What is the meaning of 母を恋はずや in the film title?

Edit: the meaning of "恋う" according to the dictionary is "romantic love" as in "koi suru". E.g. http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/srch/all/%E6%81%8B%E3%81%86/m1u/ says "特定の異性に心ひかれて、その人を思い慕う。また、特別な人物や場所などを強く慕う。恋する。" So my query is partly about the grammar but also why it is 母を恋する. I can't believe it is some kind of incestuous relationship.

2 Answers 2


Dono already explained the grammar. I will try to explain why 母を恋う does not describe an incestuous relationship.

Although the meanings of 恋う and 恋する have some overlap, 恋う is broader and it does not necessarily refer to a romantic emotion, unlike 恋する or 恋をする. Daijirin is clearer on this:


1 (動ワ五[ハ四])


妻―・ふ鹿の音〔出典: 松の葉〕

2 (動ハ上二)

[1] 人、特に異性を恋する。ほれる。 …
[2] 慕わしく思う。 …
[3] (ある場所や物を)懐かしく思う。 …




By the way, in modern Japanese, verb 恋う is rare except in compound words such as 恋い慕う and 恋い焦がれる, and [恋]{こい}しく思う is more common. 恋しい as in 恋しく思う also has the broader meaning which is not necessarily related to a romantic emotion.

  • 母: mother
  • を: grammar, marks a direct object
  • 恋はず: the verb 恋ふ in classical spelling. In modern Japanese, this is 恋う. (kop-u > koɸ-u > ko[w]-u > ko-u). Conjugated to こは (modern こわ) so that the negative suffix -zu can attach. "not love"
  • や: grammar, interrogative particle asking a question. Often rhetorical.

Should one not love a mother? (=Yes, one should love a mother.)

  • 1
    It does not contain the meaning of “should.” Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 13:30
  • 1
    @Tsuyoshi Ito How are you interpreting "should"? There is no べき of course, but there are other meanings. In asking a rhetorical question (such as ~ないだろうか), I think it is appropriate as a translation. It could be changed to "Does one not love a mother?", but this sounds odd. Or "Is one not to love a mother?" which is better, but then you could say that the passive meaning is not included either. Translation is always a delicate balance and more than just literal word-by-word.
    – Dono
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 20:29
  • @TsuyoshiIto: The name of the movie in English is "A Mother Should Be Loved" reference.
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 20:30
  • @Tsuyoshi Ito I have not seen the movie, but I note that it is given the English title "A Mother Should be Loved": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mother_Should_be_Loved . Apparently others thought "should" is appropriate, too.
    – Dono
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 20:31
  • A little question, on wikipedia, the romanization is "Haha o kowazuya". Why is the は is pronounced as わ in kowazuya (according to wikipedia)?
    – xTCx
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 21:29

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