A sentence from 五輪書:


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, to be used when the 連体形 is to modify a 助動詞.

Here はなれざる modifies 故{ゆえ}, which is a noun. From the answer on 知恵袋, it seems that ~ざる is complementary, to be used when ぬ doesn't work, but here はなれぬ故 does work. Why did the author choose ~ざる? Does one have a free choice between ~ぬ and ~ざる? Is the choice characteristic of a particular time period?

  • Time period < Speaker gender, context & degree of negation.
    – user4032
    Feb 18 '14 at 2:59
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    I am also curious about the difference between 〜き and 〜かる and if it's the same as 〜ぬ and 〜ざる. I had always assumed there was just no difference (except perhaps emphasis due to explicitly having ある in it). Mar 2 '14 at 2:54
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    The best answer on 知恵袋 says ぬなり is not used. But there are ぬなり examples in classical Buddhism document kohgetsuji.justhpbs.jp/genjokoan.html
    – user4688
    Mar 2 '14 at 12:49

(I'm not a native speaker, nor am I a linguist.)

It seems to me that, both ぬ and ざる are used, but there is a difference. They are used for different writing styles. ぬ is used in 和文 while ざる is used in 漢文, as well as constructions borrowed from 漢文. I think that's why ざる appears much more frequently in that passage.

And also, ざる is used to conjugate ず because ず is uninflectable. The same goes for かり adjective. かり and かる are only reserved for conjugation use. You don't use かり to end a sentence or connect two, nor do you use かる to modify a noun.

多かり seems to be an exception, used to avoid the ambiguity of おほし. Similarly, 大きなり is used for the same purpose.

In fact, I wonder if ざる was really used in spoken language when Chinese canons were introduced in Japanese. In fact, it seems to me that the Japanese ancients tended to choose or create expressions that are archaic and stilted even then to render the ancient Chinese counterparts.

As I don't have enough reputation to add a comment, I just write them here.

@snailplane: They will not be confused. They should be はなれ 故 and はなれ ぬる 故 respectively.

~ぬなり is indeed ambiguous though, but the ambiguity mainly comes from なり. It may either means ~したという or ~ないのだ. So is ~ざるなり, which can mean ~しないのだ or ~しないという.

  • The 和文/漢文 part is so important and that is exactly why I said "speaker gender and context" in my comment a long time go. In the old days, men were so much more educated than women and they read and quoted from Chinese literature much more often than women did.
    – user4032
    Mar 6 '14 at 8:21

I view ざる as old Japanese(from before the Yedo era) but ぬ can be used in today's Japanese as well as in the old. In old Japanese, ざる is interchangeable with ぬ, both have the same level of colloquiality. In today's Japanese, I feel ない more common than ぬ.

はなれざる故か/はなれぬ故か oldest - はなれぬためか a little old - はなれないためだろうか nowadays

For き and かる, き indicates past tense in old Japanese( today's counterpart is た or した). かる has many means with different Kanji characters - 離る go far apart, 狩る hunt, 借る borrow, 駆る make something (e.g. a horse or a dog) run.

  • thanks virmaior
  • I was talking about the 〜き and ~かる used with 形容詞: 「多かる涙」 vs 「多き涙」. I mentioned it because it is the exact same underlying morpheme difference as with 〜ぬ and 〜ざる: 連体形 vs 連用形+「ある」の連体形 Mar 2 '14 at 17:17

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