Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Are there any other verbs than 死ぬ whose plain forms end with ぬ? Why are they so rare? Is it because the verb 死ぬ itself has special etymology why it ended up having the ぬ ending?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

As Axioplase has indicated, the verb 死ぬ was originally a n-stem irregular verb (ナ行変格活用動詞). There was only one other such verb, namely 去ぬ. It survives in modern standard Japanese in derived forms such as 古 (いにしえ, from the stem of 去ぬ + the stem of the past tense auxiliary き + the particle へ). It is also thought that the noun 西 is derived from 去ぬ. (The main evidence for this, as I understand it, are Ryūkyū languages in which /nisi/ means north instead of west, indicating a migration from the mainland spreading southwards into the Ryūkyū islands and eastward into Honshū.)

There are also auxiliary verbs which end in -ぬ, the most well known of which is the negative verb. It survives in modern Japanese as the -ん in -ません. (-ず is another form of this auxiliary.) The other one, which does not survive into modern Japanese, is the perfect auxiliary -ぬ, also derived from 去ぬ.

share|improve this answer
2  
The most well-known example of the past auxiliary -ぬ to the contemporary Japanese people may be 風と共に去りぬ (かぜとともにさりぬ), the Japanese translation of the title of the famous novel/movie “Gone with the Wind.” –  Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 3 '11 at 11:36
3  
Calling ぬ the past auxiliary -- are you guys trying to start a nerd fight? ;) –  Matt Aug 3 '11 at 12:48
    
@Matt: I always have trouble stating the grammatical terms in English (even after I received answers to my question). I meant 完了の助動詞「ぬ」, and I do not know what it is usually called in English. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 3 '11 at 12:54
    
@Matt: Oops. I have trouble remembering which ones are perfect and which ones are past. (Modern Japanese is much easier, huh.) –  Zhen Lin Aug 3 '11 at 12:55
2  
@Tsuyoshi: Yeah, normally 完了 is translated as "perfect(ive)", but it is easy to slip up when discussing past/perfect -- last I heard there was still disagreement on exactly how to deal with these concepts even in the case of modern Japanese. (Like, does た express the perfect aspect, or just the relative past with an implication of perfect aspect if aspect is not addressed in some other way? That sort of thing.) –  Matt Aug 3 '11 at 13:12
show 2 more comments

Tough one!

I think that 去ぬ/往ぬ (いぬ) is the only other such verb, and is not standard Japanese. It survived in dialects only, according to http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ナ行変格活用

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.