translation is very smooth and natural, so consider this a fun exercise in understanding “real” Japanese and translations that, although accurate, are often far from literal. I hope you’ll also find it a refreshing departure from your textbook dialogues.

I’ve added a large number of tool tips to the sketch below, so if you don’t understand something, try hovering over it with your mouse. :-) If you’ve got a question on something not explained in a tooltip, please comment and let me know. I’ll try to either answer directly or add tooltips where necessary.

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Mr. Praline: 失礼しつれい、ちょっといたいことがあるんだが…。ちょっと、おじょうさん。
Hello, I wish to register a complaint. Hello, Miss?

Shopkeeper:じょうさんって、どういう意味いみどういう意味いみ: what is meant BY something. Many learners would say なん意味いみ, but that would be asking the literal meaning of the word おじょうさん
What’cha mean, “miss”?

P: ああ、失敬しっけいliterally: ”(I was) rude.” But without です or しました following it, we get the feeling the apology is slightly superficial.風邪かぜをひいてしまってねThis TE form isn't a command. It's the continuous form, so grammatically speaking the sentence is incomplete. The logical completion of the sentence has already been said: 失敬しっけいわたし苦情くじょういにたんだ。
I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint.

S: すみませんが、昼休ひるやすみなもんで[Noun + なもんで: ”because it's...”] - The shopkeeper has omitted ”please come back another time”. Also note that な here is a form of だ/です
Sorry, we’re closing for lunch.

P: にするな。まだ30ふんもたっていないとおもうが、さきほど貴店きてんきてん : is an honorary prefix/kanji. The speaker could have said このみせ or あなたのみせ, but the keigo term 貴店きてん helps convey the speaker’s sarcasm.からオウムを購入こうにゅうした。そのオウムのことでひとこといたい。
Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot that I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

S: ああ、ノルウェイジャン・ブルーね。なにか、まずいまずい is an adjective you might not find in your textbook. It can mean ”bad” (of either food or a turn of events), ”awkward” or ”poor quality” ことでも?The speaker has omitted the verb ある from this sentence.
Oh yes, the Norwegian blue. What’s wrong with it?

P:まずいことがあったから、こうしていにてるんだ”I'll tell you what's...” doesn't work when translated literally, so the sentence is changed to something like ”(of course) there's a problem, that's why I came to say it.”オウムオウム means parrot. The kanji is 鸚鵡おうむ, in case you want to impress someone.んでる。これが、その「まずいこと」だ。
I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s dead. That’s what’s wrong with it.

S: なにうんですか、やすんでるんですよ。
No, no. It’s resting. Look.

P: いいかねThis expression is like saying ”look here” or ”got it”, with a very authoritative tone.。このオウムがんでいることは、ればかる。いまだって”even now”. Note that this だって is similar in meaning to でも.らんとお”exactly as you see”だ。
Look my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one and I’m looking at one right now.

S: だからちがいますって。んでません。やすんでるんです。
No, no. He’s not dead. He’s resting.

P: やすんでる?

S: そうですともとも at the end of a sentence indicates a rather polite-sounding affirmation, intended to show the speaker’s unequivocalness. It is used when replying to a confirmation or clarification question.。ノルウェイジャン・ブルーはめずらしいとりでしてね。この羽根はね羽根はね (はね): ”feathers”. はね by itself is also read はね, but people tend to interpret just to mean ”wing”. It’s merely a tendency, though. Both 羽根ばね and can mean either feathers or wing. つばさ (つばさ) can only mean ”wing”.うつくしいことったら…とったら(ない) is an advanced (JLPT N2-N1) exclamation, used for emphasis. ”There’s no words to express the beauty of the plumage.”
Yeah. Remarkable bird, the Norwegian blue. Beautiful plumage, idn’t it?

P: 羽根はねのことをってるんじゃない。このオウムは、完全かんぜんんでいる。
The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

S: いいえ、ねむっているだけです。
No, no. It’s resting.

P: そうか。ねむっているなら、こそうじゃないか。オハヨー、オウムちゃん。お々をましたら、おいしいイカイカ is squid. The (rarely-used) kanji is 烏賊いか, in case you were interested.をあげますよ~。オウムのポリーちゃん~。
Alright then. If it’s resting, I’ll wake it up. Hello Polly! I got a nice cup of fish for you when you wake up, Polly Parrot.

S: ほら、うごいた。
There, it moved.

P: オウムじゃない。あんたあんた is a slightly condescending term for ”you”. We can clearly see that Mr. Praline is upset with the shopkeeper now.とりかごをしたんじゃないか。
No he didn’t, that was you pushing the cage.

S:してませんさなかった or しませんでした would not work here. The simple past tense implies that some conditions were in place and ~ had a possibility of occurring. していません is a flat-out denial, much better suited to responding to accusations. Note also that this TE-いる is different from the progressive (~ing) form. Literally: ”(I am) not in the state which results from pushing.”
I did not.

P: いいや、した。オハヨ~、ポリーちゃん~。オウムのポリーちゃん~、おこっきしましょうねぇ。ポリーちゃん~。これをんだオウムわずして、なんI really like this expression. ”What would you call it if not...”. It’s kind of a set phrase.
Yes you did. Hello, Polly! Poooollyyyy! Polly parrot, wake up! Poooolly! Now that’s what I call a dead parrot.

S: いいえ、気絶きぜつ”きぜつ: knocked out/unconscious”したんですよ。
No, no. It’s stunned.

P:あのなあのな is very similar to いいかね above, taking an authoritative ”look here, now” tone. It's possible to say あのな or あのね non-authoritatively, but you have to be extremely careful about context and your intonation.んでることはいまので”with/from (what happened) just now” (いま、ここでせたことで)、じゅうぶんかっただろ。このオウムはあきらかに死亡しぼうしてるの。わたしがさっきいにたとき、オウムがうごかないのは、しゃべつづけてクタクタにつかれてるからだってThis だって is different from the one above (the one similar in meaning to でも). This is the verb だ, plus the quoting marker って (= と).保証ほしょうしたじゃないか。
Look my lad, I’ve had just about enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased. And when I bought it not half an hour ago, you assured me that its lack of movement was due to it being tired and shagged out after a long squall.

S: フィヨルドがこいしい~がこいしい: to miss/long for ~のかも。
He’s probably pining for the fjords.

P: フィヨルドがこいしいだと?なんだそりゃ。だったら、いえいたとたん~TA+途端とたん(とたん): just when/after ~、オウムが仰向あおむあおむけ: laying flat and facing upward.になってゆかちたのは、どう説明せつめいしてくれるHow will you explain this to me?
Pining for the fjords? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat on its back the moment I got it home?

S: ノルウェイジャン・ブルーは仰向あおむけでるのがきなんですよ。きれいなとりでしょ。それに見事みごと羽根はね
The Norwegian blue prefers keeping on its back. It’s a beautiful bird, lovely plumage…

P: 失礼しつれい承知しょうち”while knowing that it was discourteous (to you)”, this is how ”took the liberty to...” got translated.調しらべさせてもらったがね、どうしてオウムが最初さいしょにいたまりperchにずっとっていられたのか、かったよ。理由りゆうひとつ、オウムがまり釘付くぎづけされてた釘付くぎづけ is treated as a noun here, so the されてた is a conjugation of する, not of ける. The speaker could also have said 釘付くぎづけられた, which would be using くぎける (a verb).からだ。
Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot, and I discovered that the only reason it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been nailed there.

S: そんなの、たりまえじゃないですか。そうでもしなけりゃ、しがらみこじけてこじあける: to wrench open、ブーンとんでっちまう。
Well of course he was nailed there otherwise he’d have muscled up through those bars and voom!

P: いいかね、このオウムに4000ボルトの電気でんきかけたってThis usage of ~TAって appears only in spoken Japanese, and is equivalent to ~TEも. (かけても)ぶわけがない。これは、かんぺきにご臨終りんじゅうなの。
Look matey, this parrot wouldn’t “voom” if I put 4000 volts through it. It’s bleeding demised.

S: いやいや、こいしいんです。
It’s not. It’s, it’s pining.

P: ホームシックなんかじゃない~なんかじゃない: it’s not anything like ~ (used for a sweeping negation)くなりになったくなりになる: an honorific way of saying ”to die”んだ。このオウムは、このったhas left this worldの。事切こときれてことぎれる: ”things have cut off/ended”, this word isn't any dictionary I could find, but the meaning is clear from context.しまった。いきhas taken back his breathかみ御許おもとGod's (かみの) honorable () underneath (もと), but ”underneath” is not meant literally. かみ御許おもと is ”a place near God”かれたく (いく): it’s the verb く, but 逝 is used when the destination is the afterlife.。これは「こ : a prefix used before names of people to indicate that the person is deceased.オウム」。死体したいA corpse/cadaver/dead bodyいのちきてきる (つきる): to be used up, all gone永遠えいえんねむりについてる”has fallen into eternal sleep.” I personally would have gone with やすらかにねむっている since it's a translation of ”rests in peace”釘付くぎづけされてなきゃ、今頃いまごろひなきくひなぎく : daisyいっぱいのはかおはか: graveしたおねんねねんね is a ”cute” word for sleeping. Maybe a little like ”Nappy time”. Putting お before it is unusual and helps show that the speaker is using the word sarcastically.してたはずなんだ。オウムはその生涯しょうがいまくhas closed the curtains on life. その is not necessary here, but using it portrays the parrot and the parrot’s life as two separate entities.昇天しょうてんしょうてん: ascended to heavenなされたなさる is an honorific equivalent to する, again the speaker is using keigo to convey sarcasm. Using the passive ~Aれる is also a keigo form, and grammatically speaking you’re not supposed to put it on a word that’s already keigo in nature, but many Japanese still do.の。これは「もともと: ”ex-” prefix, as in ex-girlfriend/boyfriend.オウム」。
It’s not pining, it’s passed on. This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot. It’s a stiff. Berift of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s flung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This! is an ex-parrot.

S: かりましたよ、おえしましょ。
Well, I’d better replace it, then.

P: このくになにおうとおもったら、性根しょうこんてるまでしょうねつきはてるまで: until your perseverance has reached it’s limit文句もんくはめになる~はめになる: an advanced expression (JLPT N2-N1), indicating some result that the speaker is dissatisfied with.
If you want to get anything done in this country, you’ve got to complain until you’re blue in the mouth.

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Okay, I’ll stop there. Hope you enjoyed that and please do comment with any questions you have! :-)

Posted under Language & Study by Nihonshock.

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