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The phrase "いと高き" occurs pretty frequently in the Japanese 新改訳 bible in the book of Daniel.

Doing a little sleuthing I'm also seeing いと低き and 素晴らしき as somewhat similar constructions. I get that いと means exceedingly as an adverb that modifies the adjective.

素晴らしき哉、人生

Gloria in excelsis Deo -> 天のいと高きところには神に栄光あれ

"Give me the lowest place" -> いと低き處(ところ)を給へかし (http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~megumi-c/sub1/sub2/Rossetti.htm)

  1. What is this conjugation called?
  2. How does this ーき conjugation work?
  3. Is the set of 形容詞 that receive it limited?
  4. Can the いと prefix only be used with this conjugation?
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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted
  1. 〜き is the classical form of the 連体形 of 形容詞. Sound changes caused き to turn into い for the modern 連体形 (and 終止形).
  2. 〜き works exactly like 〜い in modern Japanese, except it can't be at the end of sentences, it can only be in relative clauses: ○高き壁、x壁は高き
  3. No, any 形容詞 can end with 〜き in classical (or pseudo-classical) Japanese.
  4. いと is:
    • an adverb (副詞), not a prefix -- it can modify any adjective (in any conjugation) and any verb
    • archaic (いとも being the closest word used in modern Japanese), so it'd be unlikely to see it mixed with an 〜い ending (as opposed to classical endings 〜き, 〜し, etc.), but honestly there are no rules for creating pseudo-classical Japanese text, so someone could decide to use いと with 〜い if they felt that it gave the right feel to their text.

I would certainly not recommend using either the 〜き ending or いと yourself.

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