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Could somebody explain the origin of あしからず , as found in the following expressions?

今回はお断りしますが,どうぞあしからず| This time I have to say no, I hope you don't mind.

・・ですが、 悪しからず。| I'm sorry but.....

パーティーに伺えませんがあしからず| I'm sorry, but I can't come to the party.

The kanji is 悪しからず so it is something similar to 悪いけど/すみませんが/This is not very good but.... But, what is the verb and where does it really come from?

[Bonus question: What is the kanji and literal meaning of すみません?]

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

[Answer has been edited to incorporate comments.]

asikarazu is the negative form of the adjective asii, not a verb. That being the case, adjectives acquire much of their conjugation via suffixation of the verb ar-. This is asiku + arazu, and the u drops. arazu is the verb ar- in irrealis + negative -zu.

Another example of this construction would be 必ず ie 仮 + ならず which also fits this 形容動詞 + ならず pattern

[Bonus question: What is the kanji and literal meaning of すみません?]

I answered this recently. Please check the comments. 

(Note: When used to apologize, sum-i-mas-e-n means "(I have done something rude to you, and my feelings) are not at rest". When used to be thankful, the sense is "(I am unable to return the favor, and my feelings) are not at rest". It was not my intention to say that all sumimasen is a contraction for ki ga sumanai / sumimasen. Phonologically that is not very likely. Rather, grammatically, a single adjective or verb can be a complete sentence. Many things are not said when unneeded. As such, I was filling in the missing blanks to assist with compression. If it helps to interpret asikarazu, think of it as 気を悪くしないで or 悪く思わないで. )

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How productive is this からず conjugation? Theoretically all adjectives can do this right? –  Flaw Nov 2 '12 at 11:09
    
@Dono: Thanks. This helps but could you help with one last piece: あしい is clear and I can see the conjugation is あしくあらず=>あしからず. I also see in the dictionary that the kanji for あらず are 有らず・非ず, so the complete expression means something along the lines of "not bad". This feels close to すみません, which as you recently explained is a contraction of 気が済まない but isn't あしくあらず going to be the contraction of a longer phrase? –  Tim Nov 2 '12 at 11:51
    
@Flaw All regular adjectives can. 形容動詞 becomes -narazu. (Note though that nar- too is ni + ar-, so it is the same verb mentioned above.) –  Dono Nov 2 '12 at 11:55
    
@Tim It was not my intention to say that all sumimasen is a contraction for ki ga sumanai / sumimasen. Phonologically that is not very likely. Rather, grammatically, a single adjective or verb can be a complete sentence. Many things are not said when unneeded. As such, I was filling in the missing blanks to assist with compression. If it helps to interpret asikarazu, think of it as 気を悪くしないで or 悪く思わないで. –  Dono Nov 2 '12 at 12:06
    
@Dono: Ok, gotcha,thanks. If I may now pick up Flaw's point, are there any other common examples of [adj]ーならず? –  Tim Nov 2 '12 at 13:55
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