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I am reading the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and came across the following in the first volume:

祈り信じよ

されば救われん

The subtitles of the anime translate this to be:

"Pray and you shall be saved."

The translation work on Viking Anime has this:

"Believe in your prayers, and you can be saved."

The first part is easy (about the prayers), but the part I can't figure out is the "われん" ending. The base verb is 救う, so is 救われん a contraction? If so, of what verb ending?

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    「祈り信じよ」 literally means "Pray and believe"(祈って、信じなさい。) rather than "Believe in your prayers"(祈りを信じなさい)... – Chocolate Apr 29 '16 at 16:04
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    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/5396/7810 – broccoli forest Apr 30 '16 at 4:10
  • @chocolate, how do you tell the difference between the two? Is it the fact that 祈り doesn't have を after it and hence is not the direct object of the "believing"? – crimsonspectre May 1 '16 at 15:54
  • 祈り信じる doesn't really make sense in Japanese... I think it'd be more natural to say 祈りが(神に/天に)通じることを信じる (believe that your prayer will be granted) or 祈りが天に届くことを信じる (believe that your prayer will reach God). – Chocolate May 1 '16 at 17:42
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救われん is made of 救われる and the archaic suffix ん, which came out of む. む・ん had similar rôles to よう・おう today; that is to say, 救われん in modern style would be 救われよう or 救われるだろう. It is not related to the ん that comes out of ぬ, which is a strong or dialectal way of stating a negative.

Additionally, as chocolate says in the comments, 祈り信じよ means 'Pray and believe', rather than 'Believe in your prayers.' Accordingly, the full phrase literally means 'Pray and believe, that you might be saved.' In more modern Japanese, the phrase is 祈って信じなさい。そうであれば、救われよう。

  • I'm confused on the されば. Which verb is that? I was initially thinking it meant, "Pray and believe. If you die (去れば), you won't be saved." So what is this されば? – istrasci Apr 29 '16 at 20:30
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    @istrasci されば is an old written form meaning 'if so,' corresponding to the newer form そうならば. – Pteromys Apr 29 '16 at 20:34
  • @Pteromys Isn't されば the 已然形 and hence means そうだから? さらば would be そうならば, no? – Brandon Apr 30 '16 at 0:19
  • @Brandon I wasn't thinking straight. You're right in saying that されば is in he 已然形. But the context here clearly indicates that されば is used to introduce a "true" conditional. If I remember correctly, 已然形 is sometimes used to introduce "true" conditionals, especially in 漢文訓読: see e.g., seiwatei.net/kanbun/katei.htm (but this really needs some explanation from an expert.) – Pteromys Apr 30 '16 at 2:26
  • @Brandon It depends on how old the language you're referring to. – user4092 Apr 30 '16 at 10:33
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"祈り信じよ、さらば救われん" can be translated as “Pray and believe in (the God), and you shall be saved, not "Believe in your prayers, and you can be saved."

”救われん” is a passive, future form of 救う. …れん is an antiquated expression that can be used in such various ways as;

崇められる ⇒ 崇められん – will be worshipped.

褒められる ⇒ 褒められん – will be praised.

謗られる ⇒ 謗られん – will be denounced.

報いられる ⇒ 報いられん – will (can) be rewarded.

恵まれる ⇒ 恵まれん - will (can) be afforded.

施される ⇒ 施されん – will (can) be given.

語られる ⇒ 語られん – will be talked about.

為される ⇒ 為されん – will (can) be done.

生かされる/活かされる ⇒ 生かされん/活かされん will be kept alive.

記される ⇒ 記されん – will be described.

(偉大な詩人の一人に)数えられる ⇒ 数えられん - can be counted as (one of the greatest poets)

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