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Saw this on the first page of きつねのはなし by 森見登美彦, searched online but only saw this book as reference. Wondering how exactly would you read it...Thanks a lot.

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    Would you mind including a bit of context? I think it should be read as つねくらい but context would definitively help. – 永劫回帰 Jun 3 '16 at 3:31
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    @駑馬十駕 「長い坂の先にある古い屋敷で、裏手には常暗い竹林があり、葉の擦れる音が絶えず聞こえていた。芳蓮堂の使いで初めて天城さんの屋敷を訪ねたのは初秋の風が強い日で、夕闇に沈み始めた竹林が生き物のように蠢いていたのを思い出す。」 – oldergod Jun 3 '16 at 4:11
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広辞苑 states:

「つね【常】①かわらないこと。永久不変。(副詞的にも用いる)」

So I would read it as 「つね くらい ちくりんが あり・・・」

3

常暗い【つね くらい】 means "always dark"

1

Though 薄暗い is an everyday word and 常闇 is an established word, there is no word that reads 常暗い, at least as a common word in Japanese language. Neither 広辞苑 nor 大辞林 at hand carries 常暗 as a noun as well as 常暗い as an adjective.

If you found it, it must be a coinage of the author or weird resurrection of a long-ago dead word at best.

In my lifespun of 83 years living in Japan, I've never heard that word. I'm sure of that nobody would blame you and me for not knowing how to read it, what it means, and whether it really exists as a lgitimate word on the earth.

  • I really want to +1 this for the "(basically?) never used in spoken Japanese" and "doesn't appear in dictionaries as a single word" points, but two criticisms: 1) although it doesn't show as a "single" word, it does work as a modifier + adjective pair (see chocolate's answer), even if that usage of つね is rare. 2) The compound 常暗い does appear now and again in written Japanese. I've seen it in multiple fantasy books and JRPGs (presumably some of them were by different authors). Seeing it stuck in my memory exactly because it is such a rare usage. – WeirdlyCheezy Jun 3 '16 at 15:19
  • @WeirdlyCheezy. You see you saw 常暗い many many times, I say I’ve never seen it. You’re talking its presence in pop culture, for which my generation is out of touch, and I'm not interested in. You can create as many words as you wish. It's up to you. Do it. I heard there’s 2 million words in English. You cannot say all of them are Standard English. In my childhood, old people used to pronounce 手術 as “しりつ.” It passed. Nobody blamed it. It’s endless if you pick up every word as a current word. At least, none of reputable dictionaries at hands -広辞苑、大辞林、新明解国語辞典 doesn’t include 常暗/常暗い. It's a fact. – Yoichi Oishi Jun 3 '16 at 20:38
  • I'm not denying either of those facts, and consider their presentation here useful. What I'm saying is that when those facts are presented on their own as an answer, it becomes a misleading answer. But with a few additions it would become a a very good answer (at least in my opinion). You might not be interested in pop culture and that is completely fine, but many of the readers might be. "I've never seen it in my whole life (.. so by implication it is not real Japanese)" is worse than adding "..but I've heard of rare cases of it being used in pop culture". – WeirdlyCheezy Jun 4 '16 at 5:39
1

I have never seen this word and it seems to be an occasional or creative word usage by the writer. I'd read とこぐらい or とこくらい that would mean "ever-shady".

とこ【常】

[語素]名詞・形容詞などに付いて、いつも変わらない、永久不変の、などの意を表す。「―夏」「―世」「―めずらし」
(morpheme) mainly attached to nouns or adjectives to indicate "unchanging" or "permanent".

For reference, the 新潮文庫 edition of きつねのはなし doesn't have furigana on this word, which suggests it neither has peculiar reading nor is compound ateji. Most probably is either of ジョウ, つね, とこ listed in 常用漢字表.

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