Apologies for the lack of puzzle the last two weeks. Here’s the answer to the previous puzzle, which you can find here.
When all the teachers gave their self-introductions at the welcome party, they gave all the basic information – where they’re from, what school they were teaching at previously – along with some other interesting tidbit. One of my JTEs added that she had three boys and would be taking a lot of time off – finally, a realistic teacher – and the other boasted that he had never once been ill.
Another of the new teachers joked that he got called names because he is heavy; then he added that he is trying to diet and that he “nearly weighs 0.1 kilograms” – yup, he’s nearly made the scale go one full circle.
Here is last week’s sentence, that teacher’s interesting tidbit, written normally: 「まもなく０．１キロになるところです。」
The key part of the phrase this week is the ending – 〜ところです。This phrase is incredibly useful to help explain to someone what you are doing, going to do, or just did. ところ is often translated as “place” or “location,” but in this case it also has a definite time aspect to it. My professor used to refer to it as a “moment of space-time.”
There are three different ways to use ところです.
Let’s use a specific verb so that it’s clearer:
食べるところです。 I am about to eat.
食べているところです。 I am eating.
食べたところです。 I just ate.
So ところ is used to describe the space-time moment that you currently occupy. Depending on the conjugation of the verb in front of it, you are about to do something, currently doing something, or just having done something.
This is an especially useful way to communicate the fact that you are currently occupied with something.
今運転しているところですが。 I’m driving at the moment…
今料理を作っているところですが。 I’m cooking at the moment…
今寝るところですが。 I’m about to go to sleep…
(In Japanese people often add ですが onto the end of a sentence to soften the blow of whatever they just said. It only sort of means “but,” so I translated it as the ellipsis on the end of those sentences. It’s implied that you are currently doing whatever you are doing and therefore unable to do whatever is requested of you.)
This teacher? He said, “I am very shortly going to weigh 0.1 kilograms.”
まもなく is a time-based adverb that means “soon” or “shortly.” You’ll hear it a lot while waiting on train platforms. I translated it in the above sentence as “very shortly.”
れいてんいち in Japanese is the way that they say 0.1. It’s the same as in English: zero (れい) point (てん) one (いち).
The Japanese literally means, “become 0.1 kilograms,” but I put it into the more natural “weigh” in English.
So, while this guy hasn’t gone full circle just yet, he’s off in Okinawa for the school trip, probably snacking it up with the other teachers. When he’s back, I’m sure he will be able to say, 「０．１キロになったところです。」 – “I just hit 0.1 kilograms.”
Robin was so close with a few of his guesses, but his official answer ("One of the party games involved attaching a radio transmitter to a tanuki and placing bets on how far it would go. The teacher was informing everyone that it was about to hit the 0.1 kilometer mark") is disqualified for implied mistreatment of tanuki. So no winner this week.