The line 「殺しはせん。」 is said by a character in anime.

What is せん here (I assume it's somehow related to negative form of する)?

Plain negative (I'm not killing you)? Volitional neg. (I'm not intending to kill you (like the せん in (せんとする))? Potential (like in せねば…)? Is the ん some auxiliary verb or part of する conjugation?

Something else?

  • 1
    – Yang Muye
    May 22 '15 at 14:43

せん(=せぬ) is the classical version of しない, 'do not'.

せ = the imperfective form (未然形) of the verb す, 'do' (す = classical version of する)
ん = the negative auxiliary << derived from the classical negative ず

殺しはせん(連用形「殺し」 + particle は(= here it can be like 'at least') + verb せ + negative ん) is the classical way of saying 殺しはしない, 'I'm not killing / I'm not going to kill (you/someone)'

  • 1
    I think what's missing from this post is noting that, even though せん is derived from the Classical Japanese せぬ, it's frequently used in modern Japanese in a variety of dialects and well as informally across Japan. (I'm not familiar with so many dialects, but in 九州弁 for example せん is almost a drop-in replacement for しない, like せんでいい = しなくていい, etc.)
    – Earthliŋ
    May 22 '15 at 17:06

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