I know that in general, if a 形容詞 in modern Japanese ends in ~しい, then it was originally a シク活用形容詞, with 終止形 ~し and 連體形 ~しき. I also know that in the Late Middle Japanese period, シク adjectives developed a 終止形 of ~しし, which then merged with ~しき and evolved into modern ~しい. But I'm wondering whether there were any ク活用形容詞 that currently end in ~しい; i.e., with classical 終止形 ~し (preceded directly by another し in the adjective root) and 連體形 ~き (but again preceded directly by し in the adjective root). It seems that just by random chance some of these could have occurred.

Again, I am not referring to the ~しし 終止形 that developed for シク adjectives in the Late Middle Japanese Period.

Thank you very much.

1 Answer 1


That's an interesting idea, but it actually couldn't have occurred by random chance, because it was impossible for an Old Japanese /ku/ adjective to have a stem ending in /-i/ (or, at least, no such words are attested).

A mild caveat to this: I once read (I forget where, sorry) that for many of the adjectives that came down to us in the /siku/ group, we do not have phonographic attestation in Old Japanese to prove that they were in fact /siku/ adjectives at that stage. We just assume that they were because that's how they appear in Heian-period documents. So it's technically possible that among the /siku/ adjectives there are a few that, in Old Japanese, were just /ku/ adjectives with a stem ending in /-si/, and were reanalyzed in Middle Japanese as /siku/ adjectives (roughly as you suggest could have happened).

However, given the apparent restriction on any stems ending in /-i/, and circumstantial evidence like the fact that /siku/ adjectives tend to be semantically distinctive, describing subjective or psychological states, this doesn't seem especially likely.

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