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I was at a Japanese restaurant called 星岡 (ほしがおか). And I was trying to figure out what the does in it.

I instinctively translated it to "Starry hill" (Not sure of my translation though).

(Question) What does do in this case? Or is it simply 名乗り and I shouldn't think too much into it.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your speculation seen in the title is correct. is the archaic genitive case particle. You can still observe this form in fixed expressions such as 我が (わが) 'my'.

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So according to modern formation rules, it would be 星の岡 instead? And also is "starry hill" a good translation? –  Flaw Sep 17 '11 at 14:33
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@Flaw Yes and yes. But it might be a name of a place. –  sawa Sep 17 '11 at 14:39
    
I don't think it's fair to characterise が and の as having switched roles in modern Japanese compared to Old Japanese. It would be better to say that their meanings overlapped significantly. At any rate, the subject of the main clause is unmarked in Old Japanese, so it is difficult to say that there was any nominative case particle at all. See Shibatani [Languages of Japan, pp 347–357]. –  Zhen Lin Sep 17 '11 at 17:18
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That's not really the point, though; the issue is that が and の didn't switch as such. In OJ they were both basically genitive particles (with differences in use, e.g. が for human subjects) that could also be used to mark subjects in certain conditions. Here's a MYS poem showing genitive の (identical to MJ), and が marking a subject: はしたての倉橋川の川の静菅我が刈りて笠にも編まぬ川の静菅. –  Matt Sep 17 '11 at 20:43
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If が was for humans, than why does 星岡 have one? Or 自由が丘 for that matter? Different time period and usage? –  Claytonian Sep 19 '11 at 8:45
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