I'm translating a song as part of a project.
What is ki used for? Is it a prefix for kokyou?
Natsukashi ki kokyou

懐かしき故郷 夢見な理想郷
忘れがちな嘘 あるまじきEmotion


1 Answer 1


In late middle Japanese, the actual class of い-adjectives was in fact subdivided into 2 classes, namely ク-adjectives and シク-adjectives. There is remnant of those adjectives even now, though there are mainly to be found in novels or songs in order to add a touch of old.

Here, we have 懐かしき, it is the old 連体形 (the base you should use to modify a noun or clause) of 懐かしい which was a シク-adjective. So here basically, you can understand 懐かしき故郷 as 懐かしい故郷. They mean the same, but the variant with き is not in current use anymore, save for artistic purposes.

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    Is it really true that the き variants are not in current use? I have seen them now and then in other places as well, for example the phrase 古き良き
    – Locksleyu
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 15:14
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    @Locksleyu You may find a lot of fixed expression with old grammar in use, yes. But it is not so productive anymore. For example, I stumbled on this today: "選ばれし美少女たち!アニメファンが選ぶ「もっとも魅力的だと思う魔法少女キャラ」TOP20!" you can see the 選ばれし (again old grammar in use, but it seems to be limited to a very restricted set of verbs now). That's the same for those old adjectives, they pop up from time to time but only a restricted set of adjectives are still used in their ancient form to add style. Commented May 13, 2016 at 15:26
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    Yeah, 古き良き sounds like a fixed idiom to me.
    – naruto
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 16:08
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    Thanks guys. I have also seen 美しき now and then but I think that usage was specifically chosen to impart a 'classic' feel.
    – Locksleyu
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 17:37
  • @駑馬十駕 Wow, you have such a background in language ^^ Commented May 13, 2016 at 18:38

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