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I found this adjective from 7!!'s song 「ラヴァーズ」(Lovers):


Dictionary entries categorises 無邪気 as a noun and な-adjective.

For reference, I shall extract parts from two different stanzas in the song. They share the same rhythmic structure and melody:

君は今 涙流した








Observations: The parts in bold both are 5 syllables and both end in る

Conjecture: The songwriter used 無邪気なる to be more poetic and lyrical. (Because without "る" it just "would not fit")

I understand that present day な-adj results from なる-adj which in turn results from classical Japanese's なり copula, and some なる-adjectives (like 単なる) survived.

(Question) Can we produce なる-adjectives by "regressing" な-adjectives? Are there any guidelines that prevents or allows us to produce なる-adjectives?

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Your conjecture is very likely, and your understanding about -なる and -な is correct. It would be strange to use な-adjectives as なる-adjectives except in poems and lyrics. (Not sure this should be posted as an answer.) –  Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 4 '11 at 13:55
Questions like this make me love this group :-). –  Kage Sep 8 '11 at 22:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The answer to your question is simple.

We have this grammar in a lot of Japanese Christian prayers. For example we say:

王なる神様、this means Our God King 聖なる神様、our Holy God

Now there are some words that can be used with the なる form and some that can only use the な form

きれいなる女 is incorrect because the adjective きれい can not take the なる form.

There is no real way to tell which words can take the naru and which take na only but most cases the なる form can only be used with the おんよみ (chinese reading) of a single kanji, like the two examples I gave you.

The funny thing is that 無邪気can both be used as 無邪気な or 無邪気なる

the なるform is mostly used in songs or prayers or old Japanese more often, never used in conversation.

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Btw is it true that naru can only be attached to "foreign" words, so the reason きれい cannot accept "naru" is because it isn't foreign enough to be considered a "foreign" word? –  Pacerier May 9 '12 at 11:02

I think you are right. The -なる form is the attributive form of nari-adjectives in Classical Japanese.

We have many idioms and quotes in Classical Japanese like

健全なる精神は健全なる肉体に宿る # -なる: attributive form of nari-adjective  
好きこそものの上手なれ           # -なれ: imperative form of nari-adjective

Poems (especially Haiku and Tanka) are sometimes written in CJ. And CJ is used even the title of a game, e.g. 「汝は人狼なりや?」.

Attributive forms of some nari-adjectives and tari-adjectives in CJ are frequently used in both literature and conversation, for example 広大なる, 偉大なる, 錚々たる, 堂々たる, and so on.

I think nari-adjectives which are less used today, e.g. 綺麗なる, 自然なる, &c., and back-forming nari-adjectives from na-adjectives is accepted, and it sounds a little old-fashioned or like you're speaking with an accent.

Almost all nari-adjectives in CJ become na-adjectives in Modern Japanese, and tari-adjectives become verbs suffixed with とする.

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