文語(古文). The classical literary form of the language based on Early Middle Japanese.

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13
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2answers
584 views

Haphazard usage of katakana and hiragana for particles and okurigana

I'm looking at this picture of the 日米和親条約 (Kanagawa convention) from the late Edo period and it seems rather strange: It looks like the non-kanji parts are rather haphazardly written in katakana ...
13
votes
1answer
261 views

Old way of counting people?

I always found it funny how the counter for people, 人, has the special cases [一人]{ひとり}, [二人]{ふたり}, but then continues [三人]{さんにん}, [四人]{よにん}, ... However, this summer I came across a neat bit of info. ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

What form is あり?

On the road outside my daughter's nursery is painted 保育園アリ. I guess this is a form of ある, but what's it called, and why is あり used not ある?
12
votes
1answer
893 views

Use of kana iteration marks (ゝ, ゞ, ヽ, ヾ)

Kana iteration marks are are rarely used today, and hence there is not much online information on it besides this Wikipedia article, which leaves me with a couple questions. Is there any kana that ...
10
votes
2answers
265 views

Why was 邪 chosen to spell the names of 伊邪那岐神 and 伊邪那美神 in the 古事記?

I had been wondering about this for a while. Consider the spelling of he names of Izanagi and Izanami in the 古事記: 伊邪那岐神【いざなぎのかみ】 and (妹【いも】)伊邪那美神【いざなみのかみ】 (source) Both of their names ...
10
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2answers
382 views

Why do 為る【する】 and 為す【なす】 use the same kanji as 為【ため】?

Why do the verbs 為る【する】 and 為す【なす】 ("to do") use the same kanji as 為【ため】 ("because of", "for the sake of", etc.)? I'm not seeing any obvious connection between the meanings of する・なす and ため that would ...
10
votes
1answer
662 views

Did standalone noun “好き” mean a person in classical Japanese?

In classical Japanese, did standalone noun “好き” mean a person who likes something? I do not think that it does in modern Japanese, although it sometimes means a person when used as a suffix (e.g. ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Recognizing old Japanese handwriting

Can you please help me with recognizing this line in old Japanese handwriting? As I suppose, this is: ? やき ? っすれ ? の二 but it's most likely that I am wrong
9
votes
2answers
516 views

Mora count for 思ふ in Classical Japanese?

During an analysis I was performing of the poems contained in the 古今集 I noticed a curious pattern. Otherwise perfectly-formed poems included in the collection seemed to ignore the morae-count on a ...
9
votes
1answer
516 views

What old Japanese texts can be used in the same fashion as the latin “Lorem Ipsum”?

"Lorem Ipsum" is used as a place holder when creating designs or formatting media that will have actual text and functionality. Question I would like to know what the Japanese equivalent is of this ...
8
votes
1answer
317 views

Does the verb 死ぬ has a 死ぬる form?

I have come across a conjugation of 死ぬ verb which I've never heard before. It is 死ぬる, I have heard it in a TV show, you can see the relevant part in this video. Is this a depreciated form? If so, ...
8
votes
2answers
107 views

What is しか here?

[至誠]{しせい}に[悖]{もと}る[勿]{な}かりしか [言行]{げんこう}に[恥]{は}づる[勿]{な}かりしか... What part of speech is it? Wiki translates it as 真心に反する点はなかったか, which going by meaning only fits with 2(連語) here, but I couldn't find ...
8
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2answers
449 views

Difference between ~ざる and ~ぬ

A sentence from 五輪書: おのづから道の器用有りて、天理をはなれざる故か。 I found a question about ~ざる and ~ぬ on 知恵袋. The only answer claims that ~ぬ and ~ざる are both the 連体形 of ~ず and ~ざる is a "complementary" conjugation, ...
8
votes
1answer
325 views

“Irregular” 命令形 of some verbs

Recently I've noticed several verbs where the imperative form is used in a way that is not the "correct" conjugation. くれる → くれ! → The one we're all used to つける → つけ! → An example from my ...
7
votes
1answer
963 views

Etymology of transitive/intransitive verb pairs

Many verbs come in pairs, frequently but not always transitive/intransitive pairs. These verbs generally have multiple okurigana characters, but according to my dictionary one of the pair was formerly ...
7
votes
3answers
260 views

When ない becomes ぬ

Does anyone know what to call the outdated, high form of language which will say for example "ならぬ" rather than "ならない" or more accurately "だめだ"? Specifically, I would like to know if there is a name ...
7
votes
1answer
810 views

Why do Japanese people read Classical Japanese with a set of weird sound shifts?

I'm learning a bit of Classical Japanese recently, and of course the spelling of words is pretty different, due to sound changes over the centuries. For example, きょう was spelled けふ. That I can ...
6
votes
2answers
165 views

Help for this expression: 猿は人間に毛が[三筋]{みすじ}足らぬ

I read this expression in a text. It seems to be an old proverb about monkeys. But I am not sure about its meaning. Why 筋, for instance? Does it mean muscle? reasoning faculty? Why would they be ...
6
votes
2answers
244 views

What the grammar/syntax of 御来駕被成下度奉懇願候?

Dictionary translation is "I beg you will favour me with your company―I request the pleasure of your company." 御来駕被成下度奉懇願候 I can only surmise about ご来駕 noun 懇願候 verb (ask), sourou being a polite ...
6
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1answer
244 views

How wrong is my constructed poem?

I tried writing a classical Japanese poem: 赤き空 青かりたり根 夢がごとし 元を返るべし 汚さざらまし And here is a rough literal translation: The red sky, The origin that was once blue, Like seeing a dream, It would be best ...
6
votes
2answers
545 views

Do Japanese study classical Chinese? [closed]

Kinda out-of-topic. I know that old Japanese books are written in Classical Chinese (or Written Chinese), like 日本書紀/Nihon Shoki. As I have known, Chinese people learn Classical Chinese quite well and ...
6
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2answers
205 views

不被下候: When was it common, and what were the rules?

In a shrine graffito written in 1559, two carpenters complain: 其時座主ハ大キナコスデオチヤリテ一度モ焼酎ヲ不被下候 'At that time, the high priest (stingy bugger!) gave us not even a drop of shochu to drink.' The form ...
6
votes
2answers
566 views

What function did あり perform in classical Japanese 形容詞?

In classical Japanese, many uses of 形容詞{けいようし} had あり "embedded" in them, e.g.: 熱からず = 「熱し」の連用形+「あり」の未然形{みぜんけい}+「ず」 熱かりたり = 「熱し」の連用形+「あり」の連用形{れんようけい}+「たり」 熱かれ = 「熱し」の連用形+「あり」の命令形{めいれいけい} 熱かる人 = 「熱し」...
6
votes
1answer
143 views

What is the explanation for the archaic attributive particle が becoming a modern subject particle?

While reading though Haruo Shirane’s Classical Japanese: A Grammar, I came across the following passage: が started as an attributive case particle, became a subject particle, and then turned into ...
5
votes
1answer
163 views

Why is an anachronistic modern conjugation thrown into the lyrics of 軍艦行進曲?

軍艦行進曲 seems to be written mostly using Classical Japanese grammar. Here's the first stanza: 守るも攻むるも黒鐵{くろがね}の 浮かべる城{しろ}ぞ頼{たの}みなる 浮かべるその城{しろ}日{ひ}の本{もと}の 皇國{みくに}の四方{よも}を守{まも}るべし ...
5
votes
2answers
174 views

Couple of classical Japanese questions

I found a poem by Nagai Kafu entitled 震災 (The Earthquake) in a volume of Japanese prose and poetry. It's a short poem about the Ansei Edo Earthquake (安政江戸地震) in 1855 which destroyed the red light ...
5
votes
1answer
202 views

What does the ぬ in 詰まぬ mean?

I encountered a Shogi saying: 三桂あって詰まぬこと無し And I'm pretty confused about the ぬ there. If it was る I'd expect the meaning to be something like: "If you have 3 knights, you can't be mated" But ...
5
votes
1answer
318 views

What is the difference between 美しき and 麗しき?

What is the difference between 美しき and 麗しき and what is the difference between 美しい and 美しき? I know that both 美しい女性 and 美しき女性 are correct. But what is the difference between these two?
4
votes
1answer
188 views

Apparent reversals of conjugation patterns in classical 形容詞 and 動詞, origin?

We observe the following peculiar apparent relations between the conjugation patterns of 形容詞 and 動詞 (using 赤し and 行く as examples): 連体形: 赤き / 行きし (past recollective) 終止形: 赤し / 行きき (past recollective) ...
4
votes
1answer
60 views

What is the ki used for in this sentence? 懐かし き 故郷 [duplicate]

I'm translating a song as part of a project. What is ki used for? Is it a prefix for kokyou? Natsukashi ki kokyou 晴天の日の少々、感傷に浸る午後 懐かしき故郷 夢見な理想郷 忘れがちな嘘 あるまじきEmotion 企みし今生の消せぬ怨霊の炎
4
votes
1answer
453 views

What's this -れり ending?

I'm really a 初心者 when it comes to Classical Japanese, and I guess that is what I have here... 一日の苦労は一日にて足れり. 【聖】 Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Please, can someone tell me what ...
4
votes
1answer
210 views

Translating 鳴神の少し響みてさし曇り… etc

This passage of the movie, Kotonoha No Niwa: 鳴る神の 少し響みてさし曇り 雨も降らぬか きみを留めむ Several sites translate as: A faint clap of thunder, clouded skies. Perhaps rain will come. If so, ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

「の」followed by 「…なき」

In the lyrics of a song by Utada Hikaru I came across two lines (starting from 0:40) saying: 開いたばかりの花が散るのを 見ていた木立の遣る瀬無きかな My questions: How to explain the 「の」 in the second line? I ...
4
votes
1answer
70 views

形容詞 that end in ~しい but were not シク活用 in 古文

I know that in general, if a 形容詞 in modern Japanese ends in ~しい, then it was originally a シク活用形容詞, with 終止形 ~し and 連體形 ~しき. I also know that in the Late Middle Japanese period, シク adjectives ...
4
votes
1answer
200 views

Differences between なし and あらず?

At some point in history, ない replaced *あらない as the negative of ある, at least in the Kantō dialect (Kansai seems to have あらへん; あらん is also apparently attested in some dialects). When did this happen? ...
4
votes
1answer
142 views

How is を used here?

この大作の完成を願えども余命とぼしきを如何せん。I had hoped to finish writing this novel, but I'm afraid I have little time left. 貧窮なるを如何せん。I am poor, so what can I do? In the sentences above is ヲ used as a ...
3
votes
2answers
142 views

What is the meaning of 幾里?

I took up a personal translation project--lyrics to a song from a game I played--recently, and one of the words is giving me trouble. The line out of the song is 我れ幾里の路を共に往かむ, and I can understand ...
3
votes
1answer
293 views

Grammar of (verb)し(noun) such as in 選ばれし者

Is there a grammatical explanation for this pattern, which I have seen a couple times in writing? I'm guessing it comes from classical grammar.
3
votes
1answer
183 views

Does the たり in Modern Japanese come from the Classical たり?

For example, in the sentence 飲んだり食べたりした. Does this たり have anything to do with the -(i)tari ending in Classical Japanese that meant the present progressive (and later semantically shifted to past, and ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

The origins of なんだ as in 飲まなんだ or せなんだ

Even here in Osaka I don't hear it very often among anyone even remotely young, but where does this come from originally? Does anyone have a reference on hand? If I myself had to guess from what I ...
3
votes
3answers
458 views

Do 形容詞 have a 未然形 in Classical Japanese?

I was reading Eiríkr Útlendi's answer about -い vs. -き in 形容詞 and noticed that he identified -く as the 未然形 of 形容詞. When I studied classical Japanese, though, I was taught that 形容詞 lack a 未然形 (and also ...
3
votes
1answer
154 views

Hyakunin Isshu pronunciation; ちはやふる vs. ちはやぶる?

In the Hyakunin Isshu, the 17th poem (found here) has me stumped. In the manga/anime ちはやふる, the title is written and pronounced as ちはやふる, but on the card for the game the manga revolved around (also ...
3
votes
2answers
123 views

The meaning of 二条大宮の百鬼夜行

早い話が堀川のお邸の御規模を拝見致しましても、壮大と申しませうか、豪放と申しませうか、到底私どもの凡慮には及ばない、思ひ切つた所があるやうでございます。中にはまた、そこを色々とあげつらつて大殿様の御性行を始皇帝や煬帝に比べるものもございますが、それは諺に云ふ群盲の象を撫でるやうなものでもございませうか。あの方の御思召は、決してそのやうに御自分ばかり、栄耀栄華をなさらうと申すのではございません。...
3
votes
1answer
108 views

What is せる followed by suru-verbs?

専売特許に違背せる物品 infringements on patents 和英字書を編集せるはヘボン博士をもって嚆矢とす。Dr. Hepburn was the first to compile a Japanese-English dictionary. Is it する・す mizenkei followed by り rentaikei (here), or something ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

How are the adjectives conjugated to izenkei (うれしけれ, たのしけれ) used here?

I came across a "Mermaid's song" in a text: ものみな眠るさ夜なかに 水底を離るることぞうれしけれ。 水のおもてを頭もて、 波立て遊ぶぞたのしけれ。 澄める大気をふるわせて、 互に高く呼びかわし 緑なす濡れ髪うちふるい、 乾かし遊ぶぞたのしけれ! The bolded adjectives, うれし(い)、たのし(い)...
3
votes
1answer
223 views

Auxiliary verb ん

I came across this sentence in a grammar book (Japanese Postpositions: Theory and Practice by Noriko Katsuki-Pestemer): 生きんが為に働く。 In order to live, I work. It is then briefly explained that ...
3
votes
1answer
417 views

Casual speech particles in Classical Japanese

I'm writing a simple Japanese skit for our JAPAN 112R class and there is a place where an ancient samurai needs to speak a few sentences of Classical Japanese. I can mostly make the sentences, but it ...
2
votes
3answers
401 views

Why does the 文語 version of the Bible have so many nonstandard readings?

For example in Genesis 1: 元始{はじめ}に神{かみ} 天地{てんち}を創造{つくり}たまへり Why are the kanji 元始 and 創造 given the interesting readings? Moreover, they seem to be given the readings of the less specific words 始め ...
2
votes
2answers
206 views

Why is する considered irregular?

Yes, this sounds like a really confusing question. But I suddenly realized that する seemed to be a perfectly regular 上二段活用 (kami nidan; upper bigrade) verb with a stem of s-: 未然形: し (as in しない) 連用形: し ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Help with understanding a sentence

詩の生命は暗示にして単なる事象の説明には非ず。かの筆にも言語にも言ひ尽し難き情趣の限なき振動のうちに幽かなる心霊の欷歔をたづね、縹渺たる音楽の愉楽に憧がれて自己観想の悲哀に誇る、これわが象徴の本旨に非ずや。されば我らは神秘を尚び... full Is it (syntax-wise) correct to take(...