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この大作の完成を願えども余命とぼしき如何せん。I had hoped to finish writing this novel, but I'm afraid I have little time left.

貧窮なる如何せん。I am poor, so what can I do?

In the sentences above is ヲ used as a conjunctive particle (㊁1 here) or case particle (with an implied nominalizer)? (Sentences and translations are taken from a dictionary)

  • At least you understand that the nominalizer こと was not necessary in old Japanese, right? I feel these sentences can be interpreted in both ways, but I'm not sure. – naruto Sep 20 '15 at 15:13
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(もっと詳しい人もいると思うので、この回答は参考程度にお願いします…)

Short Answer: It can be interpreted in both ways.

Long Answer: 「[noun] + を + 如何せん」 is a common pattern which means 「[noun]をどうしよう」 in modern Japanese, or "What can be done with [noun]?" in English. Usually it implies nothing can be done, or どうしようもない. Of course, を here is an object marker.

In old Japanese, nominalizer こと was not used, and verbs could be directly followed by を, が, etc. Today, this grammar is mainly seen in proverbs (e.g., 負けるが勝ち, 足るを知る者は富む, 聞くは一時の恥).

So you can understand 余命とぼしきを如何せん as 余命が乏しいことをどうしよう in modern Japanese.

That said, I think it is still possible to interpret this を as 接続助詞, and read the sentence as 「余命が乏しいのだが、どうしよう」. The given English translation seems to be based on this interpretation. It doesn't change the meaning of the sentence anyway.

One famous verse which contains this pattern is 垓下の歌. Its third line says 「騅不逝兮可奈何」, or 「騅の逝かざるを如何せん」 in 書き下し文. Most (but not all) of the translations available on the net were along the lines of 「馬が進まないことをどうすればいいのだ」, with the implicit nominalization.

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