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What does 徒花と咲いて散っていくきみに mean ? At first, I thought it means “To you and a fruitless flower”, but later I saw the lyrics translating to “To you, who bloomed and fell away as a fruitless flower”

So, the translation makes me think this と means something like として、徒花のように, but I’ve never seen と is used in this way.

If possible, please explain it to me in easy English. Thanks a lot.

https://youtu.be/zuoVd2QNxJo?si=5JkfWfGi_8JkKrE1 The song.

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2 Answers 2

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This is a rare, old and literary usage of と for resultant state. A representative example of this type of と is a set phrase 露と消える ("to vanish like dew", "to disappear without a trace"). So "bloomed and fell away as a fruitless flower" is a correct literal interpretation. 徒花と散る implies that something ends up being a complete waste.

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  • Truly comprehensive explanation and references. I genuinely appreciate it. 🙇‍♂️🙇
    – Kyuu
    Dec 2, 2023 at 14:13
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None of the references actually explain this properly. To understand this usage, which is literary, some background is necessary. Classical Japanese has two copulas, にある and とある, which were redued to なる and たる, and these two copulas were used to form two types of 形容動詞, なり活用 and たり活用.

The modern な adjectives derive from the なり活用の形容動詞 (形動なり), for example,

静かなる ➞ 静かな
遥かなる ➞ 遥かな

They are formed largely (but not exclusively) from native Japanese words, as above, and you will still encounter the older forms in written Japanese, and songs, where some kind of elegant, literary flavour is sought.

The たり活用の形容動詞 (形動たり) have only survived in literary Japanese, but occasionally may be heard:

興味深々たるものがある 'There are things full of interest.'

純然たる片田舎で 'in a really (purely/unadulterated) out-of-the-way place'

and they are largely formed from two-character compounds.

Now, 形動なり, and thus な-adjectives, are adverbialized by changing な to に:

静かに暮らしている

while 形動たり are adverbialized with と:

二人は身をかくそうともしないで、通りの真中を堂々と歩いていった 'The pair of them, with no attempt at concealment, walked boldy along the middle of the road.'

(Compare: 夜中にほえている声から判断すると相当体躯の大きな堂々たる犬らしい)

It is also possible to make these 形動たり sound less formal by substituting とする for とある:

堂々とした風采の人 'An imposing person.'

これだけの死者を行政はどう思っているのかと暗澹たる気分になる One gets gloomy, wondering what the government thinks of this many deaths.

この暢気な連中をどうやって守るかを考えると暗澹とした気分になった When I considered how I was to protect a carefree crowd like this, I felt gloomy.

To finally answer your question, the writer has adverbialized 徒花たる, yielding 徒花と.

'As' is an accurate translation of と in these instances.

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