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This is a quotation from a fairy tale. A young man was turned into a samurai:

信じがたきことなれど、拙者サムライでござる。かたじけのうござる。

I read the first part as 'Although it is hard to believe, I am a samurai'.

What is the grammatical structure used in the second part? Is the word used 忝い (かたじけな) ?

Is this written in classical Japanese? (It is the き ending of がたい and the use of でござる that made me think that)

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This is written in archaic or Classical Japanese style.

信じがたき = 信じがたい "hard to believe". In bungo, い adjectives used attributively (before the noun) ended in き, but ended in し when used predicatively (after the noun). Eg: 高き山 "a high mountain" vs 山は高し "the mountain is high" In MSJ, it would be 高い in both cases, of course.

なれど is the izenkei of the verb なる , "be", plus suffix ど, meaning "although", so this means "although it is"

So your translation is correct.

The second sentence exemplifies a rule that you are in fact familiar with in phrases like ありがとうございます、おはようございます and おめでとうございます : い adjectives have a special form that precedes ござる . This form is made by changing the endings -ai and -oi to long o and the endings -ii and -ui to long u. Thus: あぶない > あぶのうございます、 ひろい > ひろうございます、あたらしい > あたらしゅうございます、わるい > わるうございます and so on.

かたじけない is an い adjective meaning "grateful".

So the second sentence means "I am grateful [for that]"

Examples of this form, apart from a few set expressions such as those cited, are not commonly heard nowadays. A couple that I have come across are すくのうございます "There are not many", from a very aristocratic lady who spoke extremely elegant Japanese, and あぶのうございます "It is dangerous [so don't let your children play on the escalators]" in an announcement over the public address system in a supermarket.

  • MSJ = Modern Standard Japanese? Also, is おめとうございます a typo of おめとうございます? – siikamiika Jun 1 '17 at 19:39
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    Yes, MSJ = Modern Standard Japanese. And yes, おめとうございます was a typo, which I've now corrected. Thanks for your eagle-eyed attention to detail. Regards. – Graham Healey Jun 1 '17 at 20:32

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